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

The Hold

Visiting The Hold

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

The public areas of The Hold on the waterfront in Ipswich – the shop, café, exhibition gallery, and archive inspired displays – are open to visitors seven days a week:

  • Monday – Friday: 9am – 5pm, with late opening on Thursdays until 9pm
  • Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays: 10am – 4pm

Closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, Monday 27th & Tuesday 28th December, and New Year’s Day, Sunday 2nd & Monday 3rd January

The Ipswich branch of Suffolk Archives will open at The Hold from the beginning of September 2021 for appointments only. This will include the John Blatchly Local Studies Library and the invigilated searchroom. For information on booking appointments, please see our appointment pages.

Where we are

The Hold is on the University of Suffolk campus at 131 Fore Street, Ipswich, IP4 1LR.

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.

What’s on

We are delighted to offer a varied range of events and exhibitions at our three branches across the county.

To find out about latest and forthcoming exhibitions at The Hold please visit our Exhibitions webpages.

To download our new What’s On guide and view listings of events and activities taking place at The Hold, please visit our Public Event Programme webpages.

Café at The Hold

The Café at The Hold is open seven days a week:

  • Monday – Friday: 8.30am – 5pm, with late opening on Thursdays until 9pm
  • Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays: 10am – 4pm
    Closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, Monday 27th & Tuesday 28th December, and New Year’s Day, Sunday 2nd & Monday 3rd January.

Background to The Hold

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.


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.