The Suffolk Archives statement on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its services is available to read here.

The Hold

This section of the Suffolk Archives website focuses on the on going ambitious project to transform the way we engage people with archives.

The creation of The Hold, in partnership with the University of Suffolk, will support and enable the development of a Suffolk Archives service for the 21st Century. The project is supported by heritage organisations across Suffolk and has received funding support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Located within Ipswich’s unique and regenerating Waterfront, when fully completed The Hold will safely house the bulk of Suffolk’s nationally and internationally significant archives. More than a building, the development is the catalyst for a transformed, audience-focused service, which can better reach diverse communities in Ipswich, the county and beyond.

Much has already been achieved, with a wide range of activity and digital programmes under way through the Sharing Suffolk Stories initiative. These varied and fascinating projects are already engaging people with Suffolk’s archival heritage in new and exciting ways. This work has developed again as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with new ways of sharing collections virtually being explored, such as through the development of a series of online displays.

Construction of The Hold progressed well despite the challenges of this year, and Monday 20 July saw the practical completion and handover of the building to Suffolk County Council. Between July and September much work took place focused on getting the building operationally ready. From Monday 28 September, the public were able to access ‘front of house’ areas at The Hold, including the shop, café, archive inspired displays, exhibition gallery, the auditorium and seminar rooms (University of Suffolk staff and students only), toilets, and Changing Place facility.

The formal public opening is now likely to take place sometime in 2021, when the building is fully fitted out and all relevant collections have been safely transferred.

Visiting The Hold

Impact of COVID-19 – you can read our Coronavirus update here.

The Hold is open seven days a week:

  • Monday – Friday: 9.30am – 4.30pm
  • Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays: 10am – 4pm

Café at The Hold
The Café at The Hold is not currently open. However, our sister café, Coffee Cat Ipswich Waterfront, is just a few minutes walk away.

Information about how to find us is available on the Travelling to The Hold page.

You can contact the Welcome Desk at The Hold on 01473 296666.

Exhibitions at The Hold

The Exhibition Gallery opened at the beginning of October with the inaugural exhibition, Global Events: Suffolk Stories, which ran until 10 January 2021. This exhibition used original archival documents, photos, music, and film to explore how the Suffolk community has responded to different international events throughout history. You can find out more about the exhibition, as well as view a virtual tour on the Global Events: Suffolk Stories exhibition webpage.

The next exhibition to open in the gallery at The Hold will be Pride in Suffolk’s Past: Sharing LGBTQ+ stories past and present, which is the culmination of the Pride in Suffolk’s Past project, which began in 2019. Entry to this exhibition will be free but time slots must be booked in advance. Full details are available in the Exhibition section of this website.


These photographs from R G Carter were shared as part of the Heritage Open Days festival in September 2020, in place of a physical tour or event being able to take place.

Time-lapse video

This time-lapse video shows initial progress up to March 2019, when the tower crane was removed from site:


If you wish to support the development of The Hold and the development of its activities you can donate to the Make Your Mark campaign, led by the Suffolk Archives Foundation.

Our funders

The Hold has been made possible thanks to support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and a range of other partners. You can find out more about who has supported us on our Funders page.