In Ipswich, the county town of Suffolk, we run into Charles Dickens again. He stayed at the Great White Horse Hotel (now closed) in 1835 and used the town as the setting for some of the scenes in one of his most famous novels, The Pickwick Papers, including the entertaining account of Mr Pickwick’s encounter with the “middle-aged lady, in yellow curl-papers” which took place during Pickwick’s fictional stay at the hotel. Another character in the novel is Mary, the housemaid of Nupkins, the Mayor of Ipswich, who is pursued by Pickwick’s servant, Sam Weller.
Today’s Ipswich is a large town with the old and the new sitting cheek by jowl. Some of the most attractive older buildings are of a type common in Suffolk, with exteriors painted in different colours, with timber frames. The town’s position at the point where the River Orwell widens has meant that it has for centuries played an important role in providing a route inland for water transport, and the present-day waterfront provides plenty of reminders of this role. As is the case with so many waterfronts in modern Britain, the mills and maltings which formed the focal point of trading activities in former times have been given over to the twin attractions of leisure and waterside accommodation, having been turned into apartments, hotels and restaurants. There is also a marina for yachts. Back in the centre of Ipswich, in 65 acres of parkland, is one of the town’s major attractions, Christchurch Mansion, a tudor mansion dating from the 16th century, and housing a wealth of antiques and art in its gracious rooms.
For a list of events in Ipswich, see here.
Map of the area.