Neptune Inn clock, courtyard and interior

The Neptune Inn clock
A couple of pieces of hidden Neptune Inn history have been sent in by Phil Snowden.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Neptune clock 1   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Neptune clock 2
19.6.2014: “A few years ago I bought a clock which was thought to be from the Neptune Inn, Ipswich. Measuring 41inches across, it is enormous and heavy and only the dial and surround part are left. It is on its second movement which has scratched on it 'G.Adams for J.Haskell 1950' who I believe are still in Tavern Street. When I took the movement out, on the back of the wooden dial it says in capitals 'NEPTUNE INN'. The original movement would have had a weight, so there would have been a bottom part of the clock, probably with a maker's name on it, to let the weight drop lower without being tampered with, and to give a longer running time. But the 50s movement is a fusee which has no weight. So the bottom drop was removed and the hole for the weight filled in. I would date this clock at about 1740. It would have been called a Tavern Clock and I can  imagine  all those pirates viewing it whilst on the lash. I love this clock and the look of the fabulous building it was made for...
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Neptune clock 4All photographs courtesy Phil Snowden
... The 1950s replacement Victorian movement with all the details of who put it in for the shop in Tavern Street. The guy had to hack the back of the dial out to fit it, and look at the pieces of thermometer plate he used to fix it to the dial. The back of the dial has traces of where a seat board was for the original movement to sit on. This is a very unusual shape for a tavern clock but the case wood has been looked at and it's early 18th century. Regards, Phil Snowden.”
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Neptune clock 5   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Neptune clock 6

Neptune Antiques event
Phil also sends this undated photograph of the courtyard garden behind the Neptune, which we recall as Neptune Antiques which used to have open days for potential customers. Perhaps this photograph is of such a sunny day.
Many thanks to Phil for his contributions.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Neptune garden

Interior and courtyard of The Old Neptune Inn in summer 2016
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Neptune 1   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Neptune 22016 images
Above: large fireplace and linenfold panneling. Below: the main entrnace hall looking towards the rear courtyard  from behind the front door; also view down the staircase from the Galleon Room showing the porthole window visible at the extreme left of the building frontage on our Isaac Lord page.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Neptune 3   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Neptune 5  

The Galleon Bedroom: fonts in excelsis
'History. In the days when high water barges off-loaded the ground floor from a now filled-in creek, this room was used as a counting house. It was totally derelict until restored in the mid-1900s when the room’s leaning walls were lined with 19th century wooden printer’s blocks and the angled windows were restored to resemble those of seafaring vessels of a bygone age.' (taken from the information sheet in the room).

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Neptune 7   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Neptune 8
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Neptune 6   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Neptune 9
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Neptune 14   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Neptune 15
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Neptune 11   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Neptune 12
Below: carved posts in the stair-wells.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Neptune 13   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Neptune 17
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Neptune 16   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Neptune 18
The courtyard garden. Below: the Galleon Bedroom wing with its leaning walls. In the background the rear wall of the former John Good mill building, partially covered with Virginia creeper, and the grey extension wall of the Salthouse Harbour Hotel. The creek dug from the old Ipswich dockside (pre-Wet Dock in 1842) would have come through the John Good site to provide a private quay near the present courtyard.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Neptune 4   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Neptune 10
Two heads in relief can be found at The Old Neptune including a horned, fork-bearded, smiling satyr high on the gable and a grotesque head set into the interior brickwork. It is likely that the latter fragment was found elsewhere and built into the wall at a recent date.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Neptune 19   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Neptune 20
Below stone arches (with lion heads on the keystones) form a sort of cloister beside the courtyard; a timber dovecote has been built into the weather-boarded gable. These features are shown in an illustration in George Bodley Scott's self-published booklet documenting his restoration of the site; not shown in the photographs here, but still present is the ship's figurehead. The 1970 booklet can be downloaded on the Ipswich Society website (see Links) under the sub-sections Fore St Facelift\History\Neptune.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Neptune 21   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Neptune 22
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Neptune 23
George Bodley Scott (1911-1977) was the Managing Director of W. S. Cowell Ltd, based in Market Lane/Butter Market in the centre of the town and renowned in its day for excellence in printing, reproduction, fine inks and papers. Founded in 1818, the Ipswich firm of W. S. Cowell Ltd ('The Press in the Butter Market') grew into one of the leading British printers, known for its high-quality catalogue work.
The 15th/early 16th century merchant’s ‘hall house’ (the later Fore Street frontage bear a date, '1639') had a chequered history up to 1947 when Scott purchased the dilapidated buildings and of the later restoration, much of it carried out by the owner himself. In 2016, the suite of buildings is hired out for accommodation and special occasions.
One tiny detail in the text is the account of an inlet from the river was dug which came up to a quay beside the colonnaded open lower floor on the east side of today’s courtyard. This would fit with the pattern found at the Isaac Lord complex at 80 Fore Street, where a grand merchant’s house fronting Fore Street was connected to warehouses and maltings down to Wherry Quay. So loading and unloading of vessels and carts, processing of raw materials, buying and selling and so on took place under the gaze of the master. The John Good & Sons (GCB) Ltd, British Oil & Cake Mills building blocks a view of the dock from The Old Neptune. If the original merchant had his own quay (presumably having a removable bridge on the quayside) he would not have needed buildings right down to the water; or some other structures might have stood there.


Return to Isaac Lord / Fore Street page.


Home

Please email any comments and contributions by clicking here.

2004 Copyright throughout the Ipswich Historic Lettering site: Borin Van Loon
No reproduction of text or images without express written permission