AC Keeble meets Lord Wolsey in Ipswich

It’s been a long time since my last train trip adventure to another part of Britain. Lockdown has reduced the hospitality and leisure industry these last six months and I have been without a break from domestic institutionalism. However I took advantage of lockdown to save my money and put it aside for a future big spend. I decided to take this adventure to Ipswich for two reasons. First I have got some money to spend at last and Ipswich was on my travel list and was not to far. And secondly my sister is celebrating her 30th birthday with a girls only party at home.

So here are here at Ipswich and what a lot of walking I have done today on this trip. Let’s cut to the chase and get in town. My first impressions of this idyllic English town is vert good. I like the sights and the town’s history. It has a vibrant mix of architecture, stories, shopping, maritime adventures and a good market town. I took my camera and gazed at everything and snapped away for hours. Ipswich’s tourist attractions are very close to each other and some of them date back to the time when Ipswich began life as an Anglo Saxon port.

I began my travels looking for lunch and took a trip through the market town. Along the way I stopped by and saw the statue of Lord Thomas Wolsey, the most famous resident of Ipswich. He was a cardinal of the catholic church during the reign of King Henry 8th and then promoted to a statesman as Lord Chancellor. I remember learning about his story from the BBC series Wolf Hall many years ago and it interesting to see this man’s place of birth. Wolsey is one of the key players in the transition of England’s transition into a Anglican nation when Henry became the head of the Church of England. A pub sign that I found on a Tudor building pays homage to where Wolsey was born.

The architecture of Ipswich was a mix of old and modern with the market town having a mix of Tudor buildings and modern Victorian warehouses converted into hotels and restaurants. I went for a walk around the shops and there were some surprises that I found in their trade. One of them was an African lady called Akwero Jennifer who ran a shop called African Boat that makes handmade African crafts like jewellery and bags. Some of them that I saw was very beautifully made and I told her about my work as a trade agency researcher for African-UK business investment.

This African crafts store was very much alike the community here which excels in celebrating locally made produce and items. I did all my best to avoid the chains, as per my policy of travelling to a town for a break, and sampled the local cuisine. I had a nice earl grey tea in a tea shop called The Green Room. It had a lovely service there and I was fortunate enough to be there with so few people in compliance with Covid restrictions.

One noticeable feature about Ipswich is the large number of churches that I found within every square mile of the town. One of them was St Mary-le-Tower Church that had a connection with the Magna Carter, as it is mentioned in the Domesday Book where it dates back to 1086, at the time of William the Conqueror. The church itself is actually a rebuilt church from 1860 but the building is actually a medieval structure. Going back to Cardinal Wolsey the furthest I went was to Christchurch Park and Mansion. The mansion is now a museum and it’s a Grade 1 listed building. At the time it was built Henry 8th had dissolved the monasteries across England and the land that the park now constitutes was bought from the Priory of the Holy Trinity by Paul Withypoll. He built a mansion to use as the base for the Merchant Taylorship of London to operate in Ipswich. Through the centuries the building and the park fell through different hands and they are now property of the council since 1894. It was them that converted it into a museum and has been open to the public ever since.

I could go on and on about this magnificent town but it would mean me having to write an entire travel brochure, which is not the style of this blog. But I think the best thing about Ipswich is the way it’s people have upcycled it’s glory days as a port into a marina with a hip and trendy quayside. I went for a walk around the whole of the quayside and found so many boats in the port that it looked like a glamourous waterfront. The Old Custom House shines brilliantly at night and the local restaurants are worth seeing for all their good food.

The ended with a succulent burger at the quayside restaurant Issacs on the Quay and Briarbank Brewery. It was a really good location as the view matched the quality of the atmosphere here. Most of the time I go to a restaurant on a holiday I find myself eating the restaurants signature dish but sometimes it’s never a different thing. Any two top restaurants will have a house burger on their menu but what makes each one different is how they make it. Issac’s house burger is a really hot one with spicy jalapenos. I tend to avoid those because they can make my tongue burn. But on this occasion it was great.

Now I think it’s time for me to get ready for my next post. It was a good day out and I now need to move onto the next trip. I hope that it will be somewhere further away and with a lot more to do. But I am not going to make any more further great train journeys until the pandemic is past it’s current danger rating. The cure should be found sometime soon by the end of the year.

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