We kicked off our Autumn events schedule with the first event of the season – a guided tour of Ipswich Town Hall.
The Town Hall was built in 1878 in a typical grand Victorian style at a cost of £16,000 – today worth more than £17.2m. The building is steeped in more than a century of history, having been repurposed over the years from its original layout into a dynamic and multifunctional venue fit for the 21st century. Today the town hall features 2 art galleries and a theatre, replacing the magistrates’ court that once stood in their place.
Our members assembled on the steps of the town hall, waiting to be let inside. Sure enough at 6pm sharp the doors opened and we were greeted by the Town Sergeant Andrew Beal. As we proceeded up the steps we were delighted to be met by the Mayor of Ipswich herself, Jane Riley. The Mayor accompanied us throughout the whole tour and was on hand to answer all of our questions.
We started with a tour of the tea room (which back in the day was a session court for minor offences), followed by the library. The Mayor and Sergeant expertly guided us through winding corridors and rooms; the interior was labyrinthine and yet stunningly majestic in its design. At the heart of the building sits the 70ft long council chamber, which is still used for meetings to this day.
At the top of the staircase we marvelled at the grand columns stretching right up to the clock tower, which was built by the same company who worked on Big Ben in London. We then entered the cavernous main hall where I was lucky enough to have had my graduation last year – back then I was blown away by the grandness of the venue and it certainly hadn’t lost its charm this time round.
Of course, the highlight was being granted entry into the Mayor’s parlour and viewing the Mayor’s regalia. Some of our lucky members even got to hold the Mayor’s ceremonial sword and mace!
We finished the evening with a glass of wine (such a lovely touch!) and a mingle, amid growing speculation of the identity of our next AGM guest speaker – rest assured, my lips are sealed! It was great to see so many of our members enjoying themselves and taking an interest in the future of the Society – in many ways what our All In membership package is all about.
Cheers to a great evening!