Walking in the World

Tag Archives: Ipswich

Ancient House


I’ve lived in England for quite a while now, but I’m still not past the thrill of seeing something like this when I’m walking down the street. We visited Ipswich again last week, and en route to our favourite restaurant for lunch, we walked through town for a bit of shopping. Imagine my delight in seeing that Lakeland, our national kitchen gadget store, is housed in a 15th century Grade 1* Listed building! Wow! Yes, we went in, and yes, we bought a few little goodies…. but the real delight was exploring the building. I was too awed to take many photos, but we’ll go back again.IpswichLakeland2w

The appropriately named Ancient House is adorned with an intricate pargeted facade that was installed in 1680 by William Sparrow, and features the English version of the United Kingdom’s royal coat of arms. Inside the building, Lakeland’s modern gadgets are laid out amongst beautiful woodwork and authentic architectural features, including a fireplace lined with Delft tiles. I definitely need to go back for photos… in the meantime, this is a view of the Church from the windows:


Just look at the sweet little angels perched high overhead:


I like the idea of them watching over the town and its people.

23 Mar 2016

Silent Street



The internet is a wonderful thing! (Obviously, or this blog wouldn’t exist…) After my post about our morning in Ipswich, a reader did a bit of research and sent me an update on the naming of Silent Street. Now why didn’t I think of that? I had googled Ipswich, but didn’t take it any further. I’m glad she did, though, because the reading gave me good food for thought.

When I first saw the sign, my innate pilgrimage/monastic mindedness lead me to assum that it had to do with something prayerful or meditative, something in conjunction with Ipswich being a medieval pilgrimage destination due to its local Marian shrine, Our Lady of Grace, also known as the Madonna of Ipswich.

A website about the historic public lettering in Ipswich gives a short history of selected street names, and suggests two possibilities for Silent Street, neither of which is quite so rosy-tinted or pleasant. Borin van Loon writes:

…. there are two commonly-believed sources of this name. 1. The street became unnaturally quiet due to the large number of deaths from plague in 1665-6 (one week 34 out of 64 burials were deaths from plague). 2. More likely explanation is that straw was laid down on the street to deaden the noise of passing horses and carts when Curson House (known as King’s Hospital – the building no longer exists) was used as a hospital for sick and wounded seamen during the Dutch wars of the 1650s, 1660s and 1670s. However, Robert Malster’s ‘A-Z’ book points out that the first recorded use of ‘Silent Street’ as a name wasn’t until 1764.

One of the blessings of this blog has been the brief research I’ve done into many of the things I see, and this is an excellent case in point. I like to make up stories in my head (which I fortunately don’t usually share publicly), and need to stay committed to searching ever deeper into the truth of things and not be tempted into promoting romanticized imaginings, something that Jeff and I run into frequently in our work as editors and labyrinth historians (we have written about it here.) This Ipswich website may take us closer to the street’s history, but the fact remains that my hermitly soul continues to be intrigued by the thought of a silent street, whatever the reason for the silence.

Silent Street

18 Sep 2015

Ancient Ipswich


We had an appointment in Ipswich this morning which gave us the chance to have lunch and explore the old town for a bit. Located on the estuary of the River Orwell, Ipswich is one of the oldest towns in England, dating back until at least Roman times. In the hour or so that we had in town, we barely scratched the surface of its rich history. This tile of St George is on the wall of what is now the Conservative Club, across from the church that now houses the tourist information office.

During the Middle Ages, the Marian Shrine of Our Lady of Grace made Ipswich a popular pilgrimage destination, though the statue disappeared during the Reformation. Chaucer wrote about the merchants of Ipswich in Canterbury Tales. Clearly this is a place I want to know more about!

I was intrigued by the name of this street near the center of town, and want to know how it got its name:

Silent Street

Sounds like my kind of street!


15 Sep 2015

%d bloggers like this: