Spread Eagle, the Eagle Street Ogre
Standing proudly on the corner of Eagle Street and Fore Street...
The Spread Eagle public house stands on the
Eagle Street (naturally) and Fore Street. The modern 'frosted' sign on
this Grade II Listed*** building states that this is the "oldest
the Suffolk CAMRA site (see Links) dates it
to the 16th or 17th century ("The spread eagle was originally a Roman
sign and later used by many countries including Austria, Germany,
Russia, Spain & France. The sign is also used by many English noble
families. Its popularity as an inn sign owes a lot to the fact that it
was the device of Catherine of Aragon." See our Lady
Lane page for mention of Catherine of Arargon's visit to Ipswich in
1517.) The Old Bell over Stoke Bridge is also reputedly the oldest
pub in Ipswich, it is believed to date from the early 16th century and
was first recorded in 1639. The Spread Eagle is the last remaining
house of those which once stood on the four corners of this junction.
Photograph above right: to the right of the building with the spire in
the background is Lower Orwell Street.
***"A C16-C17 timber-framed and plastered building with exposed framing
on the upper storey with bracing from vertical member to vertical
member, a feature peculiar to East Anglia. The ground storey has been
underbuilt in brick. 2 storeys. 2 window range on the Fore Street front
and 2 window range on Eagle Street, casements with lattice leaded
lights. Roof tiled. The building has been restored and altered."
There is a Topal Tea vestigial sign in
The other face of the Spread Eagle carries
iron street nameplate with curved-section frame (unpainted), clamped
into place by the usual angled nails. If it wasn't for the superior 'T'
on this sign, we would all – given the tendency of humankind to
conflate and summarise in our minds – be referring to this street as
"FOREST'. "I'll see you at the top of Forest" might be a commonplace
phrase between Ipswich inhabitants.
Just opposite this street sign is
the site of the Martin & Newby
Fore Street, even though a modest length (and
disjointed), plays host to whole range of important historic
lettering: Meremayd, Fore Street Baths, Isaac Lord, The
Neptune Inn, the 1620 newsagent
See the Street name derivations page
for the source of the name.
The Ipswich Society exhibition and website
'The Fore Street Facelift 1961' tells much more of the street, its
surroundings and its history.
Opposite the Spread Eagle is an unusual Ipswich Borough Council street
nameplate featuring the colour coat of arms
in a raised half circle above the street name. Looking at the shadow in
the painted brickwork, this clearly replaced a larger, older sign. See
our Felixstowe Road page for the
Levington Road street nameplate of a similar configuaration.
our Parliament Road page for the street
nameplate round the corner in Upper Orwell Street. There is an oval water hydrant medallion
to the left beneath the window-sill as a bonus (see Street furniture
for an explanation).
Corner entrance spandrels
These photographs of the spandrels on the corner entrance – now blocked
were taken on the Heritage Open Days in 2015. They were at the end of
another period refurbishment and paint makeover for the public house.
In fact the public house was open for the first time in some time,
despite some work being unfinished. The carvings show at above left
(Eagle Street side) the better-defined carving of a 'Spread Eagle' with
The close-up shows more detail. It is thought that this area has
largely been left like this. There seems to have been a number of
layers of paint scraped off and possible a layer of gesso: the white
material which would cover up detail. The brown varnish appears to have
been applied recently.
This masonic double-headed eagle with chunky, splayed legs and
right-angled wings may have influenced the carving.
Compare with one of the spandrels on The Old
Street and its Ogre
Above: 11a/11 Eagle Street comparison photographs (13 Eagle Street is
at the far right). The early 20th century image is courtesy of Richard
McCrae who, with his wife Ellie, now runs the EDRM architectural
practice from 11a. The shop-front has changed somewhat at the left; the
butcher's premises are characterised by the grotesque moulding at the
upper right, just under the awning overhang. The modern view shows that
there have been changes to the facade with a timber door and doorcase
being reopened beneath the grotesque and the house front changed to a
shop. The two windows at the upper right (first floor level) are
largely unchanged. The bullocks in the left hand image were probably
assembled as a promotional photograph for the butcher's. However, Richard tells us that animals would have been
walked into Bond Street, through a side gate and down to an abbatoir
(which must have been quite small) behind the shop for despatch.
courtesy The Ipswich Society
The undated photograph of the Eagle Street Ogre on its keystone-shaped
base is from The Ipswich Society's Image Archive (see Links). The striking features are that the
butcher's shop awning overhang is still present; also that, directly
below the moulding, you can see a bricked-up doorway. The doorway of
no. 11 has since been opened up. There is a blue
plaque commemorating local historian John Glyde just next door at
no. 9; that shop will be remembered by many as the Samaritans bookshop.
Interestingly, there is a grotesque head high up on a former butcher's
shop facade at 39 Norwich Road. Both
faces emphasise distorted teeth – is there perhaps a tradition of
placing these features on butcher's shops? Perhaps it's merely a
coincidence confined to Ipswich. Some further research into the trades
operating from no. 11a Eagle Street will be of interest. The Public
Sculpture of Norfolk and Suffolk resource (see Links):
'A fearsome man, his red lipped mouth wide open to reveal fang-like
teeth, is set above the doorway of no. 11. It is difficult to
understand its function, a bit startling for a dentist, and if it was
intended to scare passers-by – why? Eagle street is a short narrow
street running east-west between Orwell and Bond streets. The house is
timber framed, but the present exterior probably dates from the 19th
Nos 9 and 11 are Listed Grade II but there is no mention of the Ogre...
'EAGLE STREET 1. 5379 Nos 9 and 11 TM 1644 SE 4/411 II GV The
description shall be amended to read: A timber-framed and plastered
building, C17 in 2 builds with C19 external features. 3 storeys. 4
window range, double-hung sashes with single vertical glazing bars in
the upper sashes. The ground storey has a small C19 shop front at No 9
and modern casements to No 11. Raised bands extend across the front
between the storeys. The ground storey is faced in brick (painted).
Roofs slate, hipped, with a modillion eaves cornice. No 11 has ground
floor plastered ceiling of lozenges within rectangle. 1st floor chamber
with ogee moulded plaster cornices, and lambs tongue stops to chamfered
axial beam. The list was previously amended in respect of this entry on
15 December 1977.
2. A timber-framed and plastered building with C19 external features. 3
storeys. 4 window range, double-hung sashes with single vertical
glazing bars in the upper sashes. The ground storey has a small C19
shop front at No 9 and modern casements to No 11. Raised bands extend
across the front between the storeys. The ground storey is faced in
brick (painted). Roofs slate, hipped, with a modillion eaves cornice.'
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Historic Lettering site: Borin Van Loon
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