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Be surprised with some of the best highlights the town has to offer

things to do in ipswich


If you’re looking to sample some of the most interesting or unusual features of Ipswich life then we’ve put together some of our personal favourites. Whether you are visiting Ipswich for the weekend, here on an overnight business trip, or whether you live here and are looking for some inspiration we hope we’ve included a good mix for you to choose from.

The Ancient House

the ancient house

Address: The Butter Market, Ipswich, IP1 1BT

Description: The Ancient House is one of Ipswich’s most famous buildings. Built in 1567 this Grade I listed building was originally named the ‘Sparrows house’, after the Sparrowe family took ownership in the 1590s, and where it remained for almost 300 years. As staunch royalists, the Sparrowe family made a number of adaptations to the building, which included decorating the exterior walls with extravagant pargetting, with the Royal Arms of King Charles II are set prominently in the centre. Four continents are positioned under each window, Europe, Africa, Americas and Asia. You will note that Australasia is missing – it was undiscovered at this time.

Additional Information: The Ancient House has transferred ownership during its lifetime. For a while it was a bookshop, whilst nowadays it is home to Lakeland, where some of the interior architecture has been preserved and can still be admired.

Arlingtons Brasserie


Address: 13 Museum Street, Ipswich, IP1 1HE

Description: Now a thriving popular restaurant, Arlingtons was once the building that housed the Museum for the town. It opened in 1847, with an aim to educate the working classes about natural history. In 1851 HRH Prince Albert became the official Patron of the museum. The museum transferred to its current location in 1881, but the current owners have preserved much of the history, which you can read more about on their website. Arlingtons is a stylish brasserie, tucked away in the impressive, Grade II listed, former Ipswich Museum building. French and British seasonal flavours, exquisite wines and convivial atmosphere. Perfect for morning coffee, lunch, dinner and cocktails.

Additional Information: Open every day, with early evening closing on Sundays and Mondays.

Christchurch Mansion

christchurch park

Address: Soane Street, Ipswich, IP4 2BE

Description: Christchurch Mansion is a beautiful example of a Tudor mansion, and is widely considered to be one of the jewels in the crown in the history of Ipswich. With over 500 years of history there is much to see and explore. Helpful fact sheets are placed in each room and there is always a number of helpful and informative staff on hand to help fill in the gaps. When you’ve completed your visit, take time out for refreshments in the Mansion Café, and don’t forget to make time for a stroll around the stunning Christchurch Park.

Additional Information: It is free to enter Christchurch Mansion. At certain times during the year additional events are planned, including activities for children. Opening times vary across the year, so please check the website before planning your visit.

Clifford Road Air Raid Shelter

clifford road air raid shelter

Address: Clifford Road Primary School, Clifford Road, Ipswich, IP4 1PJ

Telephone: 01473 251605

Description: This particularly robust air shelter which was built under the influence of controversial MP Richard Stokes, it was discovered in 1989 under the playground of an Ipswich school. After the war, the air raid shelter was sealed up and forgotten about. Workmen excavating a small pond for the school found one of the original entrances and to everyone surprise the tunnels had maintained their structure and were in first class condition. The Air Raid Shelter is now open to the public and provides a real experience of what it was like for those using air raid shelters during World War II.

Additional Information: Clifford Road Air Raid Shelter is open at varying weekends across the year so it is best to check the website for more details.

The Giles Statue

giles statue

Address: The Giles Circus, Queen Street, Ipswich, IP1 1SW

Description: The Giles statue is located in an area of the town centre known as the Giles Circle. The statue is a tribute to Carl Giles who lived his adult life in the town, and the position of the statue is set so that Grandma is looking up at the office window where Giles used to work and from where he created many of his works. The statue was originally unveiled in 1993 by actor Warren Mitchell. The statue was removed in February 2010 as £650,000 of work started on the surrounding Giles Square. The statue was put back when the Square’s refurbishment was complete.

Additional Information: Carl Giles was famous for his illustrations in the Daily Mail but did you know he was offered work as an illustrator for Walt Disney in the USA, but decided his future laid here in Ipswich?

New Wolsey Theatre

new wolsey theatre

Address: Civic Drive, Ipswich, IP1 2AS

Telephone: 01473 295900

Description: This great theatre seats up to 400 people and is located in the centre of Ipswich town. Attracting audiences from far and wide, it is also a favourite amongst local people. Productions include one night shows to pantomimes, drama, comedy and music. You can even book yourself in for a back-stage tour and get a real feel of what it is like to stand on the stage. There is a great range of productions for children, as well as the popular Under-12s and Under-18s Comedy Nights (no parents allowed at the Under 18s Comedy Nights), and the Storyteller sessions for the younger audiences.

Additional Information: The New Wolsey Theatre is fully accessible, with Infra Red Hearing Enhancement, Touch Tours and Audio Described performances. Pricing is very reasonable.

Spirit Yachts

sprit yachts

Address: New Cut West, Ipswich, IP3 0EA

Description: For most of us a luxury yacht is a dream, but that shouldn’t stop us admiring these beautiful hand-crafted wooden yachts as they are moored in the waters of Ipswich Waterfront. Spirit Yachts is officially recognised as a Queen’s Award Yacht Designers and Builders – inspirational for anyone living or working in Ipswich! Spirit Yachts are world leaders in modern and classic yacht design. Some of their biggest yachts are up to 100 feet tall. The yachts are designed and built by hand staying true to classic yacht design but making use of modern technologies. Their main warehouse is based along Ipswich Waterfront, when visiting the waterfront you can see the luxurious yachts lined up which makes for quite a spectacle.

Additional Information: As well as designing and building yachts, Team Spirit also takes part in a number of international events each year. In 2013 Team Spirit achieved first of class in three races in the Antigua Regatta Awards.

Viking Mariners Sea School

viking mariners

Address: Ipswich Haven Marina, New Cut West, Ipswich, IP3 0EA

Telephone: 01394 421209

Description: Viking Mariners has a really strong team of experienced trainers in leadership, management and team building who are keen to offer a programme of courses and learning to deliver qualifications and training. They offer practical training in all forms of sailing as well as the theory side to their clients who wish to progress from recreational and leisure sailing to have an RYA qualification. They offer courses on all types of sailing and for any ability, from complete beginner to more experienced sailors. Learn how to sail yachts and motorised boats, you can even get tuition for our own boat if you own one.

Additional Information: They have events throughout the year, check out their website for more details.

Walking Tours Around Ipswich

curzon lodge

Address: Across Ipswich

Description: There are many great starting points that you could take for your walk around the Ipswich countryside. We have included the link to Walk 4 Life which gives you many amazing walking routes at different locations across the town. Whether you want to follow the route of the Olympic Flame, along Nacton shores or by Ipswich Waterfront there is a good selection, with plenty of detail, including length and timings. Needless to say there is are some beautiful natural scenes to be see around Ipswich. Get yourself and your children active, enjoy the great outdoors and see what Ipswich has to offer.

Additional Information: We recommend you take a walk along the banks of River Orwell where you can admire the splendid of the stunning Orwell Bridge, and enjoy the flora and fauna of this unspoilt area.

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