Ipswich is one of England's oldest towns, and took shape in Anglo-Saxon times (in the 7th–8th centuries) around Ipswich dock. As the coastal states of north-western Europe emerged from the collapse of the Roman Empire, essential North Sea trade and communication between eastern Britain and the continent (especially to Scandinavia, and through the Rhine) passed through the formerly Roman ports of London (serving the Kingdoms of Mercia, the East Saxons and of Kent) and of York (Eoforwic) (serving the Kingdom of Northumbria).
The Tolly Cobbold brewery, built in the 19th century and rebuilt 1894–1896, is one of the finest Victorian breweries in the United Kingdom. There was a Cobbold brewery in the town from 1746 until 2002 when Ridley's Breweries took Tolly Cobbold over. Felix Thornley Cobbold presented Christchurch Mansion to the town in 1896. Smaller breweries include St Jude's Brewery situated in an 18th century coach-house near the town centre.
The town centre contains the glass-clad building owned by Willis, properly called the Willis Building but still often called the "Willis-Faber building" by locals, as the company Willis Corroon themselves used to be called Willis Faber. Designed by Norman Foster, the building dates from 1974. It became the youngest Grade I listed building in Britain in 1991 and at the time one of only two buildings to be listed and be under 30 years of age.
Discover Ipswich's historic past with a visit to the beautiful Christchurch Mansion, in Christchurch Park, just five minutes walk from the town centre.See period rooms from the sumptuous Georgian Saloon, to the more humble Victorian wing with its displays of children's toys and dolls houses. Don't miss the biggest collection of paintings by Gainsborough and Constable outside of London, along with collections of other artists inspired by the beautiful landscapes of East Anglia. The Mansion is free to visit. There is disabled access to parts of the Mansion but please contact us directly for more detailed information. Christchurch Mansion is run by the Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service.
Ipswich Museum has a wealth of treasures to amaze you! You can discover life in Roman Suffolk, find out about the Anglo-Saxon origins of Ipswich, follow the growth of our town in the Ipswich Story gallery and, new for 2010, you can visit our exciting Egyptian Gallery.You can even see artefacts from Africa, Asia North America and the Pacific.
Visit the Suffolk Wildlife Gallery to see how the the countryside has changed over centuries of management. Look at our newly refurbished gallery of British Birds and find out all about the fossils, rocks, and minerals in our region. See how the museum looked 100 years ago in the Victorian Natural History Gallery. Pre-school visitors can find out about foxes, hares, rabbits and seals in the mammal gallery and discover gods and mummies in the Egyptian gallery. Follow the Ipswich cat for a child's eye view of the museum.
The Town Hall Galleries is a dedicated visual arts venue in a beautiful historic venue - right in the heart of Ipswich. The Galleries present a changing and varied programme of visual arts, as well as fascinating community and heritage projects. The venue is proud to showcase local artists, as well as bringing the best of contemporary art to Ipswich from the region and beyond.
At the Galleries, visitors can experience and participate in a range of contemporary exhibitions and events. There is often a range of activities to join in with to complement the exhibitions. The Town Hall Galleries is run by the Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service and is free to visit.