Tuesday, 30 December 2014

The Day We Wended Our Way To Ipswich

Yesterday, a large gaggle of Ragged Ramblers travelled to Ipswich by train. Curiously, it was our first ever RSAR excursion by train and we were excited. Maps of our destination were distributed and pawed over with anticipation and soon the conversation turned to the subject of Jonny's slippers. Poor Jonny, he is a worrier at the best of times. However, having received two new pairs of slippers for Christmas, he found himself in a most perplexed funk as this disrupted his hitherto smoothly operating spatial-slipper zoning systems (outdoor slippers, indoor... blah di blah). Aunty Gary offered the interesting suggestion that Jonny create a Five Slipper Comedy Spanking Wheel. Jonny looked interested. Another suggestion was for him to create a small chapel - a Slipper Chapel presumably! - where the domesticated footwear could be venerated. A more practical suggestion, perhaps, was for him to designate one of the new pairs as Sexy Slippers. That way, when he 'has that look in his eye' he can signal to his partner via the wearing of the slippers that he is feeling saucy. Lots for Jonny to ponder here, and we wish him well as he cogitates. 

Arriving at the train station we perambulated and crossed the bridge over the River Orwell, before walking towards the 'newly developed' dock area of the town via the riverside walk. 

Following a pleasant walk along the narrow path we arrived at the docks where we met up with a trio of Suffolk-based fellows, Rob, Gus and Keith, who had very kindly agreed to accompany us on our exploration. 

"Like bleached skeletons..."

Looking around at the new riverside development it appeared rather incongruous. You see, the bankers' credit crunch resulted in the dock development being left incomplete, resulting in the 'bones' of the buildings being left like bleached skeletons picked clean by vultures (ho hum!). However, looking out at the Wet Dock, I was pleasantly surprised at how picturesque it was.

A quick cuppa ensued followed by a fascinating guided walk by Keith, introducing us to the archaeology of the original town. As we paused next to Stoke Bridge, Keith explained that Ipswich, or 'Gipeswic' as it was originally known, developed along the banks of the river during the sixth century as a centre for North Sea trade, and was equivalent at the time to London, York and Southampton. Near where we stood, the river would have been much wider with marshy banks requiring a bridge around one hundred metres in length. 

Time passed: we had lunch together in a pub and discussed the political affiliations of various kind of biscuit (Lemon Puff = Lib Dem; Ginger Nut = Old Labour; Bourbon = Working class Tory etc). Having feasted and warmed up, we wandered together in search of historic delectations. 

Old fossils

Cloisters of the Dominican Friary
Quaker Meeting House - the oldest surviving timber-framed
chapel in East Anglia
The only Norman doorway in Ipswich at
St Mary at the Elms

Exquisite carved foliage and birds on font
cover at St Mary at the Elms
Wonderful pargetting at the Ancient House

Part of a large scheme of late 16th/early 17th century
wall painting within the Ancient House

Small graffito in window of Ancient House

Despite some gobsmackingly poor urban planning, Ipswich was revealed to us as a town of many treasures. I will certainly be returning. The Ragged Society of Antiquarian Ramblers would like to thank Rob, Gus and Keith for sharing their knowledge and company for the day. You are, all three, honorary Ragged Ramblers now!


~ Munro Tweeder-Harris Esq. ~


  1. Interesting juxtaposition of the old and the old, the decayed and the decayed.