Solving the mystery of The Grasshopper

SOME buildings have names that sound like a place to buy a pint and a pie.

David Kindred

SOME buildings have names that sound like a place to buy a pint and a pie.

The Kings Head, The Red Lion or The Coach and Horses are traditional names for public houses but in recent decades we have seen less traditional names like the Grinning Rat, The Toad and Raspberry and the Drum and Monkey.

If I saw a sign on a building labelling it as The Grasshopper I would think it might be a public house and Tony Green, of Levington Road, Ipswich, has asked if I can solve a mystery on this matter.

He said: “I wonder if you are able to shed any light on a pub believed to be called The Grasshopper? Camra's Suffolk Real Ale Guide (www.suffolkcamra.co.uk/pubs/) has been given a very old card for our historical research, which apparently shows this pub. Nobody we know has heard of this pub or recognises the building and we have never seen any record of a pub called The Grasshopper in Ipswich or anywhere else in Suffolk, despite having identified 437 past and present pubs in the town and 2,400 across the county.

“The pub appears to be surrounded by large buildings, suggesting it may have stood in an old industrial area, but perusal of old maps has failed to identify any likely location. I would be very grateful for any information about this or indeed any other historical Suffolk pub.”

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This photograph was used by Ipswich photographer William Vick in his series of photographs of Ipswich “Past and Present” published in 1890. The Grasshopper sounds like the name of a pub, but it never was. The building stood where Barclays Bank is now in Princes Street. The photograph is undated so the building on the extreme left was either the former Corn Exchange, which became the site of the Post Office, opening in 1881.

That part of the building is now a book and gift shop, The Wharf. The entrance to The Thoroughfare is between the buildings.

William Vick's caption explains why the building had a name and sign: “In 1580 it was ordered at a Great Court Assembly of the Bailiffs, Portmen and Burgesses of this borough, that 'Shopkeepers shall hang out signs at their shops, and other inhabitants may do the like'. The building was a grocers shop for many years prior to 1865.”

I hope this helps clear up the mystery of the pub that never was.