7 of Suffolk’s most famous statues – and where to find them
- Credit: Gregg Brown
One of the best things about summer is being able to go out and explore some of Suffolk’s fascinating hamlets, towns and villages.
Every settlement certainly has a story to tell – and some of these stories have been immortalised by way of statue.
Here’s just seven of Suffolk’s most interesting statues that you can cast your eyes upon while you’re out and about.
Cardinal Wolsey statue, Ipswich
Kicking this list off is the iconic Cardinal Wolsey statue located in Ipswich town centre. The bronze statue, which was unveiled in 2011, is situated near where the English statesman and Catholic bishop is thought to have resided.
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The piece – which was created by Scottish sculptor David Annand – depicts Wolsey sat down with a book in one hand, and his trusty cat by his left-hand side. The base of the statue is also inscribed with the following: “Cardinal, archbishop, Lord Chancellor and teacher who believed that pleasure should mingle with study so that the child may think learning an amusement rather than a toil.”
Cardinal Wolsey was famously born in the town in 1473, and went on to become one of the most powerful men in the government during the reign of King Henry VIII. First appointed as a royal almoner, the king eventually gave Wolsey more power over state affairs before he was arrested and accused of treason in 1530. He later died that same year – but his legacy throughout Ipswich can still be seen to this day. Alongside the statue, there is a pub in the town named after him as well as a street.
St Edmund statue, Bury St Edmunds
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No town is complete without a statue honouring its namesake, and there’s where the statue of St Edmunds comes in.
Located in the Great Churchyard just near St Edmundsbury Cathedral, this bronze cast piece was created by Suffolk sculptor and artist Dame Elisabeth Frink in 1974 to mark the end of St Edmund as an independent administrative area.
This depiction of St Edmund shows him brandishing a cross and wearing a crown. St Edmund was the Saxon king of East Anglia – and was thought to have taken to the throne in 855 at the tender age of 14, and reigned until his death in 869 when he was slain in battle against the Danes. Edmund, also known as Edmund the Martyr, was the first patron saint of England – an honour that is often incorrectly attributed to the current patron saint, St George.
The Giles Statue, Giles Circus, Ipswich
Where Queen Street and Princes Street meet in Ipswich is where you will find Giles Circus, home to the Giles statue.
Also known as the Grandma statue, the bronze Giles statue proudly depicts one of cartooonist Carl Giles’ most popular characters. Giles, who spent most of his life in the area, was best known for his comic strips and illustrations that were regularly published in the Daily Express and Sunday Express. One of his most-popular was The Giles Family, of which Grandma was a fan favourite.
The statue was unveiled in 1993, just two years before the cartoonist passed away, and also features other characters from the Giles family – twins Lawrence and Ralph, alongside Rush the dog. Grandma Giles and co are situated on a stone plinth and face towards the former office where Giles would work on his cartoon strips.
The Newmarket Stallion statue, Newmarket
Dubbed by many as the birthplace of modern-day horseracing, it’s unsurprising that you can find a majestic horse statue in the town of Newmarket.
The Newmarket Stallion was unveiled on October 14 2000 by Simon Gibson, and is located on the Stetchworth Toll Roundabout near the July Racecourse.
The 15-foot statue is a joint collaboration between sculptors Marica Astor and Allen Sly, and depicts a male horse on his hind legs with his handler – modelled by stalwart Gillon Aitken.
The Sir Alf Ramsey and Sir Bobby Robson statues, Ipswich
Portman Road is where you will find towering tributes to two of the town’s biggest footballing legends - Sir Alf Ramsey and Sir Bobby Robson.
The seven-foot bronze statue of Sir Alf is located at the corner of the town’s football stadium on the aptly-named Sir Alf Ramsey Way, and was created by nationally-acclaimed sculptor Sean Hedges-Quinn. It had its grand unveiling in 2000 by former striker Ray Crawford, who played for the team between 1958–1963 and 1966–1969.
Sir Alf is best known for his tenure as Ipswich Town manager between 1955 and 1963, and as England manager between 1963 and 1974 – which saw him guide the national team to victory at the 1966 World Cup final.
Also located on Portman Road is a bronze statue paying homage to Sir Bobby Robson. Once again designed by Sean Hedges-Quinn, this commemorative sculpture was unveiled in 2002 and depicts the footballing great pointing in the general direction of the stand.
Former player and manager Sir Bobby Robson was best-known round here for managing Ipswich Town during its victorious win at the 1981 UEFA Cup final.
Looking to join the pair is the late Town legend Kevin Beattie, a former centre-half who spent most of his career at the club. While the pandemic has so far delayed the unveiling of his commemorative statue, a number of limited edition smaller-scale replicas are available to purchase from the club itself.
The Thomas Gainsborough statue, Sudbury
One of our county’s greatest artists, visitors to Sudbury can cast their eyes upon a statue dedicated to landscape and portrait artist Thomas Gainsborough. Located on Market Hill, the bronze piece was created by Australian sculptor Sir Bertram Mackennal.
It was first unveiled in 1913 by Princess Louise, daughter of Queen Victoria – but was later treated to a second unveiling a century later to commemorate its 100-year-anniversary.
Gainsborough, who is best known for his works such as ‘Mr and Mrs Andrews’, and ‘The Blue Boy’, was born in the town in 1727. Throughout his career, he was a firm favourite of King George III and Queen Charlotte.
What’s your favourite local statue? Did it make the list? Or is there someone you think should be commemorated with a statue here in Suffolk? Get in touch and email firstname.lastname@example.org to share your thoughts and opinions.