Ipswich Landmarks and Monuments
(Ipswich, Suffolk, England, UK)
Many tourists staying in Ipswich are surprised to learn of the sheer quantity of listed buildings and landmarks within the town. The aptly named Ancient House is one of the most accessible and lies within the Buttermarket area, where it is known for its ornate appearance.
The waterfront Old Custom House is another much-loved local landmark in Ipswich, as is St. Margaret's Church on Bolton Lane. Rather more contemporary is the Willis Building on Friars Street, which in 1991, became the youngest Grade I-listed building in the United Kingdom.
Old Custom House
Address: Common Quay, Key Street, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP4 1BZ, England, UK
Tel: +44 01473 231010
Overlooking the Wet Dock and built in the middle of the 19th century, the now Grade II-listed Old Custom House is especially impressive when viewed from the dockside, remaining a definite focal point of this ever-transforming waterfront. With classical architecture, a portico with four stone columns and a traditional cream and red-brick design, the Old Custom House is perhaps best known for prominently displaying the Ipswich Coat of Arms, which proudly stands above the entrance. The ground floor is currently used as a popular conference centre.
Open hours: daily
St. Margaret's Church
Address: Bolton Lane, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP4 2BT, England, UK
Tel: +44 01473 715891
There are a total of 12 medieval churches standing in the town of Ipswich, although several are particularly impressive and do tend to draw the eye. St. Margaret's Church lies alongside Christchurch Park and is a very fine landmark indeed, with exquisite attention to detail and beautiful stained-glass windows. Now Grade I listed and dating as far back as the latter part of the 13th century, St. Margaret's was extended in the mid-15th century, strengthened and updated with Victorian features in the 19th century, and has been recently renovated, including much restoration work on the roof panels. Other prominent medieval churches in the town include both St. Lawrence's and St. Mary le Tower.
Open hours: daily
Unitarian Meeting House
Address: Friars Street, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP1 1TD, England, UK
Standing alongside the considerably more youthful Willis Building, the Grade I-listed Unitarian Meeting House was completed at the end of the 17th century and is widely regarded as ranking amongst England's most important Dissenting Meeting Houses, being once described as such by renowned Robinson Crusoe author Daniel Defoe (1659 to 1731). The interior of the Unitarian Meeting House remains very much as it appeared 300 years ago and contains box pews, a grand chandelier, pegs for wigs, and even a secret hole for spying.
Open hours: May to September, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday - 12:00 to 16:00, Sunday services at 10:45
Address: 40 Buttermarket, Ipswich, Suffolk, England, UK
Tel: +44 01473 214144
A distinctive Grade 1-listed landmark and also known locally as Sparrowe's House, the Ancient House dominates the Buttermarket area and dates from the 15th century. In the late seventies, the Ancient House was in an extremely poor state of repair and close to collapse. At this stage it was purchased and renovated by Ipswich Borough Council and returned to its former glory using modern building techniques and materials. The Ancient House boasts highly detailed exterior plaster work (pargeting) and ornamental wood carvings, and is currently called home by several shops, such as Lakeland kitchenware and a small town art gallery (Artslant).
Open hours: Monday to Saturday - 09:00 to 17:30
Address: Friars Street, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP1 1LS, England, UK
Originally named the Willis Faber and Dumas Headquarters and now known simply as the Willis Building, this important Ipswich landmark was built in the early part of the seventies by acclaimed British architect Norman Foster. The Willis Building has become famous for its simplistic 'high-tech' appearance and modern architecture. Currently used as office space for some 1,300 workers, the building features three floors, a rooftop restaurant for staff and panoramic views, although is sadly not open to the general public.
Open hours: view from the outside only
Address: Wherstead, Suffolk, England, UK
Orwell Bridge is one of the most famous examples of modern-day construction in Suffolk and spans the River Orwell, connecting Wherstead with both Nacton Road and Felixstowe Road, on the south-easterly side of Ipswich. Carrying the A14 and measuring just under 1,300 metres / 4,265 feet in length, Orwell Bridge was built using pre-stressed concrete and at the angle to the river, for purely aesthetic reasons. Each day, in excess of 60,000 vehicles use this bridge to shorten their journey. Of note, the popular 1987 spy movie 'The Fourth Protocol' features an exciting action scene where two helicopters actually fly beneath the Orwell Bridge.
Open hours: daily