The capital of Suffolk, started its life as a small Roman port on the furthest navigable reaches of the River Orwell. During the middle ages the port prospered from the export of Suffolk wool, textiles and agricultural products. Centuries of development have made Ipswich into a major city and the main centre of employment in the region. Despite its continued expansion the city has managed to retain much of its original heritage.
Students of modern architecture will enjoy the splendid Contship House and Suffolk University Campus at Wet-Dock and the Willis Corron building in Friars Street. The city's rich Victorian heritage is reflected in the Old Customs House at Wet-Dock and in the Town Hall and Corn Exchange in the town square. The city also boasts 12 medieval churches, reflecting the town's former importance and prosperity. A good example is the 15th century St Margaret's church, a lavish flint and stone building with a double hammerbeam roof, incorporating some very fine 17th century painted panels. Also a remarkable 16th century Unitarian Meeting House stands in Friar Street.
The Buttermarket area has a number of highly ornate medieval houses, the most famous being the 'Ancient House' (or Sparrowe's House), which has some very richly carved 17th-c pargeting (ornamental facade plastering). The bookstore, located within, has original oak paneling and heavily carved beams.
The 16th century red-brick gateway in College Street, bearing a royal coat of arms, was built by the town's most famous son, Cardinal Wolsey (born in 1475). It was designed to be the portal for a college he founded in 1528 but the building project was abandoned when he fell from power.
Christchurch Mansion, located in its own park in the centre of town, is a rare and beautiful example of a mid 16th century Tudor house, that currently serves as a museum and art gallery. The city also has a local History Museum and a Transport Museum
Ipswich's waterfront, just a few minutes walk from the city centre, provides a well deserved break after a spate of business or shopping in town. The historic quayside area has recently been rejuvenated, with chic restaurants and modern bars that look out over the many yachts and cruisers moored in the marina. Tours of the Tolly Cobbold Brewery and Wet-Dock are available.
Tourist Information Centre:
|St Stephens Ch, St Stephens Lane, Ipswich IP1 1DP - Tel: 01473 258070|
Houses a local/natural history museum. Some of its more interesting exhibits are a reconstructed Roman Villa, Saxon weapons and jewellery excavated from a local cemetery, and replicas of the Mildenhall and Sutton Hoo treasures.
Opening times: Tue-Sat 10am - 5pm. Free Entry
Location: High Street, Ipswich IP1 3QH
Tel: 01473 433550
Image Credit: Jim Brewin (CC0)
A beautiful red-brick country house, built in 1548 by a wealthy Tudor merchant. Set in acres of glorious parkland that provides a green oasis close to the heart of the city. It is said that Queen Elizabeth I stayed there in 1561. It has many period rooms, furnished and decorated in 16th to 19th century styles. The adjacent Wolsey Art Gallery contains paintings by Constable, Gainsborough and Munnings - notably one of the best collections outside of London.
Opening times: Tue-Sat 10am - 5pm, Sun 12am - 4.30pm Free Entry
Location: Soane Street, Ipswich IP4 2PE
Displays include a large collection of transport vehicles, including vintage buses, cranes and lorries, all of which were either made or used in Ipswich.
Opening times: March-Oct: selected Mon, Tue, Wed 1pm - 4pm, Sun & BH 11am - 4pm. Free Entry
Location: Old Trolleybus Depot, Cobham Road, Ipswich, IP3 9JD - Tel: 01473 715666