THE COUPLE behind a new cinema in Abingdon’s Abbey Hall have been chosen to run the adjoining Guildhall.

The historic building, which is owned by the town council, has recently reopened for hire after an extensive £1m refurbishment.

The hope is that revenue can be generated through hosting weddings, conferences and community events in the five revamped rooms, as well as providing catering.

Oxford Mail:

The refurbished Roysse Room

Sue and Ian Wiper, who own The Regal cinema in Evesham, Worcestershire, signed a rental agreement in April for the Abbey Hall until the summer of 2020.

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The venue, which is the 1960s extension to the Guildhall reopened as a cinema last month with a screening of the Mary Poppins sequel after three years empty.

Mr Wiper said: “We are delighted to be managing the Guildhall which seemed to make sense given our hospitality experience and the fact that we already have a whole team in situ running the cinema seven days a week, from 9am until late.”

A new website at has been launched and features images of the five historic rooms; the Roysse Room, the Old Magistrates Court – with magistrates bench, dock and cells still intact – the Abbey Room, the Bear Room and the grand council chamber.

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The Guildhall restoration also included refurbishing the kitchens and there are now two resident chefs serving everything from wedding receptions to food during films.

There are plans for pop-up supper clubs, cooking demonstrations and film-themed food events.

Kerry Harris, Guildhall events manager, said: “We have already received numerous enquiries for weddings, parties, clubs and societies and corporate events and we look forward to meeting as many residents as possible over the open day weekends.”

Hire rates for local community groups and weddings have been set by the town council at £40 per three-hour session for the larger Roysse Room and council chamber, and £24 for the other rooms.

Wedding ceremonies will be charged at £300 and £150 respectively.

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In the longer term, both sections of the Guildhall are set to become the centre of a ‘community hub’ following an announcement last January by Oxfordshire County Council and the town council that the two authorities plan to work more closely to join up public services.