Arlingtons, Museum Street IP1 1HE

Arlingtons Brasserie has been known for its fine dining and atmospheric surroundings. It also has a unique position in the history of the town. This original Ipswich Museum building, opened in 1847 and provided by benefactors, was the centre for an explosion in interest in science, the natural world, and the environment in Victorian Ipswich. The architect was Christopher Fleury, who also designed Ipswich public school in Henley Road, and the facade is notable for its two enormous Tuscan pillars.

There were lectures and presentations from many noted scientists and thinkers, attended by hundreds of people who wanted to learn.

Reverend John Stevens Henslow was the museum president from 1850 to 1861. He gave lectures to four hundred people packed in upstairs, explaining a sample from HMS Beagle (Charles Darwin’s research vessel), or something from the museum collections.

The Rev. Henslow had been Darwin’s mentor at Cambridge and many of the Ipswich Museum collections were built up at the time of Darwin’s publication of The Origin of Species where there was a fascination with the natural world and, of course, strong arguments for and against the theory of evolution. The restaurant has a Darwin Room to mark this association.

In 1911 the Ipswich branch of the Women’s Freedom League, led by Constance Andrews, hired out what was then called the Old Museum Rooms on Census night to stage a boycott. Around 20 to 30 women spent the night there to avoid filling out their Census forms in protest at their lack of say in the government.

[Source: based on notes by former restaurant owner Liz Ambler who restored the building with her husband Ken.]

LinksIpswich Society Image Archive; Historic England Listing