Is it time to resurrect Ipswich’s long lost castle?

Could Ipswich Castle rival Stansted Mountfitchet?

Could Ipswich Castle rival Stansted Mountfitchet? - Credit: Archant

It survived for less than 70 years during one of the most turbulent periods of England’s history, but now there has been a call for Ipswich to get its castle back – for a few years at least!

Ipswich Society chairman John Norman has suggested that a wooden castle could be built as a tourist attraction on the site of the former Civic Centre – an area that was almost certainly home to the original castle.

The site is currently vacant although it is being used as a temporary car park – and while it is expected to eventually be re-developed, that is unlikely to happen for several years.

Mr Norman said: “In the meantime it would be good to have some kind of attraction there linked to Ipswich’s heritage – something like the wooden castle at Stansted Mountfitchet in Essex. It would be basically a glorified play area for children, but with some educational element telling people about the history of the area.”

The castle was built by Roger Bigod in about 1107. He also built a number of other castles in the region, including Framlingham and Bungay.

It was a wooden castle, and had some strategic importance during “The Anarchy” in the middle of the 12th century when King Stephen and his cousin Matilda fought for the throne of England.

After Stephen was succeeded by his nephew King Henry II in 1153 he moved to limit the Bigod family’s power, and in 1176 ordered the destruction of Ipswich Castle – which was never rebuilt.

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Mr Norman said the exact site of the castle has never been confirmed – although it certainly was not the Castle Hill area of the town.

All the evidence suggests that it was probably on the site of what eventually became the Civic Centre – which was itself demolished five years ago.

And Mr Norman points out there is a precedent for a rebuilt castle: “The original Framlingham Castle was pulled down at the same time as Ipswich. It’s just that they got around to rebuilding it rather sooner!”