Everything you need to know about Ipswich in the USA and Oz
PUBLISHED: 19:30 14 September 2020 | UPDATED: 11:27 15 September 2020
Did you know there are towns called Ipswich in the States and Down Under? What are they like?
With Suffolk’s long and illustrious history stretching all the way back to the Anglo-Saxon period, it’s no surprise that some of the county’s villages and towns have gone on to inspire placenames all around the world. Here’s a few interesting facts to help you get to know Ipswich’s younger, distant cousins better – Ipswich, USA and Ipswich, Australia.
Just 5,294.36 km across the pond sits the US state of Massachusetts. Head towards its east coast and there you will find the town of Ipswich. With an estimated current population of over 14,000 according to the US Census, this quaint coastal town is located in Essex County of all places, and is just under an hour away from state capital Boston (which is located in Suffolk County).
Founded in 1634 by John Winthrop the Younger, his father John Winthrop was one of the founders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, which set sail from England in April 1630. Both father and son were born in Suffolk, in Edwardstone and Groton respectively – so it is unsurprising that nearby Ipswich went on to become the namesake for this Massachusetts town.
According to an excerpt from John Winthrop’s journal, History of New England, the name Ipswich was adapted “in acknowledgment of the great honour and kindness done to our people which took shipping there.” Prior to its colonisation, the land was inhabited by Indigenous tribes who called the area Agawam.
Ipswich, MA’s official historical website proudly declares that the town is nicknamed ‘America’s Best-Preserved Puritan Town’ - and it’s not hard to see why. A number of beautifully historic homes and buildings remain throughout, including various First Period houses, which are dated between 1625 and 1725. This is however relatively young compared to some of the buildings that still stand in Ipswich, UK today – simply take a trip to the Buttermarket and there you will see Ancient House, which goes all the way back to the 15th century. With many towns in New England keen to hold onto its pre-American Revolution roots, it’s clear how picturesque and charming this Ipswich also is.
Both Ipswich, Suffolk and Ipswich, MA are handily located next to rivers, which has helped the two towns set up a number of flourishing industries over time. Suffolk’s Ipswich, which has continually been occupied since Saxon times, has its earliest roots in industries such as shipping, pottery and textiles. Its current waterfront, which historically was an important industrial port, has since become a cultural hub within the town and now features a number of bars, cafes, restaurants and apartments.
Over in Massachusetts, some of Ipswich’s earliest residents were traders, shipbuilders, fishermen and farmers. In 1822, English smugglers managed to bring over a stocking machine to the Massachusetts town, introducing to it a subsequently successful textile industry. Just 46 years later, abolitionist Amos A. Lawrence set up Ipswich Hoisery Mills in the old stone mill atop Ipswich River – and by the turn of the century, the town was home to the largest stocking mill in the United States.
In terms of infrastructure, while Ipswich, UK proudly boasts the architectural wonder that is the Orwell Bridge, Massachusetts’ Ipswich is home to the Choate Bridge, one of the oldest surviving bridges in North America. Built in 1764, this 22-metre stone arch bridge spans across the town’s eponymous river, and has since been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Compare that with our very own Orwell Bridge - which has a total length of 1,287 metres - it would take 58 and a half Choate Bridges to match it.
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Another thing that both towns share is a longstanding love for beer. Any drinks historian will be quick to tell you that England’s Ipswich was home to one of Victorian Britain’s most successful breweries back in the day – Tolly Cobbold, which was based at the Cliff Brewery in the industrial dock area. Fast forward to present day, and Ipswich’s beer scene is still vibrant, with a number of brewers calling the county town home, including Briarbank Brewery, St Jude’s and Cliff Quay Brewery – the former of which had its beginnings in the former Tolly Cobbold Brewery. Across the pond, Ipswich, MA similarly lays claim to a selection of breweries throughout its town, including Ipswich Ale Brewery and True North Ale Company - the former which happens to be one of New England’s oldest craft breweries.
200 years following on from the settling of Ipswich, MA saw the founding of another Ipswich – this time, all the way in Australia. Located 16,425.23 km away from Suffolk, this Queensland urban region first began as a limestone mining settlement in 1827, and actually had humble beginnings under a different name – The Limestone Hills, later shortened to Limestone.
16 years later however, Limestone underwent a renaming – and became Ipswich. According to its website, official Queensland records show that the name Ipswich was approved by Sir George Gipps, a soldier and Governor of New South Wales.
While England’s Ipswich is the county town of Suffolk, in 1847, Ipswich, Australia very narrowly missed out on becoming the capital for the state of Queensland. Australian republican John Dunmore Lang toured both Ipswich and Brisbane – noting how the former had a port which would prove useful. Unfortunately for Ipswich though, Brisbane was chosen instead due to its colonial interests. Fast forward to present day however, and this thriving hub has a population of 200,000 – and is projected to grow to 435,000 by 2031.
Besides a name, the two Ipswiches happen to share a number of striking similarities. For starters, both towns are popular filming locations that have been featured in an array of films and television shows. Here in Ipswich, classic shows such as Downton Abbey and Only Fools and Horses have put this Suffolk town on the small screen, while films such as The Fourth Protocol (1987), The Angry Silence (1960) and Yesterday’s Hero (1979) have all had scenes shot round these parts. Australia’s Ipswich has similarly lent its locations to a number of Hollywood films including The Railway Man (2013), San Andreas (2015) and Inspector Gadget 2 (2003).
In terms of the arts, Ipswich, UK and Ipswich, Australia are both associated with famous painters. While our Ipswich was once the home of 18th century portrait and landscape artist Thomas Gainsborough, Ipswich down under lays claim to d’Arcy Doyle – a 20th century painter known for his colourful and nostalgic paintings. Born in the town in 1932, Doyle had no formal artistic education or training, and learnt most of his skills by drawing what he saw around him. Much of Doyle’s work focuses on life in post-war Brisbane and Ipswich, with his family home of 39 Darling Street appearing in a number of his paintings. So iconic, Doyle’s work later went on to feature on calendars and biscuit tins throughout Australia.
In addition, a handful of prolific sports stars happen to hail from both Ipswiches – with many bagging themselves medals while competing in the Olympic Games, or going on to play at the top of their sporting leagues. Here in Ipswich, UK, some of its best and brightest athletes include swimmer Karen Pickering, who moved to the town at the age of 17 and went on to win over 30 medals during her impressive 20-year career, and footballing legend Kieron Dyer, who’s played for Newcastle United, West Ham United, Queens Park Rangers and, of course, our very own Ipswich Town.
Down under, Ipswich, Australia is chock full of talented sportspeople, including gold medal-winning Paralympian cyclist Greg Ball, who has won an impressive 10 gold medals throughout his career, and professional tennis player Ashleigh Barty. Barty, who is a former cricketer, is ranked number one in the world in singles by the Women’s Tennis Association and is a top 20 player in doubles.
Finally, the two settlements boast their fair share of stunning outdoor spaces. Queensland’s Ipswich is well-known for its vast range of beautiful parks and reserves – with over 500 to its name. Nerima Gardens - which was designed with the help of its Japanese sister city Nerima – is especially famed for its ornamental lake and traditional Japanese-style landscape throughout. Anyone living in Ipswich, UK will know this county town is proudly home to Christchurch Park - 82 acres of pristine rolling lawns, wooded areas and lush gardens.
Have you been to Ipswich in Massachusetts or the one in Queensland? Or have you been to another city that’s named after somewhere in Suffolk? Get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org
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