Built on a strong trading past, this port town retains historic charm and has grown to be an appealing cultural center.
Understand the reason for Ipswich’s long history as you stand at the Waterfront where shipbuilding and trading began nearly 1,000 years ago. The rather stern-looking Customs House is a reminder of the town’s mercantile past. Today this area has excellent shopping and dining just a short walk from the University of Suffolk.
Celebrating its long history, Ipswich’s museums appeal to varied interests. Bring kids to the Ipswich Museum to see taxidermied animals and learn about 70 millions years of history in the local area and other countries. Climb aboard all types of vehicles at the Transport Museum. The Ancient House, built in the late 1500s, displays fascinating exterior plaster decoration known as pargeting. Christchurch Mansion, of the same vintage, offers a peek into the past in a Tudor home now containing the Wolsey Art Gallery.
New Wolsey Theatre is much more modern, offering original plays, music, pantomime and other performances. See the Willis Building, constructed in 1975, with a sleek modern appearance but walls curved to match the path of the town’s medieval streets.
Thomas Wolsey, whose name appears throughout the town, is one of Ipswich’s most famous former residents. Wolsey’s Gate is the only remaining part of a school that he founded in the early 1500s. See the Cardinal Thomas Wolsey statue depicting this educator seated in flowing robes and extending a hand to encourage students.
The Question Mark sculpture is a more modern work of art, also intended to serve as motivation for students in its position outside the Waterfront Building of the University Campus Suffolk. Surrounding the university area, look for lively pubs and cafés serving students and faculty.
Ipswich is a Suffolk County port town on the River Orwell, leading to the North Sea. Drive here from London in less than 2 hours or take a train in 2 to 3 hours. While you’re here delve into the town’s fascinating past and enjoy all the amenities of a thriving modern city and cultural center.