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The Hold


The Hold will offer a bespoke home for the majority of Suffolk’s unique archival collections, as well as state-of-the-art public facilities and teaching spaces for the University.  More than just a building, it will drive a countywide programme of archives-inspired activities and events, and will transform the way the Archives Service reaches communities around Suffolk with its outreach work. 

 It is a partnership project between Suffolk County Council, the University and has received funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.  It is supported by charities the Suffolk Archives Foundation and Friends of Suffolk Record Office. 


What are the benefits it will bring? 

 Some of these unique archives will be put on display in the exhibition area for the first time, making it much easier to view records in the new centre. The Hold is expected to attract thousands of visitors each year, seeking to research local history, find out about their families, or to take part in events and activities. Even more people will access these stories online and through new digital programmes. The project will also offer school groups and adult learners positive and stimulating learning experiences. 

 For the University, The Hold will support research, teaching, and public engagement. The archives will allow researchers from different disciplines to engage with the social history of Suffolk, and help to interpret Suffolk’s rich heritage for today’s audience. The purpose-built lecture theatre and seminar rooms will provide the University with contemporary learning spaces that will feed into research-inspired teaching. There will be opportunities to promote our activities through the use of the building and its public spaces. 

 As well as using The Hold on a day-to-day basis as a unique resource, students across a wide range of subject areas will be able to engage with The Hold through ‘live projects’ e.g. marketing, design, photography.  Work placements and a range of traineeships for students will also be available. 

 What is the proposed timeline and where will it be located?

The Hold will open in spring 2020. It will be located adjacent to the Atrium Building and opposite the Waterfront Building.

Image courtesy of Pringle Richards Sharratt Architects

Has there been any interesting discoveries on the site?

The January 2019 issue of Waterfront Life magazine documents some of the items that have been found during the building process. 

How is the building work progressing?

View the time lapse video below from Suffolk Archives. 

Here are some photographs showing the building process to date:

Images 3-5 from RG Carter.

Tell me more about the time capsule burial

Time capsules were buried at some of Suffolk’s most culturally and historically significant locations on 28 February 2019.

The event marks the 900th anniversary of Suffolk’s oldest ‘treasure’, and the development of a new National Lottery funded Heritage centre.

The capsules were developed to commemorate the 900th anniversary of the oldest document in the Suffolk Record Office collections (the Royal Charter of King Henry I, Eye) and the building of a major new heritage and archives centre for the county (‘The Hold’: A Suffolk Archives Service for the 21st Century’) a partnership between Suffolk County Council and the University of Suffolk, (supported by £10.4 million funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund). The time capsules will capture a ‘snapshot’ of Suffolk life in 2019 for when they are dug up in 100 years’ time.

The nine locations for the Time Capsules burials were: Bury St Edmunds, Eye, Felixstowe, Framlingham, Haverhill (burial to take place next week), Ipswich, Lowestoft, Mildenhall, and Stowmarket. In attendance at the various burial events were local school pupils, District and County Councillors, Parish and Town Councils, local Mayors, Girl Guides, WI, The Befriending Scheme (Haverhill), the Suffolk Archives Foundation, Friends of Suffolk Record Office, a Cycling Club (Mildenhall), and representatives from Suffolk’s museums and community groups.

Materials were contributed to the capsules in the form of letters, stories, small objects, drawings, photographs, oral history recordings and ‘digital stories’. Digital content was also included on archival CDs which will be replicated in the Record Office’s special digital preservation system to ensure it can be read in 100 years’ time.

This content was collated by school pupils, local interest groups, community organisations and museums. All content in the capsules reflects what people feel is important about where they live, and what they would like the Suffolk people of 2119 to understand about life in 2019.

Tim Greenacre, Registrar and Secretary at the University of Suffolk, said “As the event shows, The Hold is far more than just a building. It will be the catalyst for a countywide programme of activities and events, and will transform the way our archives reach communities around Suffolk. The University is proud to be at the heart of this transformation, and we are excited about the new state-of-the-art teaching spaces that will be available to our students. We expect The Hold to have a significant direct impact on their university experience, as well as students and visitors of all ages from across the county who will be attracted to Ipswich and the Waterfront.”

Later in the year, the Record Office will begin to work with communities to develop digital history trails to start and end near each capsule location. The trails will take in important historic sites and features for each place, with connections to the archival collections held in the Record Office. People will be able to follow the trails using their smart phones as well as by traditional means. The first trail should be launched on Suffolk Day (21 June 2019) with others to follow.

*Photos by Suffolk County Council 

Where can I find out more?

This page will be kept updated as well as The Hold page on the Suffolk Archives website