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Post Office Directory of 1865.
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IPSWICH is the largest market town and borough and the principal port
in Suffolk, the capital of and one of the polling places for the Eastern
division of the county, standing principally upon an easy acclivity rising upon
the north of a semicircular reach of the river Orwell, about 12 miles from the
sea, the head of a union and of a rural deanery, in the archdeaconry of Suffolk
and diocese of Norwich; it is a railway station on the Great Eastern line, 68
miles from London, 39 from Chelmsford, 17 from Colchester, 24 from Harwich (by
river 12), 9 from Manningtree, 13 from Hadleigh (by road 10), 12 from
Stowmarket, 26 from Bury, 40 from Newmarket, 58 from Cambridge, 26 from Diss, 43
from Norwich, 63 from Yarmouth, and 64 from Lowestoft: by road it is 8 miles
from Woodbridge, 20 from Framlingham, 45 from Lowestoft, and 54 from Yarmouth.
The river Orwell takes a south-easterly course, and flows into the German Ocean between the borough of Harwich on the south, and Landguard Fort upon the north. The scenery upon the river banks is of the most picturesque description, and, during the summer months, the most favourite recreation of the inhabitants of Ipswich is the trip between Ipswich and Harwich by the steamboats, which are constantly plying upon the river. At the most northerly point of the reach the river is crossed by an iron bridge erected in 1819, called Stoke Bridge, beyond which the river is called the Gipping, the channel taking a north-westerly direction as far as Stowmarket, to which place it is navigable by barges. On the south of Stoke Bridge is the suburb of Stoke; the railway station is contiguous to the town. East of the bridge is a wet dock, which was completed in 1842.
The population of the town, according to the census taken in 1861, was 37,950. The town contains twelve parishes, besides the greater part of the parishes of Whitton and Westerfield, which, though separate villages, are within the liberties of the borough. The parishes are St. Clement's, with a population of 7,061; St. Helen's, 2,748: St. Lawrence, 502; St. Margaret, 8,108; St Mary at the Elms, 1,178; St. Marv Key, 1,017; St. Mary Stoke, 2,518; St. Mary Tower, 984; St. Matthew's, 6,216; St. Nicholas, 1,912; St. Peter's, 3,639; St. Stephen's, 679; St. Mary Westerfield, 261; St. Mary Whitton, 406. The particulars relating to the benefices of the churches of these parishes are tabulated below.
Trinity church was erected in 1835, as a chapel of ease to St. Clement's. There are five Baptist chapels, two Independent, three Wesleyan, a Primitive Methodist chapel, a Unitarian chapel, a Society of Friends' meeting house, a Swedenborgian chapel, and Jews' synagogue. The Independent chapel, standing in Tacket-street, has been rebuilt, from plans supplied by Mr. F. Barnes, architect of the town, and is a very handsome building. The burial grounds attached to the churches and chapels have been closed since 1855, and a general cemetery has been opened beyond the precincts of the town, which is beautifully laid out.
The corporation consists of the mayor, ten aldermen, and thirty town-councillors. The town is divided into five wards: —St. Clement's Ward, St. Margaret's, Ward, Middle Ward, Bridge Ward, and Westgate Ward; each ward returns six councillors for three years, two going out of office every year.
The summer assizes for the county are held here; the spring assizes being held at Bury St. Edmund's. Quarter sessions are held in the usual session weeks; county and borough petty sessions are held on certain days every week; and the county court, for the recovery of small debts, monthly. The district comprises the borough of Ipswich and the parishes of Akenham, Arwarton, Asbbocking, Bailham, Barham, Belstead, Bentley, Blakenham Magna, Blakenham Parva, Brantham, Bramford. Burstall, Capel St. Mary, Chattisham, Chelmondiston, Claydon, Coddenham, Copdock, Crowfield, Flowton, Framsden, Freston, Gosbeck, Harkstead, Helmingham, Hemingstone, Henley, Hintlesham, Holbrook, Nacton, Nettlestead, Otf'ton, Pettaugh, Rushmere, Shotley, Somersham, Sproughton, Stutton, Swilland, Tattingstone, Tuddenham, Washbrook, Wenham Parva, Westerfield, Wherstead, Whitton, Willisham, Witnesham, Woolverstone.
The borough returns two members to Parliament.
Six newspapers are published here weekly:—The " Suffolk Chronicle," of Liberal politics, and the " Ipswich Journal," Conservative, both published on Saturdays; the “Ipswich Express,” of Whig politics, published on Tuesday; "Ipswich and Colchester Times," Liberal, published on Fridays; the " Suffolk Mercury," published on Saturdays; and the " Ipswich Advertiser," or " Monthly Miscellany."
About a mile westward is SPROUGHTON CHAUNTRY, the seat of Sir Fitz-Roy Kelly, Knt., Q.C, M.P. for the eastern division of the county. There are several other parks and seats, which add beauty to the banks of the Orwell.
Ipswich is exceedingly well situated for rural walks and scenery, and is a very healthy town, well supplied with beautiful spring water, under the management of a New Water Company, by whom arrangements are being carried out to ensure everywhere the most perfect supply, and provision is made to meet the occurrence of fire.
The streets of Ipswich are mostly ancient, but private enterprise has made a great improvement in their appearance in recent times, and the town itself is from day to day extending in all directions. The ancient house in the old Butter-market, now in the occupation of Mr. James Haddock, is an architectural curiosity, being covered with antiquated emblematical carving, no house in the kingdom, perhaps, for its dimensions, more curiously and quaintly ornamented, or containing in its inward parts more which can interest the connoisseur in antiquity. It is supposed to have been erected in 1567. In St. Peter's parish is an old brick gate, the only remnant of the college that Cardinal Wolsey erected in this town.
Ipswich was a town in the Saxon era, and suffered under the inroads of the Danes. Money was coined here as early as 901 A.D. The inhabitants purchased their freedom from Richard I., and obtained their first charter from King John.
An extensive coasting and foreign import and export trade is carried on here. The principal exports are corn, malt, butter, and the various manufactures of the town; the principal imports are coal, iron, timber, &c. Flush with the dock are the extensive " Orwell works" of Messrs. Ransomes' and Sims, celebrated for the manufacture of agricultural implements and machinery, and for every description of iron work. The Messrs. Turner, of St. Peter's works, are also extensive manufacturers of agricultural implements, machinery, etc, and there are besides several other minor manufacturers of the same class, and the Patent Concrete Stone Co. (limited), of which Mr. F. Ransome is the manager, have extensive works here. There are ship yards, a silk manufactory, breweries, malting, tanneries, rope yards, lime works, cement works, brick manufactories, etc.
The market for corn and cattle is held on Tuesdays, and the general markets on Tuesdays and Saturdays. St. George's stock fair is held on the first Tuesday in May, and a toy fair is held in the town on that and the two following days. The lamb fair is held at Handford Hall Farm on August 22nd, and two following days.
The public buildings are—the Town Hall, which is now about to be rebuilt on a much larger scale, the Corn Exchange, the County Court, the Custom House, and the Post Office. The Corn Exchange is used also as a place for large public meetings, and will accommodate 1,200 people.
There is a Cavalry Barracks in the town, and a small barrack and depot for the East Suffolk militia and the artillery corps, and a company of rifle volunteers has been formed.
The Mechanics' Institution is a very prosperous one, having 600 members: it has a large reading-room, and a library of about 7,000 volumes; also a public lecture hall, capable of accommodating 800 people: a chess club is held in the rooms of this institution.
The Ipswich Museum, established in 1847, by public subscription, is now supported by a corporation rate: it is a valuable collection, principally of natural history, scientifically arranged.
The Public Library, held at the Ancient House in the old Butter-market, contains upwards of 8,000 volumes: a medical library and a law library are held in the same building.
Here is a Temperance Hall, which will accommodate 7,000 people; a mental improvement society; and a library, containing about 3,000 volumes, in connection with the Orwell works; a young men's Christian association, and a horticultural society, which holds three grand exhibitions during the summer months. Here are a Theatre, Assembly Rooms for balls and concerts, a picturesque arboretum for public promenades, a bathing-place, public walks, public gardens, and a race ground, where races are held annually.
The town contains many charity schools, almshouses, and other charitable institutions: there is an Hospital and Dispensary for East Suffolk, supported by subscription—a shipwrecked seamen's society, supported partly by the subscriptions of its members and partly by donations, and a Free Grammar school of high character. In St. Matthew's is the Girls' Industrial Home for penitent orphan females: this establishment, founded by the philanthropy of one individual, was opened in September 1857: it is fitted up for the reception of twenty-four young women, and supported entirely by voluntary contributions: it is to give shelter, to rescue the fallen, the homeless, and the outcast, to open a way of escape for those who are without friends, character, or money.