Last Updated on August 19, 2023
If you have lived in or near Ipswich for a while you may know some interesting facts about the history of the town. But there are also some amazing facts about the history of Ipswich that you might not know about. Ipswich is a very old town and has many hidden fascinating secrets.
Ipswich is around 1,400 years old
There’s evidence to suggest that Ipswich was initially founded in the early 7th century as a trading settlement. Being connected to the rest of the country via a large river and the sea made Ipswich a great place to trade for early settlers.
Ipswich is one of the first towns in the UK captured by Vikings
Although records are a little vague historians believe that Ipswich was captured by Vikings in 869AD. Eventually Danes lost control of Ipswich, but they regained control in 917AD. The strengths that led to be founded by traders swiftly became a liability when the Danes came calling.
The first Ipswich newspaper was launched in 1717
In the early 1700’s Newspapers were being founded all over Britain, and Ipswich was one of the first towns to have their own local rag. The first Ipswich newspaper was called the ‘Suffolk Mercury’). Early news stories included tales of butter theft and somewhat surprisingly were full of sordid local gossip. Some content was taken from other publications that arrived by stagecoach, so just like today syndication was all the rage.
Orwell Country Park is younger than you think
Although it feels like it has always been there (and in a way it has) Orwell Country Park is actually quite new. It was opened by Ipswich Borough Council in 1995, theoretically making it one of the newest tourist attractions in Ipswich.
Photo Credit – Adrian Cable
Ipswich had it’s own barracks, and I bet you can’t guess where they were!
Although the Danish raids happened around a thousand years earlier eighteenth century Ipswich was still a little nervous about being vulnerable to an invasion down the River Orwell. These fears were fuelled in part by the very real threat of invasion by the French. However, the Orwell was a two-way street (er, for boats) and was used as a staging point for dispatching British soldiers off to give the French some stick.
The main Ipswich barracks were built to the north of St Matthew’s Street, near the junction with Norwich Road. An area called Barracks corner, which was must have been wonderfully convenient. The barracks on Barrack corner were large enough to merit note in the famous ‘London Illustrated News’. There was a smaller barracks was situated inside a specially converted maltings that we know today as Felaw Maltings. An additional, much smaller barracks was situated near Belvedere Road, which was formally known as ‘Parade Field Terrace’.