This tiny street embodies Ipswich history as no other.
Dog-legging from Princes Street to Friars Street it carries part of its
historical significance in its road surface made up of, not
cobblestones, but small paving 'setts' of limestone. This name refers
to what we see
in Coytes Gardens and in no others in the town: cut hardstone blocks
laid in lines, including a (slightly off) central gutter. Muriel Clegg
suggests that this gutter, which predates side-gutters, indicates an
early date for the surface. Cobbles would
cheaper and picked off the surrounding fields: rounded stones of
varying size and shape to form a very bumpy surface; they are used in
modern times to infill former grass verges and building surrounds where
pedestrians are not encouraged – they are uncomfortable to walk on.
For more on paving in Ipswich see Clegg, M.: The way we went (Reading
Below: the view from Princes Street.
Coyte's Gardens was once famous for its stamp-collector's shop which
for many years occupied the site shown above, it is now a sandwich shop.
Dr William Beeston
'Coyte's Gardens' should perhaps be 'Beeston's Gardens' as it
commemorates Dr William Beeston (1671-1732) who was, wrote Daniel
Defoe, "exquisitely skilled in botanic knowledge". Forty-seven years
after his death, his noted physic
garden is marked 'Dr Coyte' on the Pennington
1778 as an extensive area just north of Boat Lane (its only surviving
part is more-or-less today's Friars Street). The garden was divided at
this time by Thursby's Lane and reached as far west as Curriers
Lane. There were shrubberies
marked out by paths and places to sit and enjoy the diverse range of
rare and exotic plants. Places, too, for Dr Beeston to contemplate the
storm he had whipped up by championing inoculation. When in 1724 he
inoculated three people, he was subjected to vociferous protest from
those who believed that far from preventing the onset of disease
(especially the dreaded plague) it actually caused it. In response Dr
Beeston suggested that his accusers, whom he called the 'bigotted high
Churchmen' and 'Dissenters' who had stirred up the trouble, use reason
on the subject. The accusers sentenced to 'damnation' all who were
concerned in the 'heathenish practice' of inoculation. However, Dr
Beeston's example inspired Robert Sutton to do smallpox inoculation
trials and he advertised in The
Ipswich Journal that he had hired a house for the 'reception of
persons who are disposed to be inoculated'.
Dr Beeston's was typical of the many such gardens which
around the town in the 17th and 18th centuries. Topographer John Kirby
(1690–1753) noted that "most of the better Houses, even in the Heart of
the Town, have convenient Gardens adjoining to them, which make them
more airy and healthy, as well as more pleasant and delightful".
Although it is difficult to imagine in today's overcrowded
central Ipswich, one assumes that large gardens attached to substantial
houses and mansions in the town centre showed off the owners' wealth
and social standing.
Pennington's map of 1778 (above) shows the
physic garden, then owned by 'Dr Coyte' to the left of the word 'Queen'
– top centre – with a narrowing entrance into Queen Street and bordered
by Thursby's Lane to the west and Boat Lane to the south. The many
gardens in the town centre are visible. The 'Dissenters Meetg Ho.',
today's Friends Meeting House is shown at bottom centre
and is an indicator of the position of today's Willis building.
Dr William Beeston Coyte
The remainder of the lane that is today's Coytes Gardens once
ran through Dr Beeston's garden. At his death the good doctor willed
his garden to his nephew, Dr William Coyte the younger (d. 1775)
sister Frances' son. Coyte's garden was carefully tended, and a
catalogue of its contents was published by him as Hortus Botanicus Gippovicensis, or a
systematical enumeration of the Plants cultivated in Dr. Coyte's
Botanic Garden at Ipswich, published in 1796, followed by an Index Plantarum, 1807. Dr Coyte
died in 1810 and his daughter sold the property for development in
1824. It was considered 'most eligible' for building plots and by 1837
there were twenty-eight houses. By the 1850s, however, this was reduced
to twenty when Princes Street was cut
through and the road was paved with broken stone. It was Dr Coyte
rather than Dr Beeston who was freshest in the memory when the byway
was named in 1878. A memorial to Dr Coyte and his two wives and three
children was erected in St Nicholas Church by their grandson, William
Information taken from Twinch, C.: Ipswich
street by street (see Reading List).
Above: the view of Friars Street; the street nameplate on that corner.
A learned research paper by Dr John Blatchly and Jenny James: The Beeston-Coyte Hortus Botanicus
Gippovencis and its printed catalogue was published by the
Suffolk Institute of History and Archaeology (see Links) in 1999.
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throughout the Ipswich
Historic Lettering site: Borin Van Loon
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