Long-awaited Pride in Suffolk’s Past exhibition to open on Monday


The long-awaited Pride in Suffolk’s Past exhibition opens at The Hold on Ipswich Waterfront on Monday 17 May, in line with the current COVID-19 regulations.

Suffolk pride

This will be only the second exhibition to open in this brand-new venue - which partially opened for the first time last September - and is a fantastic opportunity for visitors to come and get a taste of what is on offer – all for free!

The Pride in Suffolk’s Past exhibition, which is the culmination of an in-depth two-year project, uses original documents found in Suffolk Archives and local collections to explore the hidden histories of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and gender non-conforming people in Suffolk’s past.

Due to legal and social repression these stories have all too often gone untold but now these experiences can be shared for future generations to understand how things have changed over time, as well as what work there is still to be done. Complementing the archival materials on display, the exhibition also contains contributions shared by the thriving LGBTQ+ community in Suffolk today.

The exhibition is open seven days a week from Monday 17 May until Sunday 4 July. Tickets are free of charge but must be booked in advance: www.ticketsource.co.uk/suffolk-archives

Councillor Matthew Hicks, Leader of Suffolk County Council, said:

“I am delighted that The Hold is able to reopen its doors with the Pride in Suffolk’s Past Exhibition. This is such an important exhibition reflecting the lives of the LGBTQ+ community in Suffolk both past and present. I’d also like to thank everyone involved in the project who has shared their stories and supported the exhibition, ensuring that these voices can be heard.”

Emily Shepperson, Exhibition and Interpretation Officer for Suffolk Archives said:

“I am so pleased that we are finally able to open the Pride in Suffolk’s Past exhibition to the public. This has been a true partnership project and we are so grateful to all the individuals and groups who have contributed to both the exhibition and the wider project. It is fantastic to be able to see all that this project has achieved so far, and we are really thankful for the support of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, which has made this a reality.”

The Pride in Suffolk’s Past exhibition is the result of a wider project forming part of Sharing Suffolk Stories, the countywide National Lottery Heritage Fund supported programme of activities which enables communities to discover more about the history of where they live and to share it in new and engaging ways.

Anne Jenkins, Director, England Midlands and East, National Lottery Heritage Fund said:

“We are proud to support Suffolk Archives in preserving the hidden LGBTQ heritage of Suffolk. Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, this history will now be shared with the wider community and will highlight the local people who have paved the way for social change.”

A range of complementary events are taking place throughout the exhibition run, including the chance for members of the public to join curator tours, art workshops, and the launch of a brand-new Suffolk Archives Escape Room series.

These inaugural Escape Rooms are themed around two key individuals in the exhibition, Dr Louisa Garrett Anderson and Nina Layard. The events take place on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 June, and participants will be challenged to decode cryptic messages, solve riddles, and gather clues in a race against the clock! Booking is available through the Suffolk Archives website

In addition to the complementary events series, a fantastic new Pride in Suffolk's Past book has also been produced to accompany the exhibition, including contributions shared by the LGBTQ+ community in Suffolk today. The book is available to purchase for £10 either online via TicketSource, from the shop at The Hold, or from Waterstones.