(just visible: see the enhancement below) lettered
either side of the
displaying the white architect's sign.
Isaac Lord buildings, The Salt Office,
Fore Street (Neptune Inn & 'E.J. Owles')
At the dock end of Wherry Lane ('Wherry Quay' where the Wherry Inn once
stood) we find:
courtesy The Ipswich Society
Above right: the building in 1983. This lettering has been
obscured by ivy growth in recent years.
The close-up comes from 2014:
image courtesy Tim
Below: 'ISAAC LORD.' is prominently
at the Salthouse
Street end of Wherry Lane above and to the
Cannon as bollard
The cast iron bollards on Wherry Lane are joined by an
unusual companion: an upended cannon:
[UPDATE September 2017: quite
inexplicably, this delightful maritime remnant has been removed and
replaced by modern steel bollards. What
happened to this idiosyncratic relic? Let's hope that it's not been
sold for scrap metal...]
[UPDATE 14 November 2017:
Thanks to a tip-off by John Norman, the cannon has been found. Rescued
by the staff of Isaac's, the cannon now has a fine timber carriage and
is displayed in the corner of the large courtyard/bar area of the
entertainment complex. The photographs below indicate that a
surprisingly large portion on the cannon barrel was buried in the
ground. Apparently, a car hit the corner of Wherry Lane while
travelling southwards down Salthouse Street, demolishing the bollards
and uprooting the cannon.
The text of the Isaac's information board:-
‘Old Napoleonic Cannons Used As
This can’t be. Metal is a precious commodity and why would such a
laudable large piece of metal be so casually used as street furniture.
Well, with a little but of research, we found the answer and, yes, it’s
true, they were.
Valuable captured Cannons were indeed scrapped by the British navy
following the Napoleonic Wars*. As a result of political lobbying by
the arms industry it seems that the armaments manufacturers were
worried that the government would reuse the captured cannons for its
own military forces, and hence the firms wouldn’t be able to sell more
cannons to the government. After representations to the government it
was agreed that the loss of business would close several companies and,
as a healthy arms industry was (and still is) considered to be vital to
national security, parliament agreed to scrap the French cannons.
So, in order to save the British arms industry, hundreds of valuable
cannons were unceremoniously taken over by local authorities for street
If you look at modern bollards, many are copies of old cannons with a
cannon ball on top. The word bollard comes from French – meaning short
stump used for tying boats alongside piers and jetties.’
photograph courtesy John Norman
The original Ipswich Maritime Trail
'In Wherry Lane look out for the sarsen stone (a large piece of
sandstone, dredged from the river-bed) and an old cannon used as a
bollard. Both are to prevent damage to the walls by horse drawn
wagons catching the corner of the building. There are traces of
the original cobble paving. On the east side of the lane is a
warehouse, today an art gallery, probably of 18th century extended in
the 19th towards the quay.' Sadly by 2017 the original cobbles and the
cannon-as-street furniture (although two of the new bollards are
cannon-like) have been lost. A quirky corner of Ipswich destroyed.
By 2017 the warehouse in the foreground and the new extension
which stands on the site of the old Wherry Inn – hence the name of the
quay here – are all linked into the Isaac's complex. The Salthouse Hotel is in the background.
Isaac's IMT plaque
The not-easy-to-photograph plaque sits high on the wall beneath
the kiln vent, in 2017 partially obscured by a giant umbrella.
17c MALT KILN
PART OF TUDOR MERCHANT'S
PREMISES IN FORE STREET
TRAIL CAST BY CRANE LTD'
See our plaques
page for the full set of ten Ipswich Society Maritime
Ipswich 1982 plaques.
The final Isaac's building on the quayside: the warm Suffolk reds
on the face of the ancient
discoloured above, set off the white lettering: 'ISAAC LORD.' (with
full stop); next door is the former maltings: the
Malt Kiln pub (renamed at various times "Cobbold's", "The Vodka Bar"
and most recently when the whole complex was being opened up to the
The photograph above shows the whole rake of
back to the merchant's house on Fore Street. The gabled end of the
crossway (see here for more information)
A 2013 photograph of this area can be seen on our John Good page.
The Isaac Lord merchant's house
80 Fore Street
The row of buildings above is the Neptune Cafe, The Old
Neptune Inn, unknown building, entrance to Salthouse Hotel and the
Lord building. Above right: the Fore Street facade of the Isaac Lord
buildings (facing The
Nelson pub) which dates back to the time of merchant Henry Tooley (died
of Tooley's Almshouses in Foundation
Steet. The image on the right is from 2011 after the fascade had a
facelift; the 'Salthouse' sign on the next door gates can be seen,
indicating a hazardous goods entry for the hotel fronting the Wet Dock
(see John Good & Sons).
Typically, the photograph was taken in a tiny gap in the speeding
The Key Street/Star Lane dual race-tracks which currently cut off the
Wet Dock from the main
part of the town have much to answer for. Not least, the ignorance of
(including us until the Heritage Open Days in 2002 when these
photographs were taken) about this gem.
Street was a bustling dockland street in the heyday of shipping at the
Dock. Wool and grain by the cartload, Gascon wine and Icelandic cod,
and sailors and all that came with them: pubs, brothels, pawnbrokers
such as Sneezums further up Fore Street, extreme
and wealthy merchants' houses. The ideal spot for your dwelling was
fronting Fore Street, so that you could show off your status by
carved bressummer (see the definition at
the foot of this web page) beams (these examples
situated above and below the timbered section at left of the frontage.
An original frontage was truncated in the seventeenth century and the
present jettied frontage erected. These
Tudor merchants' houses could then be linked to warehouses, and - later
- granaries and
stretching right down to the quayside. The merchant could keep an eye
his workers – and his ships coming in – and live not above, but in
of the shop. Here are the numerals and lettering carved and highlighted
in the bressummers:
Sadly, researchers into the history of Isaac Lord's are
worthy whose initials are 'H.W.F.', though '1636' is certainly the date
of erection of this frontage. On the other side of the archway into the
is a more modest house facade, which was also owned by the Cooper
on this side revealed that an internal beam was felled in the spring of
1478 and so
date of erection was about 1480. This, in 2002, was claimed to be the
surviving and inhabited
dwelling house in the town (although now that the Cooper family have
moved out, we don't know if the smaller house is occupied). Older
than The Ancient House - the core of
oldest part of that building is the 'Chapel Room' leading off the art
Kitchenware - and older than The Sun Inn
(more recently Atfield &
bookshop) in St Stephens Lane, another fine old building lovingly
restored by the owner family. It is arguable that Pykenham's Gatehouse
opposite the County Library in Northgate
(built in 1471 and famous for its Tudor brick front: all that is
the former Archdeacon's Palace) has an earlier claim. But is it a
Also the cottages behind St Mary at Elms
lay claim to this title: still inhabited and built in 1487.
For a nearby dated bressummer, see The
Captain's Houses page.
For other dated bressummers in this part of Fore Street see '1639'
(Neptune Inn, below) and 1620 above
the newsagents at number 132-4. See below also
for two further dated timbers from the
Ipswich Museum store.
See our plaques page for the
full set of ten Ipswich Society Maritime Ipswich
It was only in April 2012 that we noticed
the nameplate, numeral
(80 or 80a?) and bell-pull to the left of the cart entrance.
Compare with the lettering on the external water pump in the nearby
yard here. Incidentally, the surface
inside the gates is composed of end-on wooden blocks; this was to
muffle the noise of metalled cart-wheels when they were moved in and
out of the yard, so as not to disturb the members of the merchant's
household of a nervous disposition. Similar blocks can also be seen in
the cartway beneath the Crossway on the
farther side of the yard.
The Salt Office
The above map comes from G.R. Clarke's History (see Reading
List) so is pre-1830; rotating it through 90 degrees makes it
easier to understand. It shows the 'Road from the Fore Street to the
Common Quay' (now known as Salthouse Street, the short S-shaped street
linking Fore and Key Streets). The Salt Office is shown in blue,
abutting the dockside. The importance of the salt trade to Ipswich is
shown by the street name and the office. Much of the salt brought into
the town came from the Tyne; North and South Shields formed the
greatest centre in Britain for salt manufacture in the early eighteenth
century, with almost 200 saltpans in which seawater was evaporated
using the cheap local coal. Salt from the Cheshire salt mines was also
brought in here from the Mersey, the rock salt being used mainly for
cattle saltlicks and by tanners for the preservation of hides.
Wherry Lane is visible on the map ('Lane to the Wherry Inn') running
down to the dock. Hog('s) Lane at the upper left no longer exists.
Above: a detail from a map of
the area dating from 1881. The purple section is the suggested position
of the Isaac Lord buildings complex today with the section over the
cart entrance on Fore Street not quite matching the plans of the
structures on the map and a supposed position of the crossway saleroom
halfway down. The Neptune Inn is clearly shown with the Lord Nelson
marked as 'P.H.' on the opposite side of the road and near to the
junction with Salthouse Street. Two other 'P.H.' labels indicate that a
pub once stood right on the corner which ironically later was the site
of a 50s/60s style branch of Lloyds Bank and which in 2013 is a micro
brewery. Money and alcohol: two themes intimately entwined with the
history of the Wet Dock and its populous. The 'P.H.' on the waterfront
to the east of the Isaac Lord building would be The Wherry Inn which
gave its name to Wherry Lane which runs northwards to a Smithy and
neighbouring building which are long demolished. Just west of the three
other buildings which remain on the quay in this detail is The Custom House. At
the far upper left of this detail is the corner of
the 'Jews Burial Ground' as it is is labelled in 1881. This tiny walled
scrap of history can still be found, today in the middle of a car park.
Above: the modern picture showing the Listed buildings in the vicinity
The Isaac Lord story continues
for even more on this unique complex of buildings.
The Old Neptune Inn, 86-88 Fore Street
The former Neptune Inn lies a few doors away
from Isaac Lord's. It similarly had a range of buildings running down
to the quay but these were
sold off at some time. The period picture above shows the tremendous
use of painted lettering when the building was a public house. As it
ceased to be a pub in 1936, this image must predate that. The close-ups
show the large date '1639' painted either side
of bracket below the eaves with a decorative font and frame and the
brewer's name and products above the ground floor window. The
delightful use of the small 'AND' inside curving parallel lines give it
a flourish, despite the unnecessary full stop at the end. Sadly, all is
gone except the tarnished metal plate inn sign (enhanced image below
shows a cloaked Neptune with horse at lower left).
Originally built in1490, a wealthy wool merchant extended the house and
added two floors in 1639.
Here is a view of the inn sign from a 1961 film sponsored by The
Ipswich Society (see Links) showing it in
much better condition:
The back of the inn is even older supporting
the view that a merchant's house has existed on this site for many
hundreds of years. Once a centre for paying off dockworkers on a
Saturday night, after its days as a pub, the Neptune was a workplace,
then it was bought in 1947 and restored as a home by George Bodley
a director of W.S. Cowell Ltd, an important printer in the town with
between Buttermarket and Falcon Street. It was later Neptune Antiques.
The '1639' date is carved above the
first storey widows; it is difficult to make this out from the
particularly with a bright sky behind the building profile. Below left:
some of the decorative carving; below right: the dated beam. We only
managed to capture the carved date by pointing a camera upwards and
enhancing the images (it's in a rectangular frame at the upper left of
See below for two further
dated timbers from the Ipswich Museum store.
See our plaques page for the
full set of ten Ipswich Society Maritime Ipswich
The rather handsome Neptune Inn front door, with its carved timber
spandrels – hard to photograph without stepping into fast-moving
traffic – has a doorbell which echoes a former incarnation as 'NEPTUNE
The carved spandrels of the doorcase show a grotesque face and a
bird (compare with the Spread Eagle
For much more on The Old
Neptune, see Neptune
clock, garden and interior. Included here are a set of 2016
photographs of the complex, now used as accomodation for events and
'The building is still to be seen in the parish of
Saint Clements, a locality which once held a tremendous wealth of
domestic architecture. The rear of the premises, formerly abutting on
to the River Orwell, is the oldest portion of the structure while the
front dates from the 1560s with additions later in 1639.' The engraving
is from Frederick Russel and Wat Hargreen's Picturesque Antiquities of Ipswich
(published in Ipswich, 1845).
The Ipswich Society website (see Links) features the Fore Street Facelift
1961 section which includes a page of information on The Old
Neptune in the 'History' section.
Here you will be able to download a PDF of the 1970 booklet about The
Old Neptune published by George Bodley Scott and printed, of course, by
For other early dates carved into the fabric of
Ipswich buildings, try the newsagent's
further up Fore Street ('1620'), The
Houses ('1631') in nearby Grimwade Street, 6
St Helens Street ('1636') and The
Old Cattle Market ('1620').
E. J. Owles, Chemist 97 Fore Street – The
Chemist Who Never Worked In Ipswich...
At number 97 Fore Street, almost opposite the
Lord frontage, is a
from the days when this was the bustling heart of the town and
proprietors were proud to display their names and trades on frosted
glass shop doors. In 2002 this was the Labour Party Eastern Region
'E. J. OWLES
2013 images with decorative border
and a pestle and mortar motif is
displayed in curly decorative font, the name curving round the motif
and the frosted background following that curve. The word: 'Chemist' is
even more complex, with the characters showing dark in the photograph
in clear glass at the top and frosted within a thin clear outline below
the central decorative motif. The third photograph shows that
this double-fronted shop with its curved top windows would have been
quite an impressive emporium. Apart from the 'Jugs' frosted door on the
Duke of York public house on Woodbridge
during refurbishment, there is the 'Glasses
Only' frosted glass door of The Old Bell
Inn on the corner of Vernon
Street and Stoke Street as the only frosted glass lettering examples in
the town. One point of interest, drawn to our attention by Colin
Gostling in 2014, is that we misread the name of the proprietor and for
many years have been listing it here as 'E. Jowles', even though the
second full stop is there for all to see. But see the update below...
22.11.2017: 'I have in my possession a copper printing plate (165x70mm)
for an invoice header. This was found by my grandmother behind a
stove at Jackson's Chemist Shop (The door now says "Owles" being a
replacement) in Fore Street during the 1920 to 1960 period. My
grandfather had bought the business from Mrs Jackson and spent his
working life there as a chemist and poor man's doctor. The decorative
script in a variety of type faces surround a seated Chinese merchant,
pagoda, palm ? trees, sailing ship and oriental goods for export. I
believe the date to be c1840. I don't believe Owles had anything to do
with the property, I suspect the original door was broken and the Owles
door came from a salvage yard. My grandfather Brinley Davies and his
son Evan had the shop until the early 1970s(?); I think the next
occupant was the Labour Party. My mother is still alive and confirms
this. She well remembers sleeping under the dining table there as
protection from the German bombs !! Charles Simpson.' Many thanks to Charles for this image
obtained from the printing plate which reads:
Bot. [Bought] of C. Barker,
GROCER, TEA DEALER, & SHIP CHANDLER.
Cheese & Butter Warehouse.
Hops, Fruits, Spices, Coffee &c.'
One assumes that this might have been a previous business at the
address before it became Jackson's Chemist. Charles Barker (sometimes
Baker) is listed in local directories 1839-1855 at St. Clements, Fore
Charles has discovered: 'Mr. E. J.
Owles, Ph.C, has removed his
business from 55 Trafalgar Road, Greenwich, London, S.E., to No. 24 in
the same thoroughfare. The former premises are to be pulled down and
rebuilt.' This must surely make this shop-door the best travelled of
Thomas Eldred's house
Just around the corner of 97 Fore Street - to the
immediate right of the
long view below - is a metal 'Maritime Ipswich 1982' plaque (cast by
Crane Ltd) telling us that this was the site of the house of
Thomas Eldred (1561–1624), circumnavigator of the world. See below for
line and wash drawing of the house. Eldred
was an Ipswich merchant and mariner who sailed with Thomas Cavendish
(1555- 92, also of Suffolk) on the second English circumnavigation of
1586-88. Sir Francis Drake's voyage 1577-80 was the first. Certain features of the house were saved during demolition
and incorporated into 'The Upper Chamber' in Christchurch Mansion. Eldred was also
celebrated at 97 Cedarcroft Road, Castle
Hill in Ipswich
by a public house of the same name; this was demolished in 2012.
Cavendish was born in 1560 at Trimley St Martin near Ipswich. His
father was William Cavendish, a descendant of Roger Cavendish, brother
to Sir John Cavendish from whom the Dukes of Devonshire and the Dukes
of Newcastle derive their family name of Cavendish (see Cavendish Street).
Interestingly, a few yards to the east from this plaque is the site of
a house owned by Thomas Cavendish, so perhaps the
fellow-circumnavigators were neighbours. An Esso petrol station which
once occupied a demolition plot until the building of Minerva Court at
number 101 in 2004, was the site of the house owned by Cavendish.
Photographs of the filling station and surrounding buildings in 1961
can be seen in the 'Fore Street Facelift '61' section of the Ipswich
Society website (see Links). The engraving
above is from Frederick Russel and Wat Hargreen's Picturesque Antiquities of Ipswich
(published in Ipswich, 1845): 'The house no longer exists but the
gabled post was of particular interest with a full length figure of
Elizabeth I on one side and a male figure in armour on the other.
Tradition assigned the house to Thomas Cavendish, the Elizabethan
voyager who perished in the Straits of Magellan in 1592.'
For other named chemist's premises see Symonds
for a chimney
sign and Hales Chemist for a doorstep
Tony Hill saved a set of unpainted castings of the Maritime
Ipswich plaques, one of which is shown above. Crane
Ltd made a spare
set which have been used for research by the Ipswich Society.
See our plaques page for the
full set of ten Ipswich Society Maritime Ipswich
Eldred's house, now demolished
Architectural feature – the
a timber beam originally breast-summer
(pronounced 'bressumer'). A summer or girder extending
across a building flush with, and supporting, the upper part of a front
or external wall; a long lintel; a girder. The difference between a
bressumer beam and a lintel: a bressumer beam carries loads from
above but has no
window or door below it. Therefore its allowable deflection (long term
or short loads) can be greater. A lintel on the other hand has a window
or door below it and requires less deflection to ensure that the
operation of the window/door is not compromised. A breastsummer is a
beam; the word summer derives from sumpter or
French sommier, "a pack horse", meaning "bearing great burden or
Dated timbers from the Ipswich
Photographs courtesy Ipswich Museum
This beam was taken from 98 Fore Street (along with a number of other
timber features) before demolition. Its original date of '1651',
the numerals standing in relief was changed changed from to '1771'
by chiselling off the 'six' and 'five' and fixing two metal
'sevens' over the top. One assumes that the frontage was refreshed in
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throughout the Ipswich
Historic Lettering site: Borin Van Loon
No reproduction of text or images without express written permission