Ipswich, Suffolk

IPSWICH, SUFFOLK, a municipal, county and parliamentary borough and county town of Suffolk, England, 69 m. N.E. by E. from London by the Great Eastern railway. Pop. (1901), 66,630. It stands on a gentle ascent above the left bank of the river Gipping, which here widens into the tidal estuary of the Orwell. This land-locked inlet extends n m. S.E. to Harwich and Felixstowe at opposite sides of its mouth, near which the wider Stour estuary unites with it. Its banks are gently undulating, well wooded and picturesque. In the lower and older portion of Ipswich, with its irregular streets, are some few antiquarian remains. Sparrowe's house (1567), named from a family which occupied it for some two centuries, is well preserved and has ornate gabled fronts to two streets. Archdeacon's Place (1471) isanother still earlier example. Wolsey's Gateway (1528), a Tudor brick building, is the only remnant of the Cardinal's foundation to supply scholars to his great college (Cardinal's College, now Christ Church) at Oxford. The older churches are all towered flint-work structures, wholly or mainly Perpendicular in style, with the exception of St Peter's, which is principally Decorated, with a Norman font of marble. They include St Margaret's with a beautiful oak Tudor roof, elaborately painted temp. William and Mary; St Mary-at-Key (or Quay), with a similar roof; St Lawrence; and St Clement's. The most noteworthy modern churches are St Michael's (1880), All Saints' (1892), St John the Baptist's (1899) and St Bartholomew's (1901). The Roman Catholic church of St Pancras (1863), a late First Pointed edifice, has a richly carved reredos and a lofty fleche. Among public buildings, the town hall (1868) is an imposing structure in Venetian style, with clock tower; forming part of a fine group including the corn exchange (1881) and post office (1880). The museum, including an art gallery, contains archaeological and ornithological collections, and a noteworthy series or Red Crag fossils. It was founded in 1847, and moved to new buildings in 1881. The East Suffolk hospital was founded in 1836. In the theatre David Garrick made his first important and regular appearance in 1741. The grammar school, dating at latest from 1477, was refounded by Queen Elizabeth in 1565, and is housed in buildings in Tudor style (1851). There are borough science, art and technical schools, with a picture gallery in the fine Tudor mansion (1549) in Christchurch Park. There are also a middle school for boys, a high school and an endowed school for girls, a scientific society, corporation library and small medical library. Of two beautiful arboretums the upper is public; part of Christchurch Park adjacent to this is owned by the corporation; there are also recreation grounds and a race-course. Industries include large engineering and agricultural implement works, railway plant works, the making of artificial manures, boots and shoes, clothing, bricks and tobacco and malting. The port has a dock of nearly 30 acres, accommodating vessels drawing 19 ft. and a large extent of quayage. Imports are principally grain, timber and coal; exports agricultural machinery, railway plant, artificial manures, oil cake, etc. Ipswich is a suffragan bishopric in the diocese of Norwich. The 1 parliamentary borough returns two members. The corporation consists of a mayor, 10 aldermen and 30 councillors. Area, 8112 acres.

A Roman villa has been discovered here. But the Saxon settlement at the head of the Orwell was doubtless the first of any importance. In 991 the town (Gipeswic, Gipeswich) was sacked by vikings. It owes its subsequent prosperity to its situation on a harbour admirably suited for trade with the Continent. The townsmen had acquired the privileges of burgesses by 1086 when Roger Bigot kept the borough in the king's hands. In 1200 King John granted the burgesses their first charter, confirming their town to.them to be held at fee-farm, exempting them from tolls and similar customs, and granting them a gild-merchant. These liberties were extended in 1256; Edward I. and Edward III. both resumed the borough for short periods, but the charter of 1200 was confirmed by almost every subsequent sovereign. The burgesses were definitely incorporated in 1464 and re-incorporated in 1665 under a charter which remained in force previous to its modification by the Municipal Act of 1835, except during a short period in the reign of Charles II. From 1295 onwards the town has sent two representatives to parliament. The cattle market, held on Tuesdays, and the provision market on Saturdays are the prescriptive right of the corporation. A September fair, still held in 1792, was in the hands of the corporation in the 17th century. Large ironworks were established late in the 18th century. The wool and cloth trade which flourished here in the 14th and 15th centuries was superseded by the manufacture of sailcloth, now represented by the sacking industry.

See Victoria County History: Suffolk; J. Wodderspoon, Memorials of the Ancient Town of Ipswich (ed. 1850).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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