Coytes Gardens
(see the 2017 update at the bottom of the page)

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 specifically 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 have been 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 list).

Below: the view from Princes Street.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Coytes 1   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Coytes 2
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 map of 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 were dotted 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.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Coytes Gardens map 17781778 map
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 (1741?–1810), his 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 Coyte Freeland.

Information taken from Twinch, C.: Ipswich street by street (see Reading List).
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Coytes 3   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Coytes 4
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.

[UPDATE 16.7.2017: Oh dear. The Highways Authority (Suffolk County Council) has seen fit to rip up all the limestone setts, destroying the middle gutter. They have apparently reused as many of the original blocks as they could – the yellow parking line paint can be seen dotted about in the new surface – and created a cambered roadway with side gutters. Thus we lose a last vestige of the first attempts to pave the streets of Ipswich.  Presumably a number of blocks were broken in the process, this is reflected in the extension of block paviours deep into Coytes Gardens from the Princes Street end. This pair of comparison photographs highlight what some are calling 'corporate vandalism'.]
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Coytes Gardens comparison 12013 & 2017 images
Above: the view to the south with Falcon Street at the end. Below: the view of Coytes Gardens from Princes Street with the loss of the setts here dramatically shown.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Coytes Gardens comparison 2
2013 & 2017 images
See also our Friars Bridge Road page.



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2004 Copyright throughout the Ipswich Historic Lettering site: Borin Van Loon
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