Museum Street / Seckford's 'Great Place'
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Museum Street sign2015 image
15 Museum Street, with its very attractive arched windows and triangular pediments in Suffolk white brick, bears this street nameplate: 'MUSEUM ST.'. One assumes that the plate was removed during brick cleaning, then remounted using edge-clips, as the plate bears no fewer than nine screw holes from previous fixing. It is accompanied by a plastic Town Trail sign (does this still exist?).

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:
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.
Thomas William Cotman (1847-1925) trained at Ipswich Art School and set up an office in Cutler Street in 1869, then at 7 Northgate Street in 1883. He designed buildings mainly in Ipswich and Felixstowe, having retired there in 1913. See our Felixstowe page for more on Cotman.
John Shewell Corder,  probably the best known local architect of the early 20th century, designed 40 Museum Street, a two-storey office building in 1922; red brick with stone dressings, occupied for a time by the Halifax Building Society. For more on Corder, see our Ancient House and Scarborow pages.
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."

See also our Princes Street page for the Frasers building which takes up much of the other side of the road here.

Nearby in the pavement is an interesting coal-hole cover. Thick, obscure glass segments are set into a cast circular cover with the relief lettering:
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Museum Street crest 3
Founded in 1848, Hayward Brothers was a leading manufacturer of this sort of cast street furniture and was London’s largest manufacturer of coal-hole covers when every household burnt the fuel for heating and hot water. The company ceased trading n the 1970s. The introducton of pavement lights was  designed to shed borrowed light into the cellar; see our Cornhill page for an example of pavement lights on the former Grimwade's store threshold.
Reference: 'The ultimate manhole covers site', see Links.
See also our Lettered castings index page.

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)
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
John Norman sends this additional information:-
Raymond Cyril Wrinch was the son of the one time Mayor of Ipswich, Alfred Wrinch, ironmonger and manufacturer of wrought iron garden furniture.
Raymond was an architect ARIBA 1901 who lived in his fathers house: Hillcrest, Paget Road; but from 1904 practiced from 16 Museum Street.  He was articled to E.F. Bisshopp in 1895, chief assistant in 1900 and then on his own when he had qualified by 1901. He is credited with the Museum Street/Elm Street building on which his name is carved.
He also designed the Saw Mill for his father's works in Portman Road, later destroyed by fire and St Helen's School in Woodbridge Road - built by
Marriott's in 1913/14; probably the largest primary school in Ipswich when built. See our V.A. Marriott page for more on the school, although it doesn't appear to bear any lettering.
Another 'signed' building by R.C. Wrinch can be seen in Kemball Street: Gordon Terrace, as shown on our Named buildings page.

Another 'signed' building similar to 36 Museum Street 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.
Our Ipswich Museum page features the original museum building (now Arlington's restaurant) which gave its name to this street.

32 Museum Street
Ipswich Historic Lettering: 42 Museum Street Cocksedge grate
2022 view from the road
'I spotted this today [March 2023] outside 32 Museum Street. It seems to cover a basement skylight: the others along the road have been replaced so this is possibly the last 'Cocksedge' one here. Sandy Phillps.' See our Cocksedge page for links to more of Sandy's ground-level finds.
The grating certainly looks as if it provides borrowed light to the sub-basement rooms; the lintel brickwork above the windows can just be seen at pavement level.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Cocksedge grate, Museum Street

Comparative maps of the Museum Street area
Below: a detail of the 1778
Joseph Pennington map of Ipswich.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Museum Street map 17781778 map

Below: a similar area, as shown on a map of 1902. The differences are striking – as highlighted by the coloured comparison of the two maps below.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Museum Street map 19021902 map
In 1902 Elm Street runs, as today, from the top of Curriers Lane, past St Mary-At-Elms, across Museum Street, and continues past the junction of Arcade Street and King Street and north into the Golden Lion yard. Presumably the (unlabelled) Lion Street was considered to be the remaining alleyway leading round onto Cornhill.
Below: overlaying the outline 1902 map (in red) over the 1778 map (in blue) indicates the radical changes to the streets here. Features which stayed the same or similar are: 'Burstall or Gaol Lane' (today's Black Horse Lane), Elm Street (slightly truncated in 1778), also the Church of St Mary-At-Elms . 'Little King Street' (today's King Street – south of the King's Head)  is about twice as wide, taking back land from the King's Head site. From there we see major changes.: 'King Street' to the east of the Town Hall becomes the first part of Princes Street. From the junction with Butter Market south-westward, Princes Street chops through houses and gardens to reach 'Boat Lane'/Friars Street.
Museum Street cuts southwards from Westgate Street through part of Seckford's 'Great Place', through gardens to reach the original Museum building (today's Arlington's Restaurant). Arcade Street continues the cut through gardens and through the building on Elm Street we see today with the arch.  Later, Museum Street was continued southwards, crossing Elm Street to follow the line of Thursby's Lane to reach the new Princes Street. The small dog-leg of today's Coyte's Gardens indeed cuts through the physic  gardens of Dr Coyte (and before him, Dr Beeston).
All of this area changed again in the 1970s, of course, with the building of the Willis, Faber & Dumas offices, as shown on our Lost trade signs page under the heading 'Before Willis'.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Museum Street map 1778/1902 comparison1778/1902 comparison maps
The construction of Museum Street
Museum Street was constructed in 1847, the same year as the original Christopher Fleury-designed Ipswich Museum. It turned sharply to the east just past the pilastered Museum building. In 1850 an archway was cut through the house which had been occupied by Lincolnshire banker William Ingelow from 1834 to 1844 (also his daughter, the novelist Jean Ingelow – see our Blue plaques.) The archway enable the road to link into King Street at the junction with Elm Street. When in the 1850s a junction was made between the southern end of Museum Street and Thursbys Lane (the awkward junction between the two sections of Museum Street is explained by this afterthought in street planning), the eastern leg of the original Museum Street was renamed Arcade Street. The name Museum Street was then applied to the whole street from Westgate Street to the new Princes Street. See our Princes Street page for a timeline of the piecemeal building of that curious thoroughfare linking Cornhill to the railway station. The small southernmost section of Thursbys Lane which remained between Princes Street and Friars Street was finally swept away with the building of the offices of Willis Faber & Dumas in the 1970s.)
[Information from Malster, R.: A history of Ipswich, see Reading List.]

Seckford's 'Great Place'
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Seckford's Palace   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Seckford's Palace 2
Seckford's Great Place on the south side of Westgate Street and as shown behind the church of St Mary-At-Elms on a 1741 Prospect of Ipswich.
Thomas Seckford (1515-1587) was an official at the court of Queen Elizabeth I. Elizabeth is known to have held court at the Seckford family seat, Seckford Hall. It is difficult to imagine the rather workaday, slightly run-down, westerly part of Westgate Street as playing host to such a grand, towered mansion as 'The Great Place' (also known as Seckford House) with beautiful gardens laid out behind it in1574. But then Ipswich at that time was known for the many gardens and orchards in the town centre; see also Coytes Gardens. You will have walked up one of the staircases from The Great Place if you have ever eaten at the upper restaurant area in Arlington's, the original Ipswich Museum.
“A large site on the south side of Westgate Street and just within the gates, was chosen by Thomas Seckford, a cadet of the old-established Seckfords of Seckford Hall [on the outskirts of Woodbridge] , for the erection of his “great house” in this town. Seckford was Member of Parliament for the borough and as Master of the Court of Requests was a frequent adviser to the corporation. He had amassed a fortune in his busy life as Surveyor of the Court of Wards and Liveries and extolled the virtues of industry in the mottoes used upon maps made at his cost by Christopher Saxton for the first county atlas of England. His Ipswich mansion with its curious cupola-like turrets overtopping the houses around, passed to two of his brothers, both deeply engaged in privateering, although the one was Master of the Tents to Queen Elizabeth [I] and a groom of her chamber.” (From Redstone, L. Ipswich through the ages, see Reading list.)
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Seckford Palace1674 view
'Squire Gaudy's House': Ogilby's map shows the house a hundred years after it was built, captioned 'The South Prospect of Esqr. Gaudys House, Now Sr. William Barkers'. The two views shown here are looking from the gardens to the south. The house suffered considerable change before its eventual disappearance when Museum Street was built in the mid-19th century (as described above).

See also Lost Ipswich trade signs for 'Before and After Willis'

Related pages
Cornhill 1, Cornhill 2
King Street / Arcade Street /
Lion Street
Crown & Anchor / Westgate Street
Lady Lane Civic Drive

Salem Church / St Georges Street
Princes Street
Friars Bridge Road

Coytes Gardens
Museum Street Methodist Church
Black Horse Lane

Ipswich Museum
Street nameplates
Historic maps
Street index
Street name derivations

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