Charting Ipswich’s History – New Historic Towns Trust Map of one of England’s Oldest Towns – LECTURE

Date / time: 28 March, 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Charting Ipswich’s History - New Historic Towns Trust Map of one of England’s Oldest Towns - LECTURE


This event is run by BALH in partnership with the Historic Towns Trust, part of a series of evening lectures in 2024.

James Winterbotham and Keith Wade will give an update on a new Historic Towns Trust map planned for Ipswich, one of England’s wealthiest port towns in the Middle Ages. James will set out the background to the project – how the Historic Towns Trust operates, what we hope the map will achieve – and how the project will come together. Keith will provide a summary of the town’s development from Anglo-Saxon times, looking at the principal features of Ipswich’s topography, and what recent archaeological excavations tell us about the town’s unique history.

The origins of the present town of Ipswich lie in the 7th century when it functioned as a landing place for foreign visitors, both traders and diplomats, wishing to engage with the local elite. In the early eighth century a permanent settlement was laid out around existing routeways and the town grew to cover 50 hectares, both north and south of the river Orwell. The Danes built the first town defences in the late ninth century and they were rebuilt on roughly the same lines in the 11th and 13th centuries. Although now levelled their route can still be seen in the street system. The port flourished throughout the medieval period but declined in the 17th and 18th centuries. Significant monuments now gone include five medieval religious houses and Wolsey’s College. The town became very wealthy in the 19th century after the creation of a wet dock and the coming of the railway. As a result, the town boasts many splendid public buildings of that date.

A combination of archaeological and historical evidence indicates an astonishing continuity of the 8th century street system, only modified by later developments.

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