Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for IPSWICH

IPSWICH, a town and a district in Suffolk The town stands on the river Gipping or Orwell, at the point where the river exchanges the former name for the latter, and on the Great Eastern railway, 17 miles NE of Colchester, 25 SE by E of Bury-ST. Edmunds, and 68 NE of London. Three lines of railway go from it toward respectively Colchester, Saxmundham, and Bury-St. Edmunds; seventeen roads radiate from it toward all the points of the compass; the river Gipping gives it a considerable reach of inland navigation; and the Orwell, which extends hence to the sea at Harwich, and has throughout an estuarial character, gives it seaward outlet to all the ports of the world.

History.—Ipswich was a town in the time of the Saxons; belonged chiefly to Edith, the wife of the Confessor; was pillaged by the Danes in 991, 993, and 1000; and figured at Domesday as Gypeswic or Gyppewicus. That name signifies Gipping's town, or the town of the Gipping; and it came, in course of time, to be written first Yppswyche, then Ipswich. Fortifications, including rampart and ditch, are believed to have been round the town in the time of the Saxons, and to have been partially destroyed by the Danes. A castle is said to have been erected here by William the Conqueror, and to have been demolished by King Stephen. New fortifications, chiefly a wall round the town, with four gates named from the cardinal points, were constructed in the fifth year of John; and traces of the wall still exist. The town was made the seat of a temporary suffragan bishop by Henry VIII.; and it was the scene of three martyrdoms in the time of Mary. Edward I. kept Christmas here in 1297; Queen Isabella landed here in 1326; Edward III. spent Whitsuntide here in 1350; Elizabeth was here in 1561, 1565, and 1578; and George II. was here in 1737. Cardinal Wolsey, Bishops Brownrig and Laney, Butler, the physician of James I., Clara Reeve, author of the "Old English Baron, " Sarah Trimmer, a voluminous religions writer, and Duck, a minor poet, were natives. Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, Green, the author of "Diary of a Lover of Literature, " and Lofft, the friend of Kirke White, were residents. Bilney was apprehended in St. George's chapel; and the RevR. Canning, the editor of "Kirby's Suffolk Traveller, " was 40 years incumbent of St. Lawrence. A two story house was moved in an entire state 70 feet, without injury, in 1848; and an apricot tree, of about 5 tons in weight, was removed to a distance of about a mile in 1850.

Structure.—The town stands on a gentle declivity, at the foot of a range of hills, along the river Gipping or Orwell; comprises a labyrinthine maze of streets, aggregately in the form of a crescent; and occupies a very healthy situation, as to both the absorbency of the soil on which it stands, and the aspect and character of the heights in its neighbourhood. These heights, to the N and the E, shelter it from inclement winds, and emit from springs such a copious supply of water as exempted the town, in old times, from devastations of pestilence and fire which ravaged many other ancient towns. Ipswich not only escaped such devastations, but also escaped the calamities to which other places were subject during the civil wars; and it therefore retains a remarkably large amount of the architectural features or vestiges of former centuries. It still shows many interesting specimens of Tudor buildings; retains, on many others, remains of curious carved images or other sculptures; and presents a large aggregate of old, narrow, winding streets. Yet it has undergone a great amount both of modei.n renovation and of recent extension; it possesses, in a striking degree, combinations or juxtapositions of old character and of new; and it contains, even in its old portions, many spacious and comfortable houses, with annexed gardens. The main street presents a lively appearance, from its Tudor fronts, its gay shops, and its varionsly coloured bricks; and some of the recently formed stre.ets are airy, well edificed, and handsome. Sparrow's House, in the old butter market, was built in 1567, shows curious emblematic sculptures, and is said to have concealed Charles II. after the battle of Worcester. The Tankard public house formed part of the mansion of Sir A. Wingfield, of the time of Henry VIII.; and had a ceiling of groined work similar to that of Henry VII.'s chapel at Westminster, and a wainscotted room with curious has relief of the ' ' Judgment of Paris." The Archdeacon's house, near St. Mary at Tower, was built in 1471. A race course is about a mile from the town; and walks and drives, amid varied and pleasant scenery, are in all the neighbourhood. The seats of Stoke Park, Red House, Holy Wells, and the Chauntry are in the vicinity.

Public Buildings.—The old town hall was formed out of St. Mildred's church, one of the most ancient edifices in Ipswich, and at one time parochial and impropriated to St. Peter's priory; and it includes a record room of brick, said to have been erected in 1449. The new townhall was built in 1866-7; and is in the Italian style, after designs by Bellamy and Hardy. The court houses, for assizes and sessions, were opened in 1839; and they present a light and handsome exterior, chastely ornamented. The county jail was built in 1789, on Howard's plan; stands on a plot of about 1½ acre, enclosed with a wall 24 feet high; and has capacity for 132 male and 28 female prisoners. The borough jail, in the Rope walk, is a neat edifice, and has capacity for 36 male and 12 female prisoners. One market place was formed in 1812; and a fine market cross of 1510, which had stood on the site, was then taken down. Another market place, consisting of inner and outer quadrangles, with covered colonnades round them, was formed in 1811; but this has been taken down. A new and larger cattle market was formed near the railway station in 1856. The corn exchange was built in 1850; measures 77 feet by 66; and has a central light 37 feet by 23, and a portico. The custom house, on the quay, was built in 1845; and is a brick edifice, in the Italian style. The post office was recently rebuilt. The artillery militia barracks were erected in 1855; occupy a site of 2½ acres on the crest of a hill, on the N side of the town; and include an under ground magazine, capable of holding from 20 to 30 tons of gunpowder. A handsome iron bridge connects the town with Stoke hamlet; another bridge is on the line of the road to Colchester; and a third crosses the Gipping to the marshes and Mary-Stoke. The masonic hall and masonic buildings, in Brook street, were erected in 1866; occupy a space of 102 feet in length; and comprise an entrancehall and vestibule, -robing, committee, and ante rooms, -a banqueting room, 40 feet by 20, -and a hall 45 feet long, 22½ wide, and 22½ high. The assembly rooms, for balls and concerts, are handsomely fitted up. The temperance hall can accommodate about 500 persons. The theatre was formed out of a dancing school; and is notable for being the scene of the dramatic debut of Garrick, under the assumed name of Lyddal. Other public buildings will be noticed in subsequent paragraphs.

Parishes.—The town occupies only a small central portion of the area of the borough. That area has a circuit of about 19 miles; extends northward, about 51/8 miles, from King John's Ness to Westerfield, -and eastward, about 4¼ miles, from Spright's lane to the milestone on Rushmere heath; and contains the parishes of St. Mary-Stoke, St. Peter, St. Nicholas, St. Maryat-the-Elms, St. Matthew, St. Lawrence, St. Maryat-the-Quay, St. Clement, St. Mary-at-the-Tower, St. Stephen, St. Helen, and St. Margaret, the extra-parochial places of Shire-Hall-Yard, Warren-Houses, FelawsHouses, Cold Dunghills, High Street and George Street, and parts of the parishes of Belstead, Bramford, Rushmere, Sproughton, Westerfield, and Whitton-withThurlston. Pop. in 1861, of St. Mary-Stoke, 2, 518; of St. Peter, 3, 639; of St. Nicholas, 1, 912; of St. Mary-atthe-Elms, 1, 178; of St. Matthew, 6, 216; of St. Lawrence, 502; of St. Mary-at-the-Quay, 1, 017; of St. Clement, 7, 061; of St. Mary-at-the-Tower, 984; of St. Stephen, 679; of St. Helen, 2, 748; of St. Margaret, 8, 108; of Shire-Hall-Yard, 305; of Warren-Houses, 26; of Felaws-Houses, 25; of Cold Dunghills, 44; of High Street, 20; of George Street, 9; of the part of Belstead, none; of the part of Bramford, 37; of the part of Rushmere, 240; of the part of Sproughton, 15; of the part of Westerfield, 261; of the part of Whitton-with-Thurlston, 406. A section of St. Clement parish was, in 1837, constituted a parochial chapelry; and bears the name of Holy Trinity. Pop. in 1861, 2, 326. Those parishes which are rural and have distinctive names, are noticed in their own alphabetical places. The livings of St. Mary-Stoke, St. Matthew, St. Clement, St. Stephen, and St. Helen are rectories, and those of St. Peter, St. Nicholas, St. Mary-at-the-Elms, St. Lawrence, St. Maryat-the-Tower, St. Margaret, and Holy Trinity are vicarages, in the diocese of Norwich. St. Clement is united with St. Helen; and St. Margaret is united with the p. curacy of a suppressed parish called St. John. Value of St. Mary-Stoke, £337;* of St. Matthew, £249;* of St. Clement, with St. Helen, £326;* of St. Stephen, £150;* of St. Peter, £138;* of St. Nicholas, £150; of St. Mary-at-the Elms, £80; of St. Lawrence, £175; of St. Mary-at-the-Quay, £103;* of St. Mary-at-the-Tower, £103;* of St. Margaret, with St. John, £300;* of Holy Trinity, £160. * Patrons of St. Mary-Stoke, the Dean and Chapter of Ely; of St. Matthew, the Lord Chancellor; of St. Clement with St. Helen, of St. Stephen, and of Holy Trinity, the Church Patronage Society; of St. Margaret with St. John, and of St. Peter, Simeon's Trustees; of St. Nicholas, St. Mary-at-the-Elms, St. Lawrence, St. Mary-at-the-Quay, and St. Mary-at-the-Tower, the Parishioners.

Churches.—.Nine churches are recorded to have been in Ipswich at Domesday; but three of these were anciently demolished, probably by a storm in 1287, and were not rebuilt. Twenty-one parish churches are said to have been within the town and its liberties at a later period; but some of these also have disappeared. The places of worship within the borough, in 1851, were 15 of the Church of England, with 8, 167 sittings; 2 of Independents, with 1, 372 s.; 4 of Baptists, with 3, 006 s.; 1 of Quakers, with 600 s.; 1 of Unitarians, with 850 s.; 2 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 855 s.; 1 of Primitive Methodists, with 300 s.; 1 of the Wesleyan Association, with 350 s.; 1 of Brethren, with 60 s.; 1 of an isolated congregation, with 120 s.; 1 of Roman Catholics, with 300 s.; and 1 of Jews, with 37 s. Most of the parish churches are ancient, and require little or no notice. St. Mary-Stoke was given to the dean and chapter of Ely by King Edgar, and has a good later English roof. St. Matthew's was restored and enlarged in 1860, and has a new roof of elaborate design and workmanship. St. Clement's contains a tomb to Eldred, who went round the world with Cavendish, and brasses of Tye, 1583, and Cooke, 1607. St. Peter's is Norman; belonged to an Augustinian priory, founded in the time of Henry II. by T. Lacy, and suppressed by Cardinal Wolsey; and contains an old font, and a brass of 1604. St. Nicholas' has a fine water drain, and contains three brasses, two of them dated 1490 and 1500. St. Lawrence' contains a picture by Sir. R. Kerr Porter. St. Mary-at-the-Quay has a good later English roof, and contains a coloured brass of 1525 and another brass. St. Mary-at-the-Tower was used once by the guild of Corpus Christi, -afterwards by the borough corporation; has remains of screen work; and contains three brasses, two of them dated 1500 and 1506. St. Margaret's is one of the best of the old churches. Holy Trinity church was built and endowed in 1835, at a cost of £15, 000.-The independent chapel, in Crown-street, was built in 1865, at a cost of £2, 040; is in the decorated English style; and has a tower and spire. The Wesleyan chapel, in Museum street, was built in 1861, at a cost of £2, 000; and is in the early English style. The Roman Catholic chapel of St. Pancras was built in 1863, at a cost of £3, 400; is in the Italian Gothic style; has a lofty fleche, with large statues of angels round the base; and coiitains an elaborate altar, with richly carved reredos. An ultra mural cemetery, ornamentally laid out, was formed in 1855, at a short distance from the town; and all the old graveyards were then closed. A priory of Black canons was founded at an ancient parish church of the Holy Trinity before 1177; underwent destruction by fire; was rebuilt, in the time of Richard I., by John Oxford, Bishop of Norwich; and was given, at the dissolution, to Sir Thomas Pope. The Augustinian priory already noticed in connexion with St. Peter's church, was replaced by Wolsey with a college for a dean, twelve secular canons, eight clerks, and eight choristers, together with a grammar school designed as a nursery to his great college in Oxford; but this institution fell with the fall of Wolsey, and is now represented by only a gate of decorated brick work. A Black Dominican friary was founded northward of the church of St. Mary-at-the-Quay, in the time of Henry III.; was given, at the dissolution, to William Sabyn: was purchased by the borough corporation; and was converted, in its different parts, into an hospital, an almshouse, a court hall, a house of industry, a public library, and a free grammar school. A Franciscan friary was founded on the bank of the Gipping, westward of St. Nicholas' church, in the time of Edward I., by Lord Tibetoft of Nettlestead; and is now, or was lately, represented by some small remains in a gardener's ground. A Carmelite convent was founded on the mutual border of the parish of St. Nicholas and the parish of St. Lawrence, about 1279, by Sir Thomas Loudham and others; continued partly standing in the early part of last century, and was then used as a county jail; but is now quite extinct.

Schools and Institutions.—The free grammar school was founded in 1477; was long held in the refectory of the Black Dominican friary; is now held in a handsome edifice, in the Tudor style, built in 1852; has £57 a year from endowment, 8 scholarships and 2 exhibitions; and had, for a master, Jeremy Collier the non juror. The blue coat and the red sleeve schools also are endowedThe industrial training school for penitent orphan females is conjoined with a probationary home; was founded in 1857; and is supported by voluntary contribution. There are also national schools and denominational schools.- The museum of natural history, together with kindred things, was erected in 1847, and is supported by a corporation rate. The public library contains about 8, 000 volumes. The mechanics' institution includes a large lecture hall, and has a library of about 7, 000 volumes. There are an arboretum, public gardens, a horticultural society, a young men's Christian association, a Church of England young men's society, a working men's college and club, and a bathing house.-The East Suffolk hospital was founded in 1836; accommodates about 40 indoor patients; and has usually about 200 outdoor patients. Two lunatic asylums, the Bellvue and the Grove, are in St. Helen's parish; and, at the census of 1861, had 10 and 11 inmates. There are several alms houses, a shipwrecked seamen's society, and other charitable institutions. The total yearly amount of endowed charities is £2, 459.

Trade.—Ipswich has a head post office‡ in King street, a receiving post office† at Wet Dock, a railway station, with tele graph, three banking offices, and eight chief inns; and publishes six weekly newspapers. A weekly corn and cattle market is held on Tuesday; weekly general markets are held on Tuesday and Saturday; a fair for live stock and pedlery is held on the first Tuesday of May and the two following days; and a fair for lambs is held, at Handford Hall, on 22 Aug. and the two following days. The town was formerly famed for its manufacture of woollen cloth; and it now has a silk factory, flax mills, roperies, stay making establishments, breweries, malting houses, tanneries, ship building yards, lime and cement works, a patent artificial stone manufactory, and extensive works, on a site of 14 acres, for the manufacture of agricultural implements and machinery. Its commerce also is very considerable; and consists chiefly in the export of corn, malt, cattle, and local manufactures, and in the import of coal, iron, timber, seed, brimstone, wine, spirits, and colonial produce. The harbour includes quays and a wet dock, the latter formed in 1842; and, although the Orwell dries far down at low water, vessels drawing 16 feet can now ascend to the town and float in the wet dock. The vessels belonging to the port, at the beginning of 1864, were 52 small sailing vessels, of aggregately 1, 728 tons; 127 large sailing vessels, of aggregately 13, 923 tons; 5 small steam vessels, of aggregately 219 tons; and 5 large steam vessels, of aggregately 436 tons. The vessels which entered, in 1863, were 6 British sailing vessels, of aggregately 1, 529 tons, from British colonies; 88 British sailing vessels, of aggregately 9, 864 tons, from foreign countries; 114 foreign sailing vessels, of aggregately 14, 096 tons, from foreign countries; 1, 022 sailing vessels, of aggregately 79, 748 tons, coastwise; and 16 steam vessels, of aggregately 3, 440 tons, coastwise. The vessels which cleared, in 1863, were 48 British sailing vessels, of aggregately 3, 921 tons, to foreign countries; 71 foreign sailing vessels, of aggregately 6, 995 tons, to foreign countries; 1 British steam vessel, of 147 tons, to foreign countries; 852 sailing vessels, of aggregately 45, 138 tons, coastwise; and 16 steam vessels, of aggregately 3, 440 tons, coastwise. The amount of customs in 1862 was £19, 726, and it greatly rose in 1865, and was £24, 371 in 1867. Steamers sail regularly to Harwich and to London.

The Borough.—Ipswich was first chartered by King John; got numerous charters from subsequent monarchs; and, previous to the passing of the new municipal act, was governed mainly by charters of Henry VIII. and Charles II. It is now divided into five wards, and is governed by a mayor, ten aldermen, and thirty councillors; and it sends now, and has sent since the time of Edward I., two members to parliament. It has a police force of 37 men, -maintained, in 1864, at a cost of £2, 330; and it is a seat of summer assizes, quarter sessions, county courts, and weekly petty sessions; and is the place of election, and a polling place, for East Suffolk. The borough income in 1855 was £7, 591. The value of real property in 1860 was £164, 852; of which £2, 550 were in gas works, £35, 870 in railways, and £4, 138 in the Gipping navigation. The number of electors in 1868 was 2, 237. The area of the municipal borough is identical with that of the parliamentary borough; is the same now as before the reform act; and comprises 13.8 square miles. Pop. in 1851, 32, 914; in 1861, 37, 950. Houses, 8, 272.

The District.—The poor law district or union of Ipswich is mainly, but not altogether, identical with the borough; it includes not part only, but the entire, of the parishes of Westerfield and Whitton-with-Thurlston; it excludes the parts of Belstead, Bramford, Rushmere, and Sproughton; and it is divided into the sub-district of St. Matthew, containing St. Mary-Stoke, St. Peter, St. Nicholas, St. Mary-at-the-Elms, St. Matthew, and Whitton-with-Thurlston, -the sub-district of St. Clement, containing St. Lawrence, St. Mary-at-the-Quay, St. Clement, Shire-Hall-Yard, and Warren-Houses; and the sub-district of St. Margaret, containing St. Mary-atthe-Tower, St. Stephen, St. Helen, St. Margaret, FelawsHouses, Cold-Dunghills, High-Street, George-Street, and Westerfield. Acres of the whole, 8, 395. Poor rates in 1863, £18, 108. Pop. in 1851, 32, 759; in 1861, 37, 881. Houses, 8, 253. Marriages in 1863, 353; births, 1, 286, -of which 97 were illegitimate; deaths, 1, 078, -of which 472 were at ages under 5 years, and 15 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 3, 302; births, 11, 911; deaths, 7, 864. The places of worship, in 1851, were the same as those in the borough. The schools were 21 public day schools, with 2, 724 scholars; 61 private day schools, with 1, 323 s.; and 15 Sunday schools, with 1, 609 s. The workhouse is in St. Peter's parish; has capacity for 400 persons; and, at the census of 1861, had 279 inmates.


(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a town and a district"   (ADL Feature Type: "cities")
Administrative units: Ipswich CP       Ipswich PLU/RegD       Suffolk AncC
Place names: GYPESWIC     |     GYPPEWICUS     |     HOLY TRINITY     |     IPSWICH
Place: Ipswich

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