Historic and unusual Ipswich buildings will throw open their doors as part of heritage weekend

The Old Custom House that will be open as part of Ipswich Heritage Open Day

The Old Custom House that will be open as part of Ipswich Heritage Open Day

More than 30 buildings across Ipswich are preparing to take a step back in time and open up to members of the public for the annual Heritage Open Days.

The Freudian Sheep Art Gallery which is being opened up for this years Ipswich Society Heritage walk

The Freudian Sheep Art Gallery which is being opened up for this years Ipswich Society Heritage walks.

The weekend, organised by the Ipswich Society, takes place on September 12 and 13, with popular, historic and unusual buildings opening their doors for people to find out about the town’s hidden past, free of charge.

This year’s weekend includes iconic buildings such as Willis, the Town Hall and Christchurch Mansion, alongside less familiar buildings which are not normally open to the public, such as the Freemason’s Hall and the former Wheatsheaf building.

Graham Smith, Ipswich Society treasurer and organiser of the weekend, said: “It’s a fantastic opportunity for members of the public to see some of the buildings that aren’t open, where people wonder what goes on in there.”

This year also features two buildings that will be opening their doors for the first time over the weekend, including the Freudian Sheep Gallery in St Helen’s Street and Quay Place, which has recently been renovated into a community space.

A preview tour for the upcoming Heritage Open Day in Ipswich. Margaret Hancock (left) leads the tour

A preview tour for the upcoming Heritage Open Day in Ipswich. Margaret Hancock (left) leads the tour in the Unitarian Meeting House. - Credit: Archant

Mr Smith added: “As a former firefighter in the town I knew my way around Ipswich fairly well, but joining the Ipswich Society opened my eyes to the history of the town and the rich architectural legacy we enjoy but often just pass by when going about our everyday lives.”

Members of staff from the buildings, volunteers and Ipswich Society members will be on hand at the buildings to give people detailed information about its history.

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The event has become an established fixture on Ipswich’s calendar, with people from across the county, and as far afield as Cambridge visiting to soak up the town’s history.

Mr Smith said: “We are on the National Heritage website, and we just want to see as many people as possible come and enjoy these spaces.

“You get to know just how much history the town has.”

The Ipswich Society works alongside Ipswich Borough Council, the Building Preservation Trust and the Tourist Information Centre to help promote the event, with leaflets detailing the full schedule across the town and at the Tourist Information Centre in St Stephen’s Lane.

David Stainer, manager of the Tourist Information Centre, added: “It’s a brilliant event for the town, and it is not just buildings because people can go on board the sailing barge Victor – it’s a great partnership event.”

Ipswich transport Museum has also provided a vintage bus for the day which will offer free bus tours around the town.

For full details of times and open buildings, pick up a brochure at the Tourist Information Centre, or visit ipswichsociety.org.uk.

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