The Guildhall in Bury St Edmunds is a nationally important, grade 1 listed, historic building that has been at the heart of community life within the town for over eight centuries. It is England's oldest complete Civic Building.
First constructed to act as a civic focus for the town, the Guildhall has acted as courtroom, library, meeting place and assembly house during its long and varied history. However, in recent decades the building has largely fallen into disuse.
The Guildhall Project aims to develop the site as a multi-galleried heritage and exhibition centre to serve the local community. The project’s long-term objective is to allow this important building to once again become a focus for the borough’s heritage and community.
The Guildhall Project aims to create an exciting new Exhibition and Heritage Centre within the existing Guildhall complex. This historic building, situated in the heart of historic Bury St Edmunds, is thought to be the oldest civic building in England. The Guildhall Heritage Centre will make this fantastic building accessible to the public once more and will feature two major events/display spaces, a community gallery, education suite, retail outlet and courtyard café. The Centre also aims to utilise the entire site, developing accessible green spaces, sensory gardens and courtyard areas. However, the sites main feature will be the historic Guildhall building itself. This nationally important building was built to act as a focus for the medieval town and it is the intention of the Guildhall Project to make the building once again central to community life within Bury St Edmunds. Project features will include:
The two principal rooms within the Guildhall will become the focus for the events and exhibition space. Each will be made available for local and community events and celebrations, small conferences and temporary exhibitions.
Located within the historic Guildhall complex the Royal Observer Corps ‘Ops Room’ was built as a key part of the air defence of East Anglia in the months leading up to the outbreak of WWII. The ‘Ops Room’ is the only surviving example of its type in England and, as such, is of significant historical interest. The room itself will be recreated as it would have looked at the height of its operational use during the early years of the war. In association with this will be two smaller galleries, telling the story of the ‘Ops Room’ and the local people who served there.
The smaller community gallery is intended to act as a focus for local and community events. In addition, it is anticipated that it will tell the story of the Guildhall building itself and the unique feoffment trust that has, since the Tudor period, owned and operated the building.
Others features include:
* Courtyard Café
* Sensory Medieval Herb Garden
* Education and Lifelong Learning Suite
The newly launched “Friends of the Guildhall’ seeks to establish a strong support base to further strengthen and take forward the development of the Guildhall Project. The Trustees aim to make a bid to the HLF at the end of the year.
Further information can be found on www.buryguildhall.co.uk or by email to
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