Breakfast at Isaacs on the Quay
Start off your Heritage Weekend in Ipswich by enjoying breakfast and a coffee here, whilst looking out over the picturesque waterfront. Found in a group of buildings, parts of which date back to the early 1400s, Isaacs is the best example of a merchants’ house, warehousing and sales room (auction house) in the country. Ipswich was once on of the most prosperous trading towns in England, with corn, wool and coal being traded from the building the bar and restaurant now sits in. The building continued to trade coal and corn until as late as the 1980s. Many original features remain throughout the building, and lots of the equipment used during the building’s past are still on display.
10:30am - The Old Customs House
Once you have finished your breakfast at Isaacs, wander down to this magnificent building. Whilst only the ground floor will be open, there will be an exhibition reflecting aspects of Ipswich’s maritime heritage. Built in 1844/45, the Old Customs House is home to the offices of Associated British Ports. The waterfront has gone through some dramatic changes in the last twenty years, however this building still stands proud as a reminder of the historic significance of Ipswich waterfront. The style of the building is particularly impressive, with four columned porticos bearing the Ipswich Coat-of-Arms of lion rampant and the stern of three ships supported by seahorses.
11:30am - St Peters by the Waterfront and the Ipswich Charter Hangings
On your way to the Saints area of Ipswich for lunch, why not stop into St Peters Church. St Peter's by the Waterfront has displays about the history of the church from the 12th Century to the present day. St Peter's is also home to the Ipswich Charter Hangings created to commemorate the 800-year anniversary of the granting of the Royal Charter to Ipswich and the beginning of the new Millennium; they depict Ipswich through the ages from the pre-Viking period through to the 20th Century.
St Peter's is also home to a rare Tournai Marble Font, one of only a handful in the country; a magnificent East Window and has many Medieval, Tudor and Victorian architectural features.
12:30pm - Valentino’s (Opposite the Thomas Wolsey Statue)
For lunch, enjoy a sandwich and a soft drink at Valentino’s. The cafe is located opposite to where Ipswich’s most famous son, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, lived in his childhood. Outside the cafe is a life-sized bronze statue of the Cardinal shown seated facing southwards towards St Peter’s Church teaching from a book with a cat at his side. The statue was erected by sculptor David Annand, and was unveiled in 2011.
2pm - Pykenham’s Gatehouse
Before you embark on the next part of your heritage tour of Ipswich, take half an hour to visit Pykenham’s Gatehouse. As part of heritage weekend the house is being opened, offering a are opportunity to visit one of the earliest domestic buildings in Ipswich. Pykenham’s Gatehouse has witnessed more than 500 years of Ipswich history. It has seen the comings and goings of some 20 generations of Ipswich people - at first through the north gate and along the street with the brook, and more recently past the imposing library built opposite it during the last century of its vigilance.
2:30pm - Unique Guided Tour
Now it is time to work off today’s breakfast and lunch! Join the Ipswich Building Preservation Trust for a special guided tour of historic buildings at risk in Ipswich, past and present. The tour will help you discover how the trust has already saved nine buildings for future generations to enjoy, as well an exciting proposed project. The walking tours will look at a variety of properties preserved by the Trust since 1978 including a former pub comprising two dilapidated cottages converted to single residence, and an early exemplar project in a tucked away corner of the town. Booking is required for this tour, as there are only 20 spaces available (although there is an earlier tour at 10:30am). You can book by contacting the Tourist Information Centre on 01473 258070.
5:00pm - The Thomas Wolsey Public House
After around Ipswich, I would imagine you are thirsty. Why not head to the Thomas Wolsey Public House. The building where this pub is situated was originally a wool merchant’s house that was built in the 15th Century. Over the last 500 years, it has been used for a variety of purposes, but since the 70s it has been known as a local drinking establishment
7:00pm - Salthouse Harbour Hotel
It’s time to head back to the Waterfront and check into the wonderful Salthouse Harbour Hotel, situated next to Isaacs on the Quay (where you started your day). Once you have checked into your contemporary hotel room looking over the historic harbour, head down to Eaterie (their on-site restaurant) and have something to fuel your Sunday! Once you are back in your room, put your head down, and wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated for another day of Ipswich heritage. To book a room at the Salthouse, click here
10:00am - Willis Towers Watson
Once you have enjoyed your breakfast at the Salthouse, it will be time to head off and carry on your heritage trail. Your first stop will be the offices of Willis Towers Watson in Friars Street. This iconic black glass building stands proudly in the centre of Ipswich and was designed by the world famous architect, Lord Foster. Now in its 41st year, it defies its age and remains as futuristic today as it was when it first opened. Visitors will be able to see the roof garden and enjoy refreshments in the Rooftop Rendezvous Restaurant/Costa Coffee Bar. There will be two tours in operation (1) the glass tour and (2) the swimming pool tour, Yes, that’s right. An office work space used to have a swimming pool!
12:00pm - Cock and Pye
The Cock and Pye is one of Ipswich’s most ancient pubs, being one of only 24 to appear on a town assessment of 1689. For this reason, what better place to stop in and have a bite to eat whilst you recharge ready for the next location. This family friendly pub still has its old style façade, yet the inside is modern and comfortable.
Mansion and Masonic Hall need to be swapped over as you naturally read what to do at 2pm before 1pm!
1:00pm - Ipswich Masonic Hall
Once leaving the pub, wander up to the Ipswich Masonic Hall. This historic building was built in the late Victorian period specifically for, and funded by, local Freemasons. The building itself has many noteworthy features including stained glass windows and the 'Temple' or Lodge room itself. The building is well used by its members and for most of the year there are meetings taking place virtually every weekday and on some Saturdays. Consequently it is not generally available to visit.
Within the building there is a wealth of interesting pieces of furniture and artefacts, some dating back hundreds of years, each with a story to tell. You will be guided through the building by Freemasons who have an enthusiasm for their hobby and for the building; each will be keen to share their knowledge and experiences.
2:00pm - Christchurch Mansion
Your tour of Ipswich’s heritage is coming to a close, and there’s no better place to end it than Christchurch Mansion. Located in the picturesque Christchurch Park, this beautiful Tudor mansion is the jewel in the crown of Ipswich's historic past boasting over 500 years of history.
Explore the period rooms from the Tudor kitchen to the sumptuous Georgian saloon and the beautifully detailed Victorian wing and much more. The onsite art gallery allows you to gaze at the fine collection of art from Suffolk artists including the biggest collection of Thomas Gainsborough and John Constable paintings outside of London.
At 2:00pm, join the ‘Peep into the Past’ tour that offers a short tour of the mansion pointing out key things of interest.
5:00pm - Sir Bobby Robson and Sir Alf Ramsey
As you are walking back to the train station to head home, take a small detour via Portman Road. At the home of Ipswich Town Football Club, you will find memorials (both in stand name and statue form) to two of the greatest English managers of all time, Sir Bobby Robson and Sir Alf Ramsey. Sir Alf Ramsey famously lead England to their only ever World Cup win in 1966, just four years after putting Ipswich on the footballing map by taking them from the second division to champions of England (Does that sound familiar?) Sir Bobby Robson took Ipswich to FA Cup and UEFA Cup glory, before coming so close to taking England to their second World Cup Final.