The current editor has been looking carefully at the set of prints of drawings by John Shewell Corder, Ipswich architect and superb architectural illustrator which he believes were given to him by the previous editor some time ago. This rather good set of reproductions will be recalled by some members; they were published by ‘Ipswich Borough Council Department of Recreation & Amenities, Director: J.G.R. Bevan J.P. MSc.’, as spelt out on the accompanying information sheet. While perusing the notes, one small detail popped out:-

“2. Old Houses on the Quay [1888]. On the North side of Key Street immediately behind the Customs House. Typical wealthy merchants’ houses. The doorway of the one shown in this picture is preserved in the Victoria and Albert Museum.” [ringed in grey in the illustration]

Now, several years ago, the editor’s wife visited said museum and noticed an Ipswich door exhibited on the ground floor. Eventually, a reasonable photograph was taken during a joint visit in December 2019 (yes, it does sound an awful long time ago, doesn’t it?). The problem was that a strong spotlight shone on a nearby exhibit, casting a shadow across the door. However, the door was captured with an idea that it might go into our Newsletter at some time. Nearly a year later, the coincidence with the print was noticed and, for two reasons, the ancient oak doorway found its way onto the back cover. These things can’t be rushed.

As historical records of Ipswich, Corder’s drawings are invaluable, but they are also beautiful, evocative works of art.     R.G.

Large photograph: 'Door and door frame, about 1500-30. Oak. The survival of this doorway is due in part to the robust construction, with thick broad planks strengthened by carved uprights and large iron nails. The door comes from a fine timber-framed house in Ipswich.' [V&A Museum]

Detail: the many locks which have been fitted to the smaller door over time.


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