The Ipswich Institute provides lending library facilities and an extensive programme of leisure learning courses, talks and trips to over 2,000 members. It also serves as a haven for relaxation and refreshment (with both a café and a restaurant) in which to escape the hustle of a busy town centre.
Monday to Friday 0900 - 1700,
Saturday 0900 - 1600
The Ipswich Institute is as progressive now as when it was founded in 1824 - just nine years after the Battle of Waterloo! Dr. George Birkbeck's Mechanics' Institution was dedicated to making knowledge available to the 'artisans' of Ipswich and encouraging their general and vocational education.
Today as a registered educational charity the Institute is open to all who choose to join. Members come with a great variety of backgrounds and interests and all find something worth joining for - whether it be the library itself, the numerous leisure learning courses on offer, the educational lectures and trips, or the café and restaurant facilities. Through a link with the Association of Independent Libraries members are able to visit similar establishments across the United Kingdom. The Institute also gives financial support to a variety of local educational projects.
The Institute is the proud owner of two historic buildings in the heart of the town. The impressive vaulted building behind the shops in Tavern Street was bought for £1,000 in 1834 and still houses the well-stocked lending library. The elegant listed building known as The Admiral's House, close-by in Tower Street, was once occupied by Admiral Benjamin Page and visited by the Duke of Wellington. Bought by the Institute in 2001 it now houses an art centre, study rooms, a licensed restaurant and a comfortable coffee lounge.
While the Ipswich Institute has a sense of pride in its long history, it continues to demonstrate a willingness to adapt to changing times and the wishes of its members. New members are sure of a warm welcome and wherever possible everything is done to cater for those who have special needs. Above all Institute membership engenders a sense of belonging - to an establishment that is not only an intriguing part of the town's history but also a refreshing antidote to today's busy and materialistic world.