New Year at Suffolk Record Office

Happy New Year from all of us at Suffolk Record Office and The Hold!

2017 has been an amazing year for the Suffolk Record Office and The Hold project.  Here is a quick look back at just some of what we’ve achieved; and a look ahead to what 2018 will hopefully bring! 

Architect’s impression of the south and east elevations of ‘The Hold’

Architect’s impression of the south and east elevations of ‘The Hold’

Architectural designs

The year began with us appointing architectural practice ‘Pringle Richards Sharratt’ to design The Hold.  Prior to receiving our Heritage Lottery Funding in 2016, we had already conducted a feasibility study, showing the accommodation we needed would fit on the site available; other than that, PRS had a ‘blank canvas’ to work with.  

Their brief was a complex one, they had to design a building that would provide;

• a functional, state-of-the-art Record Office

• fully equipped conservation and digitisation suites

• strongrooms for Suffolk’s irreplaceable collections, to the new European standard

• exhibition spaces, a café, and shop to attract new users

• a learning room for school and adult education groups

• University teaching spaces, including a 200-seat auditorium and seminar rooms

In addition, PRS’s challenge was to find a way to deal with the 4-metre slope of the site (from south to north), make the building highly accessible, and remain sympathetic to the adjacent conservation area.  

PRS drew heavily on the history of the site for their inspiration; in particular, the social settlement that occupied the site in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the nearby Ipswich skyline, maltings buildings, and Suffolk brickwork.  We love the resulting design with its banding of ‘Suffolk white’ bricks. 

Activities and outreach – a year of pilots!

Our Heritage Lottery Funding has also allowed us to trial activities for engaging new audiences with Suffolk’s wonderful archival heritage.  During 2017, we ‘piloted’ the following:

• 3 ‘Sharing Suffolk’s Stories’ pilots with Suffolk Mind, Headway and Northgate High School – helping groups explore archives, maps and more

• Oral history ‘pop-ups’ around the county, capturing people’s memories and nuggets of family history, with our Suffolk-based partner, Chronicle Digital Storytelling (listen to them here -

• A mini touring exhibition on the story of the Red Barn Murder

• A play with a theatre company (‘Bring Out Your Dead’) specialising in working with young people, called ‘Blood Red Barn’, based on archival sources

• A TED-style talk on the theme of archives and ‘Fake News’, filmed in front of a live audience at Northgate High School

Above – Chronicle’s John Royle at one of the Oral History ‘pop-up’ sessions in Woodbridge.

Above – Chronicle’s John Royle at one of the Oral History ‘pop-up’ sessions in Woodbridge.

What will 2018 bring?

In March 2018 we should learn whether our Round 2 bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund has been successful.  If so, then building work for The Hold will begin in Spring 2018, with the building being open and operational by the end of 2019.  We will build on the ‘pilot’ activities in 2018 and beyond, to help The Hold engage new people with archives and heritage.

Thank you to the University of Suffolk and the wonderful partners, stakeholders, students and volunteers who have helped us get this far – we look forward to working with you in 2018!

To find out more, visit