Suffolk IP1 1
The ancient town of Ipswich on the River Orwell was once the major port for the east of England. This honour is now shared by the container port of Felixstowe and the passenger ferry port of Harwich, both situated at the mouth of the River Orwell.
Although Ipswich is the County town of Suffolk, it is physically situated near the southern border with Essex. It is close to the old Roman town of Colchester, and the picturesque towns and villages of what is known as Constable Country.
A Rich Old & A Stunning New Architectural Heritage
The town is architecturally rich, with a fascinating mix of old and new. For 1,500 years the town has played an important role in English history and its many attractive old buildings and narrow streets are a testament to this.
As well, Ipswich is home to some stunning modern architecture. In the centre of town is an exceptional glass clad building designed by internationally renowned British architect, Sir Norman Foster. Built in 1974, it has been Grade I Listed because of its innovative design.
First Royal Charter in 1200
Long before the Norman Conquest in 1066, the town was such an important centre for trade that it minted its own coin under Royal licence. It received its first Royal Charter from King John in 1200.
It was an important centre for Christianity and its many abbeys and monasteries drew pilgrims from all over Europe. Medieval Ipswich grew increasingly prosperous from the Suffolk wool trade, exporting cloth to other countries. By the year 1500 the town was made a King's Port - one of only eleven enjoying many trading privileges.
Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, England’s most infamous and influential political character was born and schooled in Ipswich. Despite his fall from grace, you can still see structures in town associated with him.
A Centre for Emigration to the Americas during the 1600s
Adventurers from the town were among the first to settle in the New World, founding, in 1607, Jamestown, Virginia. The town was a centre for emigration to America throughout the 1600s.
The historic waterfront (just a few minutes’ walk from the centre of town) has been transformed with new marinas, restaurants and bars. Some beautiful old sailing barges are moored at the quays making it a picturesque spot to spend a bit of time.
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Area Played a Vital Role in WW2
Because of its proximity to Occupied Europe during the Second World War, the east coast of England played a vital role in the defence of Britain. Many Allied airmen were stationed at bases all along the coast. This wartime history is remembered in two unusual museums – Martlesham Heath Control Tower Museum and Clifford Road Air Raid Shelter Museum.
Large Collection of John Constable & Thomas Gainsborough
To see the largest collection of John Constable and Thomas Gainsborough paintings outside of London do not miss visiting the beautiful Tudor Christchurch Mansion Museum. Unbelievably, entry is free!
Another famous artist connected with Ipswich is the brilliant cartoonist Carl Giles. Don’t miss the wonderful sculpture of his formidable ‘Grandma’ at the junction of Queen Street and Princes Street.
A Proud Artistic Heritage
The town is very proud of its artistic heritage and encourages the erection of modern sculpture. There are a number of galleries exhibiting contemporary works.
For lovers of outdoor markets Ipswich has four per week in the Cornhill - Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Occasionally specialist markets are held on a Sunday and details of these can be obtained from the Tourist Information Centre.
There is so much to see and do and the town caters admirably for visitors of all ages.
Contact & Further Information
The town centre is pedestrianised and visitors are encouraged to use public transport or one of the two ‘Park and Ride’ facilities. There is also a free shuttle bus running within the town.
Google Maps - Ipswich