The Ipswich Society has installed a number of blue plaques in the town – our version of the English Heritage Blue Plaques seen originally in London. What started at the turn of the century continues to be an important and relevant tribute to some of the most distinguished people who were born in the town or subsequently lived here.
The original idea for the plaques came from New Zealand in the late nineties. Bernard Brown, a lifelong friend of Neil Salmon, who was then editor of the newsletter, wondered why VS Pritchett, the author Sir Victor Pritchett CH was not celebrated in the town of his birth. Having emigrated to Auckland sometime before, Bernard, now professor of Law at Auckland University reminded Neil that Pritchett had been born in Ipswich in 1900. Neil immediately went about looking for ways in which the commemoration of such an esteemed writer could be made in the town.
One member of the Ipswich Society, the late Brian Jepson had already begun the process of commemorating one person of note, with the placing of a blue plaque to Dutch artist Cor Visser on his own house in Fore Street: he provided a template for the Society’s blue plaques.
Neil realised that this was an ideal way to remember Pritchett and he wondered, if a plaque could be erected, whether there might be an opportunity for other worthies of the town to be similarly recognised. Neil remembered that Jean Ingelow had been a writer of the 19th century and had been part of his School certificate studies with her poem A high tide on the coast of Lincolnshire. Dr John Blatchly, the historian, reminded Neil of Nathaniel Bacon and John Glyde. Robert Ransome, Thomas Gainsborough and William King made up the illustrious first tranche. These were erected during the course of the next year the first seven coincided with the new millennium.
Our hope is that the plaques will make the streetscape and our history more interesting. Most of our plaques are in and around the town centre. We have others which are a greater distance away from the centre. However, those focused on the town centre are where most passers-by might see them; they form a "trail" which could easily reveal to visitors some secrets or gems of the town.
Visit the Ipswich Society Image Archive website and find all our plaques: Blue Plaques album. Or click on individual names on the list below for a direct link to their images and details in our Image Archive. There are further plaques around the town, erected by other organisations. You can download the latest Blue Plaques leaflet or have a look in our Archive for the early versions of the leaflet.
- Jean Ingelow
- V.S. Pritchett
- Richard Dykes Alexander
- Thomas Gainsborough
- John Harbottle
- William King
- Nathaniel Bacon
- John Glyde
- Robert Ransome
- Leonard Squirrell
- Leslie Barefoot G.C.
- Charles Dickens
- Arthur Frederick Saunders VC
- Sir Charles Scott Sherrington OM GBE PRS
- Felix Thornley Cobbold
- Edith Maud Cook
- Charles Whitfield King
- Edward Ardizzone
- Margaret Tempest
- Nina Layard
- Mary Whitmore MBE
- Constance Andrews
FOUR NEW BLUE PLAQUES FOR 2016
Exciting times for the blue plaques with which the Society adorns our town. Having received mild criticism from feminist groups for the lack of female candidates for the plaques since inception of the scheme at a the turn of the millennium, we had four blue plaques unveiled during the course of October 2016.
The Ipswich Women's Festival Group, which aims to research and celebrate local women’s achievements via their excellent website (see Links), in conjunction with the Society oversaw the unveiling in early October of plaques around the town.
Joy Bounds, who leads the women's group and Tony Marsden, vice-chairman and responsible for the plaques have spent a great deal of time during the course of the year establishing the credentials of the women in question. With other members of the Festival Group speedy activity has seen the compilation of data, lengthy negotiations for permissions and detailed discussions in two cases with the Borough Council on the exact placement of plaques themselves.
The role of the Society has been to sponsor this event and it supports it fully, procuring the plaques and producing the new edition of the blue plaques brochure now available from the Tourist Information Centre in St. Stepehen's Church.
On October 8th 2016 Joy Bounds and the Ipswich Women's Festival Group led a trail which started from St Edmunds Road via Foundation Street ending up at the Cornhill to witness the celebration of, respectively, the artist/illustrator Margaret Tempest, (Lady Mears); Nina Layard, the archaeologist; leading Ipswich suffragette Constance Andrews and Mary Whitmore MBE who was the first woman Mayor of Ipswich in 1946.