Ipswich Town Hall
One of East Anglia’s most prestigious venues, situated in the very centre of Ipswich, the Town Hall is an ideal venue for many occasions.
With a rich heritage, the building plays a significant part in the history of the town, from 1868 to the present day.
From large-scale corporate conferences, major concerts, civic banquets and balls to lunchtime meetings, private social events, wedding ceremonies and receptions, student proms and festivals, the Town Hall has a variety of spaces for you to choose from.
Arts and entertainment venues at Christmas
Christmas and New Year opening times for the Town Hall, Corn Exchange, King Street Cinema and the Regent.
Town Hall and Corn Exchange
Cornhill, Ipswich IP1 1DH
King Street, Ipswich IP1 1DH
Nearby car parks
Elm Street car park
Town Hall history
Follow key milestones of the current Town Hall, from the sealing of the building contract in 1865, to conversion of many spaces in the building for Community use in the 1970’s.
Researched by Mike Ferrell with the support of Bill Leggate and Phil Hatfield, the information herein has for the most part been extracted from the book written by R L Cross entitled "The Living Past - A Victorian Heritage" published in 1975.
A new beginning
In October 1865 the building contract was sealed and the demolition of the old Town Hall building was started. The old Council Chambers was not destroyed until after the Annual Meeting which was held on the 9th of November and the Magistrates Courts were temporarily moved to the County Hall.
On the 18th April 1866 a large celebration was held to lay the foundation stone.
The decoration on the front of the Town Hall
On the front of the Town Hall there are three heads representing King Richard I, Cardinal Wolsey and King John. These characters were incorporated into the decoration on our Town Hall because it was King Richard who first promised the town its first charter but died before it could be granted, and it was King John who finally granted it to the town. And Cardinal Wolsey was one of the most famous people to have been born in Ipswich.
Above these heads are four statues in stone representing Commerce, Agriculture, Law and Order and Justice.
On the top of the building is an open stonework lantern which sits on a small tower which originally had an illuminated four-dial turret striking clock underneath it, which was made by Dent, 61 Strand, London, the same makers of Big Ben. Also housed in this tower is the bell which was cast in 1867 by John Warner & Sons of the Crescent Foundry, London.
It is interesting to note that Nikolaus Pevsner the great writer on British Architecture lists the Town Hall "quite undistinguished" and the Corn Exchange "also undistinguished" in the first edition (1960 of the Suffolk volume of The Buildings of England). Since then The Victorian Society have given both the Town Hall and Corn Exchange high praise and have listed them Grade 2.
The building was designed to cater for a number of functions and in order to accommodate these the build was set out with the following rooms:
Quarter Sessions Court;
Committee and retiring rooms;
Grand and Petty Juries Rooms;
A room for the Magistrates' business.
The basement included:
Police Station with seven cells and a parade area;
Kitchen to service the function rooms above (via the use of a dumb waiter);
Offices for Council servants;
Space for the Corporation fire engine and hose to be kept.
The total cost of the building was about £16,000.
The opening of the new building
The building was opened in January 1868 by the then Mayor, Mr John Patterson Cobbold. The opening took place over three days with much aplomb and included a ball attended by around 400 ticket holders.
Changes to the Town Hall role
Up until the early 1960s local authority departments were spread all over the town. In 1964 work began on a new Civic Centre that would bring all these various bodies together in one building. It was decided to continue to use the Town Hall for Council meetings and for the accommodation of the Mayor.
In 1969 the Council decided to transfer the Quarter Sessions and Magistrates Courts and the Police Station to a new building on the Civic Centre site. Work on the Town Hall could now go ahead to turn the building into use of the community for meetings, entertainment, dining and exhibitions.
In November 1970 a series of events were staged to show off the new look building and to promote its ability to be used for a wide variety of events. The Town Hall was soon booked out to societies and organisations for their meetings, luncheons, dinners, dances, concerts, exhibitions and coffee mornings.
Because the Town Hall was so successful in its new role the Council decided in 1972 to convert the Corn Exchange to the same functionality thereby increasing the complex's flexibility.