Visit Ipswich and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
Ipswich, Suffolk. The county town of Suffolk. From the Anglo-Saxon name Gipeswic (the ‘g’ being pronounced as a ‘y’) comes the present name of the town. It is a place with a long history, a borough even before the Norman Conquest and with a charter granted by King John in 1199. Its fortunes fluctuated after it had reached a peak of importance in the 16th century but then in the 19th it began to rise again and is now not only a major port and market town but also the county town of Suffolk, with a population of over 100,000 people.
Ipswich was the birthplace of Cardinal Wolsey and the home for some years of the rising star of English painting, Thomas Gainsborough. Many more will perhaps remember it for its association with Mr Pickwick, and with Margaret Catchpole, the adventuress who was deported to Australia for horse-stealing in 1801.
Northgate Street, Westgate Street and Tower Rampart help establish the medieval walls of old Ipswich, and Priory Street reminds us that the Augustinians, Franciscans, Dominicans and the Carmelites all set up houses in the town. In 1527 Wolsey founded the Cardinal College of St Mary. It was to remain unfinished, all that is left is the red-brick gateway, with its royal coat of arms, in College Street close to St Peter's Church.
Perhaps the most spectacular of all the buildings of Ipswich is the Ancient House in Butter Market. The house was built in 1567 and is also known as Sparrowe's House after the family who lived in it for a long period. The main front of the house is an outstanding example of the East Anglian art of pargeting, the carving of plaster-work into decorative features and patterns. Underneath its oriel windows are panels representing the then known continents of the world. Inside there is magnificent oak panelling and ceilings with heavy carved beams.
In Christchurch Park on the other side of Crown Street is Christchurch Mansion which stands on the site of the Priory of the Holy Trinity founded by the Augustinians. It was in 1548 that Edmund Withipoll began building his new house which was twice visited by Queen Elizabeth I, most appropriately as it had been designed on the Elizabethan E plan. In the 17th century it was apparently damaged by fire, and much rebuilding took place. At the end of the nineteenth century it was proposed that the house and land be cleared to make a housing estate, but this scheme was thwarted by the generosity of the Cobbold family who presented the house to the town on condition that the grounds were purchased and made into a park. Thus came into existence what has been called the finest park in any provincial town and a museum which contains a fine collection of furniture and pictures as well as an art gallery, a memorial to Wolsey, with works by Gainsborough, Constable, Munnings and many other famous Suffolk artists.
The Ipswich Museum of Archaeology and Natural History is in the High Street and contains an impressive collection of birds and animals, geological specimens and many other things which would delight adults as well as children.
On the quayside is the Old Custom House built in the Palladian style in 1844, an otherwise symmetrical composition except for the Clock Tower at the north-west corner.
The civic church is St Mary-le-Tower, in Tower Street, rebuilt in the 19th century but with many interesting brasses. Among the other churches in the town must be mentioned St Margaret's close to Christchurch Mansion; St Matthew's with its outstanding l5th-century font; and St Peter's with its Tournai font, one of seven similar fonts in England made of black marble imported from Belgium at the end of the 12th century. In contrast is the Congregational church in Dryden Road built in 1957-8 in contemporary style. Again not to be missed is the Unitarian Meeting House in Friars Street, 1699-1700, a building of simple dignity with a fine pulpit and brass chandelier.
Just off the A45 to the south east is Ipswich Airport adding a further dimension to the network of roads, railway and river which have served Ipswich for so long. Two miles to the south of the town is Freston Tower, a red brick mid-l6th-century folly containing six rooms one above another, in a park beside the River Orwell.
Nearby towns: Aldeburgh, Colchester, Felixstowe, Hadleigh, Harwich, Lavenham, Manningtree, Needham Market, Stowmarket, Sudbury, Woodbridge
Nearby villages: Baylham, Bealings, Belstead, Bramford, Burstall, Capel St. Mary, Chattisham, Chelmondiston, Copdock, Debenham, Freston, Great Blakenham, Grundisburgh, Hintlesham, Levington, Nacton, Nayland, Playford, Rushmere, Sproughton, Westerfield, Wherstead, Witnesham, Woolverstone
Have you decided to visit Ipswich or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a Ipswich bed and breakfast (a Ipswich B&B or Ipswich b and b)
- a Ipswich guesthouse
- a Ipswich hotel (or motel)
- a Ipswich self-catering establishment, or
- other Ipswich accommodation