The Rifle Hall in Halesworth was built as a theatre in 1792 by Joseph Hounslow from Bedford, the actor-manager of a touring company. Between 1812 and 1844, the theatre was run by David Fisher, described as a 'comedian from Swaffham', who owned a peripatetic company touring a circuit of theatres in East Anglia including the Fisher Theatre in Bungay. The repertoire took two years to tour the region with Halesworth having an Autumn season lasting about ten weeks every other year; the company was successful with links to the London stage. In 1844, the theatre was put up for auction; in the sales particulars it was described as a spacious brick-built and tiled building of about 66 ft by 40ft with boxes, stage, gallery, dressing rooms and fittings.
Between 1844 and 1862 the use of the Hall is uncertain, but after this time it was used as a volunteer infantry drill hall for the 1st Volunteer Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment. The Commanding Officer of the volunteers, Andrew Johnston, had recently died and the late Captain's family converted the theatre into a drill hall, renaming it The Rifle Hall in memoriam and presenting it to the town. The building was remodelled at this time: the roof structure was replaced, the existing west window was inserted, and an entrance façade with a gabled porch was constructed. The rear outshot at the north elevation may date to this time. In 1892, the building was extended and re-fronted to the design of Bottle and Olley at a cost of £689. The new entrance hall had a gallery and rooms over it. It is possible that the side extensions to the rear, under catslide roofs, were added at this time.
The Rifle Hall was used for drill practice until 1930, after which it was in use as a public hall and has remained so to this day. Further extensions have been added to the south and north elevations; the original side walls have been punched through to provide access to the extensions. The late-C19 viewing balcony for the drill hall remains, but both the balcony and the roof structure have been covered over.
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