Three swashbuckling heroes came to town

THEY were legends of their own lifetimes but didyou know that Lord Nelson, Prince Albert and General Kitchener all visited Ipswich? In Part Four of our Heroes of History series, JAMES MARSTON finds out what brought them here asks what legacy they left behind.

THEY were legends of their own lifetimes but didyou know that Lord Nelson, Prince Albert and General Kitchener all visited Ipswich? In Part Four of our Heroes of History series, JAMES MARSTON finds out what brought them here asks what legacy they left behind.

HORATIO Nelson, Prince Albert and Kitchener were all swashbuckling heroes of their day, who visited the town in the 1800s and early 1900s.

Nelson was a brilliant naval commander, Prince Albert a patron of science and the arts and founder of the Great Exhibition of 1851, the profits from which helped to establish the South Kensington museums complex in London, and General Kitchener a war hero of the Sudan and South African campaign.

Nelson, victor at Trafalgar, son of Norfolk and feted English hero had strong Ipswich links - but never stayed a night here.

His country home Roundwood House, was situated in what is today east Ipswich. Demolished in the late 1960s, little is left today of the house but in St John's Primary School, in Victory Road, there hangs a plaque which reads “The brickwork to which this panel is secured was taken from Roundwood House which occupied this site from 1700 AD until its demolition in 1967. It was owned by Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson from 1795 to 1800.”

Bought for £2,000, the house was never lived in by Nelson but his wife Lady Frances Nelson did take up residence.

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David Jones, keeper of human history at Ipswich Museum said: “In some ways Nelson's links to Ipswich are part of a sad story. Lord Nelson used Roundwood to out up his wife and his ageing father. He never stayed there with his wife, preferring the company of Emma, Lady Hamilton.

He said: “Lady Nelson was expected to take part in big social events in Ipswich every time her husband secured a great victory. But her husband was never there and everyone knew she had been dumped by him in favour of his mistress. She was in an awkward position.”

After the success of the Battle of the Nile in 1798, Nelson then a Rear Admiral, was made an honorary freeman of the town in his absence, and in 1800 Nelson was made High Sheriff of Ipswich.

After his victory, Nelson arrived back in England at Great Yarmouth. Letters between Nelson and his wife show he was expecting to stay at Roundwood while she was busy preparing accommodation for him in London.

But as he made his way from Yarmouth with Sir William and Lady Hamilton in tow he did pass through the town and visited Roundwood.

In 1801 Lord and Lady Nelson finally went their separate ways and the house was sold for £3,300.

Today Roundwood Road marks the western edge of the Roundwood estate.

At Ipswich Record Office in Gatacre Road there are documents relating to Lord Nelson and Roundwood House. Collections manager Bridget Hanley said: “On November 4, 1797, the Ipswich Journal - forerunner of The Evening Star and one of the first newspapers in the country - reported that 'The gallant Admiral Nelson purchased Roundwood House.'”

Though still owned by the church, the Poor Rate Book of 1796 to 1805 of St Margaret's parish is held by the record office.

Mrs Hanley said: “The poor rate was a tax levied on people to help pay for the provision for poor people in the parish. It was a kind of precursor to the welfare state. Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson is mentioned in the accounts of 1799 when he paid poor rate of £1 2s and 8p.”

It was later, in 1851, that Prince Albert visited the town.

In issues of the 1958-9 East Anglian Magazine, copies of which are held at Ipswich Record Office, there is an account of his visit.

It says: “In July 1851, the British Association met in Ipswich and Prince Albert, reluctantly forsaking his beloved child the Great Exhibition in London, came down to Ipswich for the occasion.

A contemporary account reads: “Thursday morning was ushered in, with bells ringing and other signs of holiday, such as flags, triumphal arches, and many houses gaily decorated with flowers and green boughs.”

On his arrival in Ipswich, Prince Albert went first to Shrubland Park, the seat of Sir W F Middleton, in an open carriage and escorted by a detachment of Horse Guards. The occasion was described as: “The streets were “filled with applauding crowds, and the whole scene very animated, the weather auspicious, and the arrangements (as they were in every respect) excellently made by the Ipswich committee.”

Albert's visit included a number of events and ceremonies. He laid the foundation stone for Ipswich School, visited Christchurch Mansion and Ipswich Museum and opened the Wet Dock.

Lord Kitchener of Khartoum's association with the town is still evident in some of the town's road names today, including Kitchener Road, Sirdale Road and Khartoum Road.

His visits in 1902 and 1911 were high profile events in the town.

Mrs Hanley said: “We have a number of documents relating to Lord Kitchener. There is a programme for a memorial service for him held at St Mary-le-Tower on June 13 1916, a number of pictures of his visit. My favourite artefact is an admission ticket to the public presentation to Kitchener of the honorary freedom of the borough. It is the sort of thing that would often be thrown away. It happened on September 22 1902 at 12.45pm and doors opened at midday.”

In the Suffolk County Handbook 1917, held at Ipswich Record Office, there is an obituary of Lord Kitchener which explains his links to the town.

“Earl Kitchener was an honorary freeman of Ipswich, the distinction being conferred in September, 1902. When he visited Ipswich on the 22nd, he was presented with a loving cup, to match one which had been given him by the City of London.

“He presented medals to Suffolk men who had served in the South African campaign, accepted a Past Master's jewel of solid gold from the Freemasons, and rode by motor-car - one of the earliest seen in the district - to Aspal Hall. “After accepting the High Stewardship, Earl Kitchener paid a second visit to the borough, inspecting the Boy Scouts and attending the Suffolk Show in Christchurch Park.”

Who is your hero of history? Do you have any artefacts relating to these visits? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail


Tomorrow: Wallis Simpson, Douglas Bader and Charles Dickens bring variety to town.

ON October 21, 1805, the greatest naval battle the world had ever known was fought off Cape Trafalgar.

When the news of Nelson's victory against the French and Spanish fleets reached these shores, there was nationwide rejoicing.

When it was known that Admiral Lord Nelson had been mortally wounded, the mood quickly changed to one of national sorrow.

To citizens of Ipswich the death of the national hero seemed a matter of personal bereavement. Nelson was an East Anglian - probably the greatest of all East Anglians and he had been High Steward of the Borough of Ipswich for five years.

Nelson had left England to take command of the Vanguard in March, 1798, and two months later Lady Nelson wrote to him: “On Sunday, the 20th May, we arrived at Roundwood. The satisfaction I felt was very great at being under your own roof. No thanks to any earthly being. Our father (the Reverend Edmund Nelson) was for staying, although the house had little or no accommodation. He viewed everything attentively, and I never saw him so thoroughly satisfied as he was, and says the more he examines everything the better he is pleased. The house is quite large enough.”

In June Mr. Nelson wrote to Mrs Matcham (the Admirals' sister, Catherine): “My dear, on Sunday, lady N., my self, Kitty Bolton (another sister - Susanna) and the two servants came to Roundwood and took possession of a neat, strong, well-built and convenient house, consisting of two parlours, a small handsome vestibule and staircase, six bedrooms and two dressing-rooms, with offices of every denomination and good cellars.

“The little pleasure ground and small garden are laid out in good taste and all looks like a Gentleman's House. Seems to answer every wish of yr. Bro. And his wife. The Farm is 50 acres of Good Land adjoining, divided into several small enclosures and lett to a very substantial civil Tenant.”

And a few days later: “Lady N. is well pleased with everything at Ipswich, has been at two Balls (to take Mrs Bolton) and I hope the situation will be very comfortable.”

Source: East Anglian Magazine 1946-47

Lord Kitchener was traveling to Russia when HMS Hampshire struck a mine laid by a German U-boat and sank west of the Orkney Islands, on June 5, 1916.

Kitchener, his staff, and 643 of the crew of 655 were drowned or died of exposure. His body was never found.

Brought up in Germany, Albert was well educated. He studied natural science, political economy, and philosophy at the University of Bonn.

Married Queen Victoria on February 10, 1840.

On June 25 1857, Queen Victoria formally granted him the title Prince Consort.

Albert and Victoria had nine children.

Died in 1861 from typhoid fever. Victoria was grief stricken.

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