Tooley's and Smart's Almshouses, Foundation Street, Richard
The street is named after the 'Foundation' or
originally built in 1552 – and Christ's
Hospital (established in
1572 in the old monastic buildings, namely the Frater, of the Dominican
was, in fact, an amalgamation of foundations, including the first
buildings of what went on to become Ipswich Grammar School – see
'Richard Felaw' at bottom of this page). Prior to
that, it was known as St Edmund Pountney Lane after the chapel of that
name which once stood on Rosemary Lane, between Foundation Street and
Lower Brook Street (more detail and
photographs can bee seen on that page). Foundation Street
was earlier home to the
Dominican Friars (Blackfriars), the ruins of whose church
are still visible next to The Unicorn
Moving southwards, we pass Blackfriars Court, a modern sheltered
housing complex (visible in the above photograph). Across the entry
which used to be called Tooley Street (see the 1902 map below), is the
corner of Tooley's & Smart's Almshouses. "The
original Tooley's and Smart's Almshouses were rebuilt in
1846, designed by architect John Medland Clark: a big group of redbrick
buildings with some fanciful timberwork, notably the outer staircases
in the gable-ends of the projecting wings. Even more fanciful, with
exposed timbers and brick nogging, the gatehouse [shown above] of 1861,
no doubt by R.M. Phipson, Clark's pupil and successor to his practice."
Information from Bettley, J. - Suffolk:
East Pevsner (see Reading list).
The above 19th century view of the
same corner was
taken by noted photographer, William Vick. It comes form the Ipswich
Society Image Archive (see Links).
In the 1860s William Vick an ex-teacher, now a photographer, had his
studio in London Road just where it meets Clarkson Street (barrack
Corner) and was offering to take landscapes, residences and groups as
well as portraits.
TooleyStreet (today bearing the street nameplate 'Blackfriars Court')
is to the left and Foundation Street to the right, sloping towards the
docks; the horse manure
indicates the car-free era.
The differences between the 1884 and 2017 photographs
are interesting. The elaborate metalwork lamp on the square section
pillar has been replaced by a ball finial on a hexagonal section brick
pillar. The iron railings, used extensively here have been removed,
probably during World War II in a 'scrap for munitions' drive – the
cemented-over seatings of the railings can still be seen on the stone
wall copings. The roof ridge decorations have been removed. Most
strikingly, the gable-ends have been remodelled so that only the
central timber 'balcony' sections remain; also some of the tiled
canopies and doors on the Tooley Street elevation have been removed.
The dated rain-hoppers
March 2017: Talking of the 'Tooley Street' elevation, we found a
rain-hopper (and not the only one) with an earlier date than others
recorded heretofore. '1852' indicates that the outer parts
of the almhouses were probably built nine years earlier than the
central gatehouse and courtyard (shown below).]
Below: the gatehouse and inner courtyard (across the road
is a blue plaque celebrating Thomas
Gainsborough). The cast
'1861' characters in the rain-hopper (above the white van
in the photograph below left) resembles the carved date on number 6 St Helens Street. Other
dated rain-hoppers can be seen on our Dated
Beautifully maintained lettering plaques in gold,
red and black
on the relief moulding celebrate these ancient endowments to the town
two (or more) of its wealthiest sixteenth century merchant
philanthropists – although the actual buildings are more recent
On Heritage Open Day weekend we were able to walk into the sheltered
garden within the almshouses. These photographs record that visit and
show that the internal rainhoppers also carry the date '1861'. We also
note another rather fine coloured, relief rendition of the Ipswich Borough coat of arms. The informative
plaques within the porch tell their own story.]
GARDENS WERE BEAUTIFIED IN
1952 IN MEMORY OF WILLIAM S. JEWHURST
FOR 28 YEARS HON. SECRETARY TO THE
IPSWICH AND EAST OF ENGLAND
– A LOVER OF GARDENS –'
ARCHITECT, WHO DIED
BY A BEQUEST OF
TRUSTEES OF THESE
ALMSHOUSES TO ADD TO THE COMFORT
INMATES BY THE ERECTION OF
John Shewell Corder was an
interesting architect of his day, working on many buildings in Ipswich
and beyond. A favourite is the art nouveau ‘Scarborow’
shop in Dial Lane (now Pickwick’s Tea Shop). He was also a talented
illustrator and recorded many buildings and corner-posts before they
were demolished – and some of which still stand.
Reading from the upper (town end) of Foundation Street:-
of Ipswich by his will
dated Nov. 15 1550
estates for the
purpose of erecting Alms
houses and for the main
of poor persons
powerfull Silence lett great Toolie rest
Whose charitable Deeds bespeak him blest
were founded in the year
and near the site of the
and imperceptibly on to Smart's Almhouses:
of Ipswich by his will
dated January 9 1598
several estates for the
purpose of maintaining
sundry poor persons and
them in clothes, coals &c'
'Let gentle Smart
sleep on in pious trust
Behold his Charity, respect his dust'
And much more recently - and in slightly more municipal lettering high
the last gable:-
Alderman of the Borough of
Ipswich and Justice of
Peace for the County of Suf-
folk by a Munificent Gift of
much needed at the time greatly
increased the Usefulness of
– 26th June 1902'
And finally (with an individual use of full-stops) a
Ipswich and Suffolk names on a plaque near the main entrance:-
H. Aldrich. Esq.
H. Bond. Esq.
Benjn. Beame. Esq.
C. Colchester. Esq.
Rev. J.C. Ebden M.A.
J. Footman. Esq.
W.C. Fonnereau. Esq.
J. Head. Esq.
Peter B. Long. Esq.
Rev. J.C. Nottidge. Esq.
S. Ray. Esq.
W. Rodwell. Esq.
M. Turner. Esq.
W. Turner. Esq.
S.A. Nottcutt. Clerk.'
The metalwork pennants
It was only in 2014 that we noticed
decorative 'vanes' (similar to weather vanes, but it doesn't look as if
they move) above chimney-like, stonework masts (our term).
1. From the north end of the Foundation
Street frontage we see a
monogram which appears to be upside down (see the date, later); it
could be 'TC' for Tooley Court. The close-up to the upper right shows a
2. The next one down the street looks like
a freemasonry symbol (see
the Tau cross in the circle on the Freemason's
Hall), but turning that one upside down also produces a convincing
'HT' monogramme for Henry Tooley.
Moving down past the main entrance to
Tooley Court are the next
pair of vanes.
3. This date is definitely upside down (a
fact which gave us the idea
to flip the first two) and clearly reads '1851' in the upper right
4. The final monogramme appeared at first
to be the
right way up: intertwining
'M' and 'S' suggesting the foundation's connection with St Mary-at-Quay at the bottom of the
road – indeed a similar sort of monogram in wrought iron can be seen
above that church's gates. However, mature reflection leads us to
believe that this, too, is upside down. Surely it commemorates the
second merchant benefactor of the Tooley's and Smart's Almshouses: William Smart (the monogram being 'WS').
The final photograph in the sequence shows
vane number 4 (upper
left) and the almshouses at the corner with Smart
Maritime Ipswich plaque
SHIPOWNER & MERCHANT
FOUNDED THESE ALMSHOUSES
IPSWICH SOCIETY TRAIL CAST BY
Tucked away south of the main
entrance to the courtyard, this plaque can be found; it is sometimes
obscured by foliage. See our plaques page
for further examples.
See also our More
almhouses page. Further almshouse lettering can be
found in Colchester.
'Great Tooley of Ipswich' by John Webb. Boydell
published 1970 (Suffolk Records Society). ISBN-13: 9780900716102
When Henry Tooley drew up his will shortly before his
death in 1551 he
ensured the survival of two monuments to his career as a merchant in
Ipswich: the almshouses which still stand in the town, and an account
book which the Corporation originally acquired to administer his
bequest and now hold in their archives. From this rare and valuable
record, augmented by a few family and business letters and a thorough
search of local and national archives the author has written a brief
but impressive biography. A major consideration throughout this
biography has been to place the subject in the social and economic
framework of his time. This aim is followed most effectively, not only
in the chapters on overseas and internal trade but also in the account
of his participation in town government. Great Tooley is thus more than
a simple biography; it presents, with meticulous scholarship, an
illuminating picture of wider problems and developments in the early
As a footnote, glance across Foundation Street at the
multi-storey car park and imagine yourself there in the early 1960s
looking at the
houses (pictured below) parts of which survived from the 15th century.
belonged to the noted merchant, Portman, Ipswich Bailiff and MP,
Richard Felaw (see Street name derivations
and Felaw Street). He
bequeathed the houses to the nascent Ipswich Grammar School, endowing
it with lands at Whitton so that children of needy parents could
attend without paying fees. These new premises made it possible for the
school (now The Ipswich School) to take boarders, which it has
continued to do to this day. One of the first pupils to
benefit from Felaw’s endowment was
Thomas Wolsey, later Cardinal Archbishop
of York and Lord Chancellor of
England. In 1528, when at the height of his power, he created the
Cardinal’s College of Mary in Ipswich,
incorporating the School in the
foundation. He envisaged an institution of the same splendour as Eton
or Winchester, but the college was only half built when he fell from
power in 1530. The endowments were forfeited to the King and only one
of the gateways of the college now survives, next to St Peter’s Church
in the dock area.
Photographs courtesy The Ipswich Society
Image Archive (see Links).
Early 1960s; comparison photo below.
Above: Richard Felaw’s House in Foundation
Street shortly before demolition c.1963. The second photograph shows
the the southern part of the buildings
seen from School Street. The redbrick building at the left stands on
the east side of Foundation Street. All buildings here have gone. The
stacked wooden beer crates at the right were in the yard of the Unicorn
Brewery and just behind the photographer to the right would have stood
the school which gave the street its name: Christ's Hospital School. The
school moved to Wherstead Road in 1841. The significance of the School
Street photograph is that the remnants of the church of Blackfriars
Priory, which were first discovered by archaeologist Nina Frances
Layard in 1898, were fully uncovered here beside the south walls of the
Unicorn Brewery and the footway Blackfriars Walk created so that the
public can engage with the historic site: the only in situ monastic remains in Ipswich
– which, of course, had a number of monasteries.
The presence of the legend 'F.W.' – presumably 'Foot Way' – on the map
(below) indicates that
part, at least, of this pathway existed in 1902, emerging beside Martin & Newby's premises in Fore
Comparison photographs (2016)
Above: sequence of 2016 photographs of the Foundation Street frontage
NCP car park. 1. Rosemary Lane, now a narrow pathway, at
far left; the driveway down to the car park entrance barriers,
following the line of the proposed Ring-Road
dual carriageway in the
1960s. 2. Moving northwards, the view from behind two
entrance piers to Blackfriars Court, one with a missing ball finial.
Below: 3. The view roughly equivalent to the c. 1963
photograph from School Street (above). 4. The exit from the
car park with Wingfield Street curving round it to the right.
We see "Richard Felaw's House" (coloured blue here) fronting Foundation
running south from the corner with Little Wingfield Street. Today's
street layout is very different:-
1. The NCP multi-storey car park covers the footprint of the houses and
more. Richard Felaw's House – the late Dr John Blatchly points out that
only part of the building dated back to the 15th century – was
tragically demolished in the early 1960s to make way for the planned
carriageway Ring-Road which would have ploughed through many historic
buildings to carry traffic from today's Cromwell Square (once a dual
carriageway taking traffic from Civic Drive) round to Bond Street and
Crown Street, and on to St Matthews Street – part of which is still a
dual carriageway. The Ring-Road was mercifully never completed. It was
not until the 1980s that the car park block was built.
2. Little Wingfield Street has disappeared but the east-west section is
renamed Wingfield Street an extends to the north-south Wingfield Street
as shown on the 1902 map. The NCP car park covers and distorts the
southern part of this street so that it is little more than a footpath,
as is the eastern part of Rosemary Lane
which has been narrowed to a footpath and routed round the footprint of
the car park.
3. School Street, as described above, and Tooley Street with the
close-packed housing between them have all disappeared to be replaced
by a sheltered housing complex, Blackfriars Court which extends
eastwards to Lower Orwell Street. The thoroughfare, Blackfriars Court,
is on the site of Tooley Street as shown on the map. Today the
almshouses are bounded by Foundation Street, Smart
Street, Shire Hall Yard and Blackfriars Court.
Above left: this remarkable photograph comes from David Kindred's Kindred Spirit collection. We see
the rear of the Richard Felaw House, looking eastwards from Little
Wingfield Street in 1963, just before full demolition.
In the background is the Unicorn Brewery.
The comparison with the modern version of the same view shows the exact
relative position of these buildings.
See also our page on Wolsey's
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