On Wednesday, 12th February 1908, the Mayor of Ipswich, Harry Raffe was present with members of the Ipswich Free Churches gathered at the Town Hall, Ipswich for an “At Home” event hosted by the President of the Ipswich Free Church Council, Mr. Henry Underwood. Nearly all the three hundred and sixty invitations sent out had been accepted. The guests, including a number of ladies, began to assemble at seven o’clock and were received by Henry Underwood in the Council Chamber. Refreshments were served in the Library by a number of ladies from the various churches, and a programme of light music was enjoyably rendered by the Olga Sextet of instrumentalists, under the leadership of Mr. A B Smith. The more formal proceedings began at a quarter-past eight when Henry Underwood took the chair, he then seated himself by mistake in the mayoral chair, with the arms of the Borough of Ipswich above him. Harry Raffe called out to offer Henry the loan of the mayoral robes, which was laughingly declined! During his speech, Henry Underwood offered Harry Raffe sincere and hearty congratulations on becoming Mayor of Ipswich, and on the excellent idea to hold the Watchnight service in the Public Hall, and for Harry to celebrate his Mayoralty in such a way. Henry continued to say that now Harry was Mayor, he knew he had to leave politics behind, but was glad to know that he had not left behind his Free Church principles. Harry Raffe rose and thanked Henry Underwood. He continued to tell those gathered that he was thankful that he was not barred during his year of office from being concerned with religious bodies. He had, indeed, come into contact with the other parts of religious life in the town, and he had found a broadness of spirit which he had not been quite ready to give credit for. He was sure that when the next 9th November came round, he would have many more friends of the Established Church, from whom he had received the greatest kindness, than he had had before, and it would be a matter of the utmost gratification to him if he could bring all the sections of religious life in Ipswich a little closer during his year of office. A general vote of thanks was given to Henry Underwood for the reception, and to the Mayor for his presence was proposed by Alderman Grimwade in a humorous and felicitous term, which Mr. Frederick Edward Rands seconded.  E.A.D.T. – Thursday, 13th February 1908

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