Model of 15th century Ipswich could take off after big response
- Credit: Colin Patten
Suffolk modelmaker Colin Patten caused quite a stir when he posted in the Facebook group Ipswich Remembers proposing a model of the town at its Tudor height.
The post got more than 750 likes and 200 almost entirely supportive comments.
Mr Patten, who has constructed a similar model for the city of Waterford in Ireland, said: "The idea is to not just produce an architectural model, because that's essentially drive by, people wouldn't engage with it.
"Instead, it would be dedicated to the working people of Ipswich. So like In my models in Ireland, I want to put lots and lots of detail of people doing things and animals wandering about."
"You would have a reenactor with a deep knowledge of local history who uses the model as a theatre, or perhaps an audio guide with good voices.
"We'd be aiming it at children who aren't of an academic bent, but they would absorb an enormous amount of information, and come away with knowledge about the architecture, the types of animals and crops in use and more generally what people did."
Mr Patten plans to construct the model to a scale where a person would be about 6mm tall, saying "they're very very small, but your eye will still be drawn into seeing what they're up to."
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The model itself is likely to be about 2.6x2.2 meters, and will show all the important features of the late medieval town, including the docks, walls and monasteries.
Mr Patten said "We're trying to identify Ipswich at the peak of its prowess —I think this is just prior to the Reformation, so you still have the monasteries intact."
Mr Patten grew up in Ipswich, attending Copleston High School. He said: "It was only up until 15 years ago I was permanently resident in Ipswich. Ipswich is my town, always has been."
Speaking about his past, he said: "I was a bit of a gamer geek when I was younger, and started to design my own historical miniatures, and that kinda took off.
"This naturally evolved into doing historical buildings to go with them, and when I was in Ireland I was fortunate enough to be part of the heritage regeneration project in Waterford.
"The town was looking rough and ready after the recession, in a similar state to Ipswich was actually, but the strategy was to identify all of the important heritage areas within the town centre, polish them up to get some visitor interest value, then knit them together on a walk with a map and offer reduced priced tickets to visit all of them.
"The idea being, if they could hold visitors in the city for long enough, there would be an economic benefit.
"I got the opportunity to build five museum models showing the history of Waterford from its Viking inception to the town's Georgian height."
Mr Patten is clear in his plans for constructing the model town. He said: "The first thing I would do is identify the key buildings— not necessarily civic or municipal buildings, they could be a domestic building with a resident who is key to the story of Ipswich.
"Then I identify the common buildings and put them in the right places — then you can populate it.
"Now in the internet age it's quite easy to identify this stuff, but I do also have a book of old maps of Ipswich I found."
Speaking about the potential benefits of the project, he said: "Ipswich, being the oldest town in England, could very well lay the claim to being, like York or Jorvik is to the Vikings, the Saxon centre of England.
"We'd have to have a Saxon model of Ipswich, it would be a simpler model, but it would be showing the birth of England.
"It could be start of a heritage Saxon trail, including West Stow, Sutton Hoo, and the recently found site in Rendlesham forest.
"We have got this rich treasure under our feet, and it would be nice if it was enjoyed by the town."