Museum Street

40-42 Museum Street
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Frasers 4   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Frasers 52013 images
An even more decorative dated Edwardian frontage with the prominent date amid Palladian and deco features, obelisks and scrollwork:
'1905'
Ipswich Borough's Local List (see Links): "42 Museum Street (Booth and Mitchell coal factors and merchants)
The facade narrowing as it rises to a triangular pediment is based on Italian Renaissance churches. Decorative bands of intertwined plants are set between the fluted Ionic pilasters on the first floor and the pilasters on the second. On the first floor the panels are divided by devils/leprechauns in the metopes above the pilasters. 1905 in the cartouche under the pediment."
Bettley/Pevsner (see Reading list) credit this building to T.W. Cotman, who was also responsible for the Chelsea Building Society building further up Princes Street, The Crown and Anchor and Lloyds banking house on Cornhill.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: 1905a   Ipswich Historic Lettering: 1905b2016 images
A late October morning in 2016 with the sun low and raking shows this facade to great effect.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: 1905c
Mention of the '
devils/leprechauns in the metopes above the pilasters' in the Local List description prompts us to look more closely at these amusing grotesques, not noticed by many passers-by:
Ipswich Historic Lettering: 1905 demons

38 Museum Street
Incidentally, a few doors down Museum Street can be seen a large terra cotta version of the Ipswich coat of arms.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Museum Street crest 2
The above buildings are former Customs and Excise Offices. Customs and Excise were only combined in 1909, which must be the date of the present building. The coats of arms serve as a reminder that it was a National Service but that this branch was based in the Port of Ipswich. Customs and Excise was merged with the Inland Revenue in 2004.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Museum Street crest
The porch of number 38 Museum Street next door displays a large British royal coat of arms in stone. The Public Sculpture of Norfolk & Suffolk database (see Links) tells us:
"On the royal coat of arms: DIEU ET MON DROIT and HONI SOIT QUI MAL Y PENSE.
The curved pediment of the doorway is decorated with a striking royal coat of arms with a fierce lion."


Nearby in the pavement is an interesting manhole cover. Thick, obscure glass segments are set into a cast circular cover with the relief lettering:
'HAYWARD BROTHERS PATENT
SELF-LOCKING
UNION STREET BOROUGH LONDON'
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Museum Street crest 3

The 'R.C. Wrinch' lettering, 36 Museum Street – found!
These characters cut into the red brick exist somewhere around this Princes Street / Elm Street / Museum Street. Contributor to this website, Mike O'Donovan, included this intriguing image with others nearby in 2008, but he couldn't recall where he had found it.
R.C. Wrinch ARIBA(photograph courtesy Mike O'Donovan)
'R.C. WRINCH
A.R.I.B.A.
ARCHITECT
1906'
We walked around the whole area and couldn't identify the lettering, so left a request for information on this site. In November 2013 another friend of this website, Dr James Bettley (who had been working on an update of the Suffolk Pevsner volume, see Reading list) tipped us off that the lettering was at 36 Museum Street. However, even knowing the address, it isn't easy to spot. Working from a long shot of the corner building on Museum Street and Elm Street to the specific doorway...

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Museum Street Wrinch 4   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Museum Street Wrinch 3
... and there it is. Like a painter signing the corner of a canvas, or a sculptor inscribing the base of a sculpture, R.C. Wrinch, Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects, took the trouble to have the Suffolk reds chiselled out with condensed capitals, replete with delicate full stops.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Museum Street Wrinch 2   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Museum Street Wrinch 12013 images
It turns out that R.C. Wrinch was also the architect of St Helens Primary School, Woodbridge Road in 1913/14. Not a signed building, as far as we can see – but see our V.A. Marriott page for more on the school. (N.B. an Alfred Wrinch is listed as Mayor of Ipswich 1880-1881; one wonders if he was the architect's father?) 

Another 'signed' building similar to this is the nearby Britannic House in Princes Street (where you can also find the
'dated' former Fraser's building on the other side of Museum Street). Further up Museum Street is the Weslyan Chapel, with a lettered foundation stone, also the junction with Arcade Street.

See also
Lost Ipswich trade signs for Thomas Seckford's 'Great Place' in Westgate Street, destroyed during the cutting-through of Museum Street in the 1840s.



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