There was a previous coaching inn on the site of the present Bell Hotel which was burnt down in the 1830s. The only part remaining are massive cellar walls.
From Whites 1844 Suffolk
“During the years 1842-3, a company of shareholders, at the cost of £11,000, rebuilt the Bell Inn, and erected a commodious Corn Exchange, and a large Public Room adjoining.
The two latter are divided by a moveable partition, and can be opened out into one apartment, 106ft long, and 32 in hight and breadth. Behind the Inn is a bowling green and public gardens”.
Unfortunately the shareholders ran out of money and appealed to Squire Long of Hurts Hall to help them out. He agreed, and the grateful townsfolk of Saxmundham presented him, in 1848, with a magnificent silver ink stand with a list of all the subscribers and their donations.
At some later date he gave the ink stand back to the town and it can now be seen in Saxmundham Museum with the list of the subscribers.
The Bell Hotel, together with the Corn Exchange, were sold in 1845. The Corn Exchange did not officially open till 1846.
The Lantern Roof was one of the attractions of the new Corn Exchange. The enclosed postcards show this at a celebration for the officers on Christmas Day 1914. They also show the two large windows at the rear of the building which we hope to uncover in the restoration programme.
In 1905 Dame Clara Butt, with her husband Kennerley Rumford, gave a concert in the Market Hall.
They sang The Keys of Heaven to the delight of the townsfolk of Saxmundham and the surrounding area.
It was recorded that “the carriages of the gentry lined the High Street”.
In 1913 the Suffragists (the non violent branch of the Suffragettes) marched from Yarmouth to Hyde Park. On July 15th they arrived in Saxmundham and held a rally in the Market Place. This was followed by a tea in the Market Hall. The Suffragists then set off on the 16th arriving at Hyde Park on the 26th July where they were addressed by their leader Mrs Millicent Fawcett.
On July 15th 2013 there was a 100 years commemorative event in Saxmundham with speeches and tea in the Market Hall.
from Kellys Directory 1937
“The Market and Corn Hall will seat 250 persons. The market for grain is held here on Wednesdays.
The County Court is held here every alternate month with Magistrates Meetings every other Thursday”.
The Suffolk Show was held on The Layers in Saxmundham from the 1830s on an occasional basis until 1939.
The Market Hall was used for refreshments and the sale of fancy goods. The pictures enclosed are from 1910.
The Market Hall continued to be used for dances, variety shows and concerts. The pictures enclosed were of dances in the 1950s and 60s.
A great event for Saxmundham was an evening with Wilfred Pickles in 1957. There was a ballot for tickets and Saxmundham was very proud…a recording can be heard in Saxmundham Museum.
And now we look forward to a remodelled Market Hall which will benefit Saxmundham and the surrounding area.
Post to: The Market Hall, Saxmundham Town Council,
Old Police Station,
Saxmundham Market Hall is a charity registered with the Charity Commission, no. 235072.