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Nine of Ipswich’s oldest buildings reminds us of our marvellous history

PUBLISHED: 16:00 15 October 2017 | UPDATED: 09:11 16 October 2017

Thomas Wolsey Gate. Picture: JOHN BLATCHLY

Thomas Wolsey Gate. Picture: JOHN BLATCHLY

Our town is home to a range of magnificent buildings from varying periods, and the Ipswich Society has provided us with some of the oldest landmarks to keep an eye out for.

The Ancient House in Buttermarket. Picture: SIMON PARKER The Ancient House in Buttermarket. Picture: SIMON PARKER

Ancient House, 46-48 Buttermaket

This remarkable building was built in the 15th century, with original parts from 1567, but mostly dating from 1631. The building was bought by the Sparrowe family several years after it was built, who owned it for over 200 years, which is why it is also known as Sparrowes House. The family who owned it for over two centuries are responsible for the beautiful pargetting on the exterior, which represents Europe, America, Africa and Asia.

Pykenham's Gatehouse. Picture: IPSWICH SOCIETY Pykenham's Gatehouse. Picture: IPSWICH SOCIETY

Pykenham’s Gatehouse, Northgate Street

In 1471, William Pykenham was named the Archdeacon of Suffolk and had his Ipswich property on Northgate Street extended. He had an impressive gateway built out of brick, which was a sign of wealth at the time, as well as timber. The gatehouse was restored in 1983 by the Ipswich Building Preservation Trust who also uses it as their headquarters.

Christchurch Mansion. Picture: PAUL GEATER Christchurch Mansion. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Christchurch Mansion, Christchurch Park

This marvellous mansion from the Tudor era was originally called Withipoll House. It was believed to be built by Edmund Withypoll in 1548, after the death of his father Paul Withypoll, who was a master merchant trader and merchant adventurer before his death in 1547. Christchurch Mansion’s land was originally the Priory of the Holy Trinity, but was bought by Paul during Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries between 1536 and 1541.

Wolsey's Gate. Picture: SIMON PARKER Wolsey's Gate. Picture: SIMON PARKER

Wolsey’s Gate, 4 College Street

This worn and decorated gate located on Ipswich’s busy one-way system was built in 1528 by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, who had a keen interest in education and planned to create 12 schools across the country, with one in his hometown of Ipswich. Wolsey fell from power after being unable to secure approval for Henry VIII’s divorce of Catherine of Aragon, and passed away in 1530, putting all construction to a standstill.

St Mary le Tower is located in the heart of Ipswich, and is where King John's charter was delivered in June 1200. Picture: ARLEN JAMES St Mary le Tower is located in the heart of Ipswich, and is where King John's charter was delivered in June 1200. Picture: ARLEN JAMES

St Mary le Tower, Tower Street

This church located within the centre of Ipswich was believed to be built in the 13th century. It was definitely in use in June 1200, when King John’s Charter was delivered to the churchyard. By around 1450, a lot of the church needed rebuilding, and with the help of a will from William Gowty in 1448, the north and south nave aisles were built. The church we see today, was almost entirely rebuilt in the 1860s.

The Unitarian Meeting House. Picture: PHIL MORLEY The Unitarian Meeting House. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Unitarian Meeting House, St Nicholas Street and Friars Street

This largely original building is thought to be the only remaining purpose built timber-framed meeting house of its time. The building contract was agreed in 1699 and is believed to have been built between that year and 1670, with the official opening being held in April 1700. The building we see today is in need of immediate repair and maintenance due to its originality.

St Margaret's Church has parts dating back to the 13th century. Picture: ARLEN JAMES St Margaret's Church has parts dating back to the 13th century. Picture: ARLEN JAMES

St Margaret’s Church, Soane Street

This grade I listed building has records dating back to 1307, but the oldest part of the church dates back to the end of the 13th century. It was built by the priors of Holy Trinity Priory in order to house the population of Ipswich which was continuously growing, as they could no longer be housed in the nave of the Priory Church nearby.

Quay Place was originally named St Mary at the Quay until it was transformed into a wellbeing and heritage centre. Picture: ARLEN JAMES Quay Place was originally named St Mary at the Quay until it was transformed into a wellbeing and heritage centre. Picture: ARLEN JAMES

Quay Place, Key Street

This church was built near the beautiful Ipswich waterfront in the 15th century between 1448 and the 1450s. It was originally named St Mary at the Quay, but its new name Quay Place was given after it was given a new purpose. The mental health charity, Suffolk Mind, was awarded £3.6 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund to repair the church from its crumbling state, and transform it to a wellbeing and heritage centre that opened a year ago.


St Mary’s at the Elm Church, 29 Elm Street

St Mary's at the Elm Church. The Tam statue is located right next to it. Picture: ARLEN JAMES St Mary's at the Elm Church. The Tam statue is located right next to it. Picture: ARLEN JAMES

Located in the centre of Ipswich, there are parts of the grade II listed building that date back to the 11th century. The oldest part of the church is its Norman doorway, as well as its Nave which dates back to the 15th century, and its 16th century tower. In 1883, there was serious repairs to the Nave and Chancel.

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