Ipswich should be ready to celebrate its greatest son in 2023

The Cardinal Thomas Wolsey statue in St Nicholas Street

Cardinal Thomas Wolsey was born in St Nicholas Street where his statue was unveiled in 2011. - Credit: Gregg Brown

A series of events to mark the 550th anniversary of the birth of Ipswich's greatest son, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, is to be planned for 2023 if Ipswich Central is given a new five-year term by the town's business community.

Wolsey is believed to have been born in March 1473, although exact details of his earliest years are sketchy. What is known is that he was born and brought up in his father's butcher's shop in St Nicholas Street.

He went on to become Cardinal, Archbishop of York, Lord High Chancellor, and the most powerful man in England after Henry VIII during the early years of that king's reign.

In 2011 a statue of Wolsey was unveiled in St Nicholas Street, but Ipswich Central board member Terry Hunt said it was now time for the town to acknowledge his role in English history.

Mr Hunt said: "His actual birthday is slightly unclear, but the most likely date seems to be March 1473 so we think that should be celebrated in 2023 - and at the moment it is a bit of a blank canvass how we do that.

"We hope to involve businesses, schools and tourist organisations to celebrate someone who is undoubtedly the most famous and important person to come out of Ipswich. And wouldn't it be good to see work to restore Wolsey's Gate to mark the anniversary?

Wolsey's Gate in Ipswich

Could Wolsey's Gate be restored for his 550th anniversary? - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

"Ipswich has a great history and we want to use this anniversary as way of showing that off with trails around the old streets and to make a really big thing of what has good claim to be the oldest English town."

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If it wins another term, Ipswich Central will be asking its members, schools and local people for their ideas to celebrate Wolsey - and has already heard from several schools who want to do projects linked to the anniversary.

Ipswich Central also wants to prepare the town to be ready later in its term to produce a potentially winning bid to be the UK City of Culture in 2029.

That would harness all the cultural organisations that are based in Ipswich is a bid to really put the town on the map as a major tourist attraction.