The term ‘Ipswich Window' is sometimes used to describe an oriel window which projects out from the main wall, at an upper floor of a building, but which does not reach to the ground. Such a window is often supported by corbels or brackets, or is part of the jettied first floor. However, we learn from a website associated with James Bettley's excellent Pevsner, East and West Suffolk volumes that the crucial feature which distinguishes the ‘Ipswich window' is a specific design of glazing bars within the window:
‘They are similar to a Venetian window with an addition across the whole width and two small panes over the semi-circle.' This type first appeared in London about the middle of the 17th century but soon spread to provincial towns. The spectacular examples on Sparrowe's House (The Ancient House in Ipswich) led architectural historians to coin the term ‘Ipswich windows'. The window type was picked up and used extensively by the Victorian architect Richard Norman Shaw and others.
Looking at examples of ‘Ipswich window' it would appear that they are not necessarily oriel in character, although they can be found in this form on The Ancient House in Butter Market and The Wheatsheaf at 24 Fore Street*. The Ipswich window takes the central semi-circular section of the ‘Venetian window' which projects above the rest, adds a glazing bar horizontally through the centre of the semi-circle and adds smaller panes either side to form a rectangular window.
(*The Wheatsheaf has a flat Ipswich window in each of the three gables, plus one in an oriel form to the left at first floor level: the remaining two oriels don't have a semi-circular feature, but presumably once did.)
This implies that many of the oriel-type windows to be found around our town, while being attractive, quirky and of interest, aren't actually ‘Ipswich Windows' at all.
Below: examples of Ipswich Windows: The Wheatsheaf in Fore Street at two recent refurbishments. Dial Lane, The Plough public house in Dogs Head Street, Tavern Street/Dial Lane, Croydons in Tavern Street and The Ancient House in Butter Market, St Margarets Plain.