There will be a chance to learn about Bury St Edmunds’ latest visitor attraction later this month, ahead of its official opening in the summer of next year.
The Guildhall, in Bury St Edmunds, is Britain’s oldest continually used civic building with a history that spans more than 800 years in the heart of the town.
Next year it will open as a brand new heritage centre, hosting activities, events, workshops and exhibitions that tell the untold story of Bury St Edmunds.
It is envisaged that the centre will be used to host art exhibitions, music and theatre workshops, that it will be available as a wedding venue, a teaching resource particularly for the teaching of history, while a Tudor knot historic herb garden is being reimagined as a sensory garden where summer events and evening performances will also take place.
There is a chance to meet the team and see some of the works underway during the Christmas Fayre weekend when the Guildhall will open its doors to the public.
Following that, starting on December 4, there will be an exhibition at the Apex of some of the paintings from the Guildhall while they are being stored or restored off-site.
James Mellish, project manager for the Bury St Edmunds Heritage Trust which is running the project: “We are very excited about this new visitor attraction, so excited in fact that we want to open the doors early and show people some of what is coming. So we are opening The Guildhall during the weekend of the Christmas Fayre (November 25 and 26, noon to 4pm each day) to offer a sneak preview ahead of the official opening next summer.”
The Guildhall project is supported by St Edmundsbury Borough Council which, in its current and previous guises, has managed The Guildhall since 1894. Next Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting will be asked to approve an application to the Charity Commission to transfer that role to the Bury St Edmunds Heritage Trust after its reopening.
Councillor Joanna Rayner said: “The Guildhall has a wonderful history as one of the oldest buildings in the town and I can’t wait to have a glimpse at the vision that is taking shape at there. Once finished this will be a building that the whole community can use, as well as complementing the fabulous mix of leisure and heritage activities that we have in the town.”
The Guildhall Project is supported by £669,000 of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Fundraising for the project is continuing and is currently £220,000 short of its £1.79 million target.
You can donate, volunteer and find out more about The Guildhall Project at http://burystedmundsguildhall.org.uk