News

Guildhall reopens with special weekend of activities

17 Jul 2018

A historic building, which dates back to the 13th century, has unveiled its £2 million restoration project with a special free opening weekend.
The Guildhall in Bury St Edmunds is famed for boasting the oldest continuously-used building in the UK and also a World War Two Observer Corps Control Centre – the only surviving room of its kind in the world.
This, and much more, was enjoyed by hundreds of people during the special opening weekend at the heritage centre and event space which included interactive attractions for all the family.
Coming eight years after the restoration project started, those involved in the project admitted it was a very proud day as they prepare to bring 900 years of history to life during a busy summer of activities and beyond.
Suzanne Stevenson, manager of the Guildhall, said: “It has been a long journey but it is fantastic to open the doors of the Guildhall once again.
“I know there is an incredible feeling of achievement and satisfaction from everyone who has been involved.
“I was really pleased to see so many people, of all ages, visit this weekend, having fun and interacting with the centre. I would like to thank everyone for their support.
“We have an incredible array of events coming up at the Guildhall over the summer with something for everyone.”
Robert Lamb, chairman of the Bury St Edmunds Heritage Trust Guildhall Project, said: “This has been an incredible journey. To be at this stage, where we have redeveloped the entire site and brought it all to life, is quite unbelievable.
“The Guildhall is a hidden gem for the east of England and this has been made possible thanks to the enthusiasm and dedication of so many – from all our volunteers to our manager – Suzanne Stevenson.”
Highlights of the opening weekend, which was free to the public to say thank you for the community support, included costumed interpreters, World War II Royal Observer Corps, a wide range of live musical genres and the opportunity to taste and prepare Tudor foods and enjoy refreshments in the Guildhall’s beautiful enclosed gardens.
The £2 million restoration was driven by the Bury St Edmunds Heritage Trust with generous grants coming from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic England, anonymous private donors and local organisations such as the Bury Society.
Jo Churchill, Bury St Edmunds MP, who attended on Saturday, said: “I was delighted to come to the Guildhall when the building work first started and it is quite inspirational to now see what has been achieved.
“Seeing a project of this scale brought to life is quite phenomenal and I would like to congratulate everyone involved for creating such a wonderful heritage centre and venue.”
Margaret Marks, mayor of St Edmundsbury, said: “I think everyone involved in this project has done a magnificent job. They have still maintained the character and integrity of the building while creating this fantastic heritage centre and event space.”
For more information on the Guildhall and upcoming events, visit www.burystedmundsguildhall.org.uk.