New look at town's buildings

FOR those who take the trouble to look at their surroundings in Ipswich it is a voyage of discovery.In fact, the most common response from people who take the time to go on a blue badge guide around the town is, "I have never noticed that before.

FOR those who take the trouble to look at their surroundings in Ipswich it is a voyage of discovery.

In fact, the most common response from people who take the time to go on a blue badge guide around the town is, "I have never noticed that before."

And so, in a special walk to raise money for the Mayor of Ipswich's chosen charities, around 30 people were shown around the town under the knowledgeable guidance of the blue badge guides.

Mayor of Ipswich Penny Breakwell, who was only too pleased to take part in the walk, said: "It is all in aid of Ipswich Children's Hospice, Amnesty International and the Ipswich Wildlife Group.

"It is just so nice that the blue badge guides came up with this idea."

First stop on the walk was the old Post Office building on Cornhill – now a branch of Lloyds TSB.

Most Read

Many of us pass this building everyday, but take a glance upwards and you will see four women representing all that was thought to be modern in the 1880s – Industry, Electricity, Steam and Commerce.

Perhaps the Victorians had a cheeky sense of humour too, because Industry is sitting on a beehive and Steam on a boiler.

On a much more subtle scale, the Unitarian Meeting House - built for a grand total of £257 about 300 years ago - lies tucked away on St Nicholas Street.

Plain from the outside – for the Presbyterians did not approve of religious imagery – the inside gives a unique insight into religious life at the time.

The downstairs was divided into fully enclosed family pews – only available for a regular payment – while the plebs were confined to the free seating upstairs.

The walk then jumped 300 years to the Willis building opposite – built for staggering £600 million.

While many know there is a lawn on the roof, how many know that its irregular shape was to ensure that the building filled the site allocated exactly?

People on the walk then meandered up past the Giles statue – which is actually hollow fibreglass coated with brass – onto one of Ipswich's most famous buildings, the Ancient House.

But the most ancient part of this building is actually the inside, which dates from about 1400, while much of the outside décor only dates to around 1600.

One of the other highlights was a trip to St Mary-le-Tower Church, where the blue badge guides informed the walkers that the four huge figures leaning out from the tower are not, as some might think, gargoyles, but actually winged creatures representing the evangelists.

The winged lion represents Mark, the winged bull represents John, the eagle represents Luke and the winged man, Matthew.

Such eye-opening walks take place every Tuesday and Thursday at 2.15pm until the end of September. Special themed walks also take place periodically. All guided walks cost £2.50 and £2 for concessions.

Information is available by calling 01473 258070 or from Ipswich Tourist Information Centre in St Stephen's Lane.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter