It’s Suffolk’s county town and steeped in old English history, but is there really much more to Ipswich than meets the eye?
WANDER along the high street of any UK town these days, and you’re in danger of feeling like you’re taking an uninterrupted de ja vu-style tour of a regurgitated retail existence.
You’ll see the same shopfronts screaming back at you no matter how far you’ve removed yourself from your normal stomping ground.
But, cast your eye a few feet upward, and that’s where a town like Ipswich leaps into a class of its own.
Unlike many of its other modernised town centre siblings, Suffolk’s county town still proudly boasts many ancient and attractive buildings.
She’s enjoying a major regeneration at the moment, with the waterfront and the town itself bringing modern homes, eateries and the like, but she still holds on to her roots.
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Perhaps her proud associations with the likes of Cardinal Wolsey – no less – are a huge part of that historic pride. It was Thomas Wolsey, the son of an Ipswich butcher, who was born in the town in 1471, and went on to become the Cardinal and Lord Chancellor to Henry VIII. Still in the town today as a symbol of his affection for his birthplace, lies the creation known commonly as Wolsey’s Gateway.
Barely an hour’s train journey from the heart of London, Ipswich is only now being viewed by city-dwellers as a very “acceptable” and accommodating bolthole. Perhaps that fact alone explains an awful lot about the town’s most recent development plans and long-term investment ideas.
Along with waterfront apartments and loft-style living in converted factories, more retail, entertainment and business opportunities have come to light in recent years. Chain cafes now find their place among independent boutiques, salons and prestigious jewellers.
The town’s port is still a major note of significance in British industry – and when combined with Harwich and Felixstowe, is second in Europe only to Rotterdam by scale.
(Photo above courtesy of Simon Knott - email@example.com)
She also boasts some 13 Medieval churches to her name – possibly more than any other town in Britain. Her reputation is highly likely to be enhanced even more in the coming months and years, as a new university comes to the town and yet more people realise one of the jewels in the East Anglian crown.
Ipswich Market is held every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and offers a vast range of food, crafts, clothes and other delights. Ipswich Market was awarded the Best Small Market of the Year 2010.
Ipswich has a thriving arts and culture scene, being home to The New Wolsey Theatre
, offering plays, musicals, workshops and courses, the Suffolk Craft Society
, located in the centre of Ipswich and offers the finest sales outlet for contemporary designer crafts with a changing display of members' work, the Red Rose Chain
, an independent film and theatre company that hosts theatre in Theatre in the Forest, Dance East
, a regional dance centre which holds regular national and international performances, The Ipswich Regent & The Corn Exchange
, both local entertainment venues hosting big name comedians, live music, theatre shows, dinner dances, balls and more.
Ipswich also hosts the yearly Ip-Art Festival
, and a number of Art Exhibitions - most notably the Saatchi Exhibition and the Wildlife Photograher of the Year Exhibition, both in 2010-2011. Please see Art Exhibitions Suffolk
For full details of events in Ipswich please see Days Out in Ipswich
. Some things you might not know about Ipswich:
Ipswich was granted its first Charter in 1200.
Ipswich’s Ancient House dates back to the 15th century and is rumoured to have been the hiding place of Charles II after his defeat in the Battle of Worcester in 1651.
The Cornhill has been the centre of town life since medieval times. It was here in about 1555 that the Ipswich Martyrs were burnt at the stake for their Protestant beliefs.
George II, King Louis XVIII of France and Lord Nelson have all stayed at the Great White Horse Hotel – as has Charles Dickens.
The Town Hall was built in 1868. Above the entrance porch are statues representing Commerce, Justice, Law and Learning, and Agriculture.
Christchurch Mansion was the site of the Augustinian Priory of the Holy Trinity founded in the twelfth century.
The Round Pond and Wilderness Pond are fed by natural springs and supplied the monks with carp, tench, roach and gudgeon.
In 1536, during Henry VIII's reign, the Priory was suppressed and it's estates seized by the Crown.
Paul Withypoll, a successful London merchant, bought the site in 1545 and in 1548 his son Edmund began to build a house on the ruins of the Priory.
Jimmy Doherty based his TV series, Jimmy's Farm
, on his farm in Wherstead, just outside of Ipswich. You can visit the farm by clicking here - Jimmy's Farm, Ipswich
The Grandma statue on the corner of Princes Street and Queen Street commemorates the famous cartoonist Carl Giles, and is designed to be looking up at the office where Giles worked for many years.
World-famous artist, Maggi Hambling
, attended the Ipswich School of Art in 1962–1964.
Michael Palin, current globe-trotter and former Monty Python comedian, met his girlfriend, Helen Gibbins, whilst on holiday in Southwold in 1959. This meeting, alongside Palin’s other childhood memories, became fictionalised in his play, East of Ipswich
On October 31 2005, Cradle of Filth lead singer, Dani Filth, married his girlfriend Toni in Ipswich.
For more information on Suffolk's celebrity links, please see Famous Suffolk Residents
As you can see, Ipswich is a fantastic town - and magnificent weddings and celebrations can be had there. Please see Ipswich Weddings, Receptions & Honeymoons
for more information.
If you have some free time whilst you're in Ipswich, we suggest that you have a look at www.ipswichcentralplus.com
. It's a reward scheme for people who use the town centre, and it has some genuinely great offers. It's open to visitors as well as residents. And it's FREE!
Please also see - - Ipswich AttractionsA Guide to Ipswich HotelsAccommodation in and around IpswichEating out in Ipswich Pubs in Ipswich
What do you love about Ipswich, what is your favourite restaurant, shop, inn, what did you do during your visit? Please send all comments and reviews to us at firstname.lastname@example.org