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 could be anywhere as the retail experience looks pretty much the same all over, with chains and coffee shops dominating.


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.


Ipswich is 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.

What’s On Ipswich
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Perhaps her proud associations with the likes of Cardinal Wolsey 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 viewed by city-dwellers as a very “acceptable” and accommodating bolthole. Along with waterfront apartments, the 4-star Salthouse Harbour Hotel and 2 AA Rosette Restaurant, and loft-style living in converted factories, more retail, entertainment and business opportunities have come to light in recent years. A few chain cafes now find their place among independent boutiques, salons and prestigious jewellers, but Ipswich still has many independent restaurants and shops. Several combine the historic charm with cutting-edge cuisine – Mariners fine dining French restaurant on board an 1899 Dutch boat down in the Marina is another. You won’t go hungry in Ipswich!


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. Check out Special Offers from Hotels in Ipswichand find other discounts in Ipswich here


(Photo above courtesy of Simon Knott – [email protected])

She also boasts some 13 Medieval churches to her name – possibly more than any other town in Britain.

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, Dance East, a regional dance centre which holds regular national and international performances based in Ipswich Marina. The Ipswich Regent & The Corn Exchange are both 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 high-quality Art Exhibitions (please see Art Exhibitions Suffolk for current listings).

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.

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.


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 from 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 allaboutipswich.com for local events and news

Please also see –
A Guide to Ipswich Hotels

Accommodation in and around Ipswich

Eating 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 [email protected].

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