1-5 and 4 College Street
1-5 College Street
By 2014, it is high time that we added these poor buildings to
this website. We were prompted by this email: "I found your website by
accident at the weekend. It is a thing of beauty. Coincidentally - I
have been living in "The Wolsey Apartments" since May this year - I
noticed something for the first time yesterday. Behind the scaffolding
on the derelict building opposite, the one connected to the Wolsey
Gate, I can see the following: 'BURTON, SON & SANDERS
LTD ESTD 1824'. I have searched through your site, I
haven't found a mention of this... is it worth me taking a photo from
my window? Kind regards, Jon Bryant"
One interesting feature of our town is the location,
cheek-by-jowl, of truly historic buildings and those in an
abused/neglected state. One example is Curson Lodge which stands
opposite to the site of the house (mansion) of Lord Curson which played
host to Katherine of Aragon, King Henry VIII himself and Cardinal
Thomas Wolsey. (In fact the last of those named took to the place so
much – and noting its proximity to his planned College – that he
decided he'd eject Lord Curson and have it as his own residence once
the College was
completed; see our pages on Wolsey's
Lodge and Lady
Lane for more.) The house which stands on part of the site of
Curson House now and particularly the rear of the property gives no
indication of the great historical imprtance of the location. A second
example can be found here in College Street. The intense industrial
character of the docklands in the nineteenth and twentieth
centuries contrasts with the important historic buildings in its midst.
The three dockland churches: St Peter to the west, St Mary-at-the Quay
in the centre and St Clement to the east are the most obvious, with
Wolsey's Gate, the Jewish Cemetery
and The Salthouse amongst others
surviving (just) in the smoke, noise, vibration and grime of foundries,
maltings, railways, horses, shipping, coal and grain movements with
Bristling with scaffold poles and patched up with
shuttering in 2014, it is almost impossible to see the building at 1-5
Street beneath. [UPDATE 23.1.2017: We could not find
lettering on this building which, we are told, once commemorated
flood levels, but Barry Girling, who grew up near the doscks, tells us
of "the metal discs that used to be attached to the front of Burton's
offices in College Street. They were oval shaped and of course recorded
the exceptional tide levels of the past. Somebody obviously more
mischievious than me has sadly stolen them." However, there are the
following signs to be seen:
And so to Jon Bryant's photographs:
images courtesy Jon
Twenty-first century Ipswich is, like much of Britain, a
post-industrial town. The factories and engineering works have gone,
the maltings are pubs and training centres, the manure factory is a
tower block of flats. So to College Street and the partial
modernisation of the Burtons factory site including the
brick-faced Wolsey Apartments, next to the red-coloured
Cardinal Lofts apartments. These overlook 1 to 5 College Street, the
former Burton, Son & Sanders offices. We think that this building
could be described as 'in a bit of a state', to put it kindly. Jons'
photographs show an unusual aspect which most of us don't see: a
three-quarter aerial view.
The close-up below shows that the sign can be glimpsed between the
boards and scaffold:
The bird's eye view taken by Jon also shows the decorative woodwork
around the dormer window:
Above the ground floor windows:
'BURTON, SON &
SANDERS LTD ESTD 1824'
photograph courtesy Simon Knott
These screwed-on type of
characters usually do not find their way onto this website, but the
resonance of the name in Ipswich – not to mention the sad state of the
remains of the Burtons factory on St Peter's Wharf – justify their
Simon Knott's remarkable photograph in the early morning sun shows the
lettering casting shadows against the red brickwork.
The Grade II Listing reads:
"A C18 red brick front, possibly to an earlier building, partly altered
in the C19 and C20. 2 storeys and attics. 12 window range overall (8
window range to the main block and 4 window range to an extension on
the east end) mainly double-hung sashes with glazing bars, in flush
cased frames. 3 of the windows on the 1st storey have shaped brick
heads and one is blocked. A raised brick band runs between the storeys.
The ground storey has been much altered in tile C19 and C20. The centre
part, of 4 window range, has a moulded brick entrance way with
pilasters and a dentilled cornice and panels. It has been bricked up
with C20 windows inserted. At the west end there is a wood doorcase
with panelled reveals, panelled pilasters and a pediment on carved
brackets. Roofs slate, with 2 C19 gabled dormers and a wood modillion
The Church of St Peter, the Gateway to Wolsey's College of St Mary, Nos
1 to 5 (odd) and No 4 form a group."
This site has been vacant since 1993, subjected to vandalism
than once and damaged by fire in early 2002. Temporary weatherproofing
was carried out in autumn 2004.
For more on the Burtons of Ipswich, click here.
The rear of the building is, to say the least, unprepossessing in 2014
(and for many years before), but is worth recording here.
[UPDATE 27.9.2016: well
into the restoration of the Burton, Son & Sanders offices we noted
the stripped down wood detailing on the door-case facing College
The work appeared to have come to a standstill by the end of
Burtons, The Wolsey Gate and the Church of St Peter
The Burton offices at 1-5 College Street are inextricably linked
to the much earlier, former watergate of the site of the great College
planned by Cardinal Wolsey which lasted barely two years (1528-30) –
not least by a modern brick section, the the curved wall which embodies
lettered plaque (shown on our Curson Lodge
page) about the red-brick gate . This
in turn is joined to the perimeter wall of the Church of St
Peter: seized, modified and intended by Wolsey to be used as the
of the College.
The 'smart face' of the wall – with the gateway,
a Registered Ancient Monument – fronts College Street
and turns by the side
gate into the St Peter churchyard with its pitched brick capping.
The stretch of wall, which can be seen best from the
raggle-taggle car park behind the Burton offices, running northwards to
the rear of the east wall of the church. The photographs, despite the
weeds and damaging buddleia
growth, show a magnificent pot-pourri of masonry, stone fragments,
brick and mortar. One wonders if some of these were
fragments taken from the dismantling of Wolsey's College.
The condition of the face of the Wolsey Gate in September 2014
is as good as it can be, given the wear, tear and erosion of hudreds of
years, because it had just been clothed in scaffold and netting during
a routine conservation check. It is worth looking at the detail of the
brickwork and 'abstract art' which is all that remains of the stone
coat of arms of Henry VIII between the
two niches (see our Curson Lodge page
for an engraving of the gate in better fettle).
4 College Street (Benet Aldred)
A 'lost' house of College Street in the chequered history of
this north-west corner of the Wet Dock was not included here because it
was believed not to bear any lettering. It crops up among Ipswich
photographers and enthusiasts, sometimes referred to as an inn,
sometimes with queries about its age, given its shuttered and grubby
appearance. Now Margaret Hancock, to whom our thanks, has sent an East Anglian Daily Times article by
Dr John Blatchly (22.1.2011):-
"Perhaps because until very recently it was dwarfed by large industrial
buildings, one Tudor house was overlooked completely, and it cries out
to be saved. It stands in College Street immediately south of St
Peter’s church, and on the bressummer beam below the north gable there
is the date AN[N]O 1590, and in the centre there is B over A, a
merchant’s mark giving away the initials of the owner. There were three
generations of Benet (or Benedict) Aldred (or Aldryche) in St Peter’s
parish between 1564 and 1629, when the third and last of them made his
will. The first, involved in a law suit in 1564, was probably the
father of the man who built the house. It was his grandson who made a
will in 1629, leaving his ‘whole estate to my loveinge wife Ann Aldred
during her natural life’. It continues ‘I give and bequeath to my sonne
John Aldred that part of the hoy called The Pelycan of Ipswich and ten
poundes for a stocke’ [meaning one full cargo to start him in
business]. In the 1620s the last Benet Aldred traded in coal from
Newcastle and fuller’s earth from Rochester in three hoys delightfully
named (and spelt) The Primerose,
The Blessinge and The Pelycan.
This early photograph from the 1890s shows a
College Street/St Peters
Street road junction almost unrecognisable to us in the twenty-first
century. However, the house at 4 College Street gives us a clue; we can
also see what the long-vanished number 2 College Street looked like: a
corner shop front on the ground floor with a jettied first floor
similar tonumber 4.
The site is occupied by a curving wall which once held the cast iron Bridge Street street nameplate, next to
the slip-road to Stoke Bridge now.
The wall to the extreme right on the 1890s photograph is that
surrounding the Church of St
Peter. One subtle difference between the ancient and the
modern images concerns the ground level. On the black-and-white
photograph the threshold step into the house can be seen with a
rendered 'skirt' rising about 18 inches from the pavement (a slightly
deeper feature is at the foot of the adjoining brick wall, nearest to
the camera – it seems that this wall still stands today). On the 2014
photograph the ground level is noticeably higher and the doorway
noticeably lower. Does this mean that that, having stooped, someone
entering the house by this door would step down into the interior?
Below is a sequence of close-ups of the beam working from left
to right (some overlap); the date is to the right, slightly enhanced
We think that one would really need to use a
ladder/scaffolding/inspection lift to inspect the unassuming decorative
beam for the 'BA' merchant's mark.
In 2014, there is hope that this valuable and ancient survivor,
so close to the historically significant Stoke river crossing, can be
restored and used once again.
The Grade II Listing text reads: "A C16-C17 timber-framed and
plastered house with a cross wing at the west end. The fenestration is
C18. 2 storeys and attics, the upper storey is jettied on the whole
front supported on curved brackets. The cross wing is at a slightly
higher level than the main block. The gable to the cross wing also
projects slightly on a carved bressumer. 3 window range, double-hung
sashes, in flush case frames; the windows on the 1st storey have single
vertical glazing bars (one is a casement window), those on the ground
storey have glazing bars. 2 windows in the crosswing are original. Roof
tiled, with one gabled dormer. The Church of St Peter, the gateway to
Wolsey's College of St Mary, Nos 1 to 5 (odd) and No 4 form a group."
4 College Street illustration
Some commentators assume that number 4 College Street was once a public
house… it has that sort of look; however there is, we understand, no
evidence that the house was ever a pub.
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throughout the Ipswich
Historic Lettering site: Borin Van Loon
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