Northgate Street, Roundels and Oak House

14, North Gate
One of the grandest address signs in the town can be found at 14 Northgate Street, although the beribboned floral ellipse, suitably coloured, boasts:
on the first storey of this fine 17th century building. It stands a few hundred yards from the Public Library, The Halberd and the Northgate Street sign: close to the site of the actual North Gate into the old town.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: 14 North Gate 1a   Ipswich Historic Lettering: 14 North Gate 22013 images
This building is Listed Grade II and the listing text reads:
"A C17 timber-framed and plastered house with a jettied upper storey on a moulded bressumer. The front is plastered in panels and the centre panel has a C20 pargetted wreath inscribed 14 North Gate. 2 storeys and attics. 4 window range, C18 double-hung sashes with glazing bars, in flush cased frames. 2 6-panel doors have wood moulded and shouldered architraves. Roof tiled, with 4 flat headed dormers with double-hung sashes with glazing bars and a good modillioned eaves cornice. The building has been restored.
All the listed buildings in Northgate Street except Garden Wall to No 9 form a group with No 43 (Great White Horse Hotel) Tavern Street, No 2  Great Colman Street and part of Nos 2 to 12 (even), St Margaret's Plain. Also No 2 (including No 1 Carr Street) and Nos 4 to 16 (even) form a group with Nos 2, 2A and Nos 4 to 10 (even) Great Colman Street."
Restoration was carried out, c. 1938 and 1948, to the designs of architect J.A. Sherman, whose home and office were across the road at number 9 (see below) and whose prolific architectural work in this area of the town is notable.

Directly opposite the Public Library stands Archdeacon Pykenham's Gatehouse which is illustrated on our plaques page.

9 Northgate Street
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Northgate Street buildings2018 image
Above: the southernmost entrance to the Ipswich & Suffolk Club car park and through the arch is the side wall of no. 9 including two white stone squares, which resemble parish boundary markers (to be confirmed).
The photograph also shows the timbered and jettied Oak House, the entrance to Oak Lane, the high building (originally the Assembly Rooms) and, in the distance, The Great White Horse Hotel.
This is a Grade II Listed Building: 'A late mediaeval timber-framed house, probably C15-C16, with a C18 red brick front block. The interior was restored in the early C20. 3 storeys and cellars. 3 window range, double-hung sashes with glazing bars, in plain reveals, with gauged brick flat arches. A stucco band runs at the 1st storey window sill level. There is a stone plinth. A 6-panel door with a segmental fanlight with glazing bars has stuccoed reveals with panelled pilasters and double console brackets. Roof tiled, with a modillion eaves cornice. A late mediaeval timber-framed wing extends at the rear with exposed framing, with brick nogging on the ground storey and with a jettied upper storey on exposed joists. The interior has exposed joists and the ceiling joists in one room have a series of carpenters marks. There are 2 original windows with ogee moulded mullions, and tracery.'
Number 9 Northgate Street (the Georgian red brick frontage above) was the home and office of J.A. Sherman, architect of a number of buildings in the area. The original German spelling of his name 'J.A. Scheurmann' appears on some of the F.L.S. plans from the early 20th century) but he changed the spelling of his name before the outbreak of World War I. A glimpse of the Tudor rear of number 9 can be found on our St Mary-Le-Tower page.

Oak House
Although it is a crest rather than a roundel, this is a good place to include Oak House, formerly The Royal Oak Inn, at 7 Northgate Street which stands opposite the roundel of no. 14.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Oak House 1   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Oak Lane sign    
Incidentally, visible to the left (photograph above) is the building once used by Egerton's as a Motor Works. Oak House bears a faded information panel telling us:
'Oak House
Former Royal Oak Inn, C15-C16. Much
restored with features from other Ipswich

For the Oak Lane street nameplate at the church end, see our St Mary Le Tower page.
The Royal Oak Inn operated for many years from the smaller, corner building built in the 15th or 16th century.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Oak House plaque   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Oak House crest  
Above the main door we find an ornate carved timber crest reading:

which we construe as: 'Do not attempt it, unless you carry it out thoroughly' or more pithily (and in the words of The Small Faces): 'All or nothing'.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Oak House 3  Ipswich Historic Lettering: Oak House 42012 images
We even noticed the street number '7' carved into the stone threshold. This entrance included in the northern part of the building were both the work of architect T.W. Cotman in 1888 [see also Lloyds Bank and the Crown & Anchor], remodelled by him c. 1901 for his own offices and reusing old timbers. Coincidentally, architect J.A. Sherman lived and worked at no. 9 (see above).

It is worth acknowledging the eclectic carvings which decorate the building. Below are details of the carved board facing the jettied section on Oak Lane (whether this qualifies as a genuine bressumer – load-bearing – beam is debatable) and two faces of the post at the corner.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Oak House carvings   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Oak House carvings2013 images
The Public Sculpture of Norfolk & Suffolk
website (see Links) tells us that this carved angle post can be found "on the corner of this fine timber framed and plastered building from the early 16th century. It is decorated with candelabras with symmetrical ornament at either side with a female head with beret at the top of one and a blacksmith on the other. The combination of candelabra and grotesques was inspired by late fifteenth century Italian grotesque decoration - found in the engravings of Zoan Andrea for instance and employed by Holbein in his jewellery designs in the 1530s – which suggests a dating for the building in the 1530s. The building was formerly the Royal Oak Inn. The female bust suggest the welcome for the visitor and the blacksmith the care for the coach-horses." See our Egertons page for a period postcard of the Oak House. See also our St Mary-Le-Tower page for the Church House further up Oak Lane.

The English Heritage Listing text reads: "Oak House, Northgate Street; Listed Grade II.
Formerly the Royal Oak Inn. A fine C15-C16 timber-framed and plastered building with exposed timber-framing. There is a cross wing at the south end with a long frontage on Oak Lane and the upper storey is jettied on both fronts with carved bressumers on curved brackets, capitals and shafts. It has been considerably restored but has many original features. 2 storeys and attics. 3 window range on Northgate Street, mullioned windows, some with transomes, with lattice leaded lights. The cross wing has an oriel bay window with a moulded sill. Long ranges of small mullioned windows connect the windows on the ground and 1st storeys. The gable of the cross wing projects slightly on a moulded bressumer and the 1st floor bressumer is carved with fishes, presumably pike. There is a fine enriched corner post, carved with figures, one a blacksmith. The bargeboards to the gable are carved with vine ornamentation. The attics are lit by a window in the gable. The doorway has an open porch with a 4-centred arch with carved spandrels and an inner battened door. The frontage on Oak Lane has several original window openings with moulded sills. The house was extended to the north in the early C20 by F G Cotman, who lived here. Some original timbers were employed in the work. Roofs tiled, with 1 flat headed dormer on the Oak Lane frontage.
All the listed buildings in Northgate Street except Garden Wall to No 9 form a group with No 43 (Great White Horse Hotel) Tavern Street. No 2 Great Colman Street and part of Nos 2 to 12 (even) St Margaret's Plain. Also No 7 (Pykenham) and Garden Wall to No 9 form a group with St Mary- Le-Tower Church House, Oak Lane, and St Mary-Le-Tower Church, Tower Street." See that page for Tower Church Yard and Hatton Court.

Moving down Northgate Street into Upper Brook Street, we find the aforementioned Egerton's building, a blue plaque (John Harbottle at nos. 2-4), The Great White Horse, The Cock & Pye, Symonds for Kodaks, a building opposite dated '1900', then...

See the 1778 map of the area on our Bethesda page.

CTC Winged wheel (41 Upper Brook Street)
Further down the road towards the Wet Dock, in Upper Brook Street below the Symonds sign, we see another round relief design with lettering from another era. Not a house sign, nor a trade sign: 'CTC' in gothic initials, set against an old fashioned spoked wheel with three white wings circling the hub in a clockwise direction. Any cyclist will probably know that this stands for the Cyclists' Touring Club, pressure group and organiser of cycle outings and tours for the enthusiast. They were clearly connected to this shop in the past, the evidence of an impressive insignia on the first storey of what was Mick MacNeil Sports shop (now Age Concern charity shop) proclaims this.
[Update 20.10.10: Ken Nichols emails: "(The sign) was placed on this building in about 1887 as a sign that the Coach and Horses inn which stood here until the 1970's ... and would tell riders that the Inn was a good place to stay (a fore runner of A.A star signs now). Inns and Hotels would hope to have these signs outside their premises ... back in the 1980s (I think) when the Coach & Horses was being changed into shops my wife and I pointed out to the Council that the sign had been there for over 100 years. They were pleased to hear , and promised it would be carefully taken down and returned to the building when finished."]
[Update 5.2.10: Ann Williams' fine web site (See Links) includes a collection of CTC sign images from around the country. She suggested that we get in touch with the
Cyclists' Touring Club, who use some of her images,  as they had an old sighting of the Ipswich sign, but no image. They are now using our images on their site and we are happy to exchange Links with them. On walking past the site yesterday, we noticed that the whole wall has been covered in creamwash, so that the two-tone wheel emblem is now monochrome. Sad.]
Another couple of examples of CTC signs in Dent, North Yorkshire (showing the one att Barnards Farm, Essex) and Winchcome, Gloucestershire.
Another excellent 'Headquarters' example of the 'Winged wheel' CTC sign can be found on a former inn in Sturminster Newton, Dorset.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: CTC 2   Ipswich Historic Lettering: CTC 12001 images  
The Coach and Horses Inn
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Coach & Horses1960s image
The photograph above from the 1960s shows the Coach & Horses towards the end of its existence, although the CTC sign isn't visible here. The building dates from the 16th century as a private dwelling which was adapted for use as an inn at some time in the 17th or early 18th century. It was refronted in Georgian style while retaining many features of the original building to the rear. Aptly named this inn was used as a staging post by coaches travelling to and from Colchester, London, Bury St Edmunds, Scole, Bungay and Norwich, also Woodbridge and Halesworth. The Suffolk CAMRA site (see Links, also on that page see our Reading List - James, T.: 'Ipswich inns, taverns and pubs') provides a list of many of the landlords of the inn. This pub closed in 1985. and is now used as charity shops.
The Coach & Horses was situated at 41 Upper Brook Street and is Listed Grade II (see British Listed Buildings On the Links page): "A C17-C18 brick front, now painted. 2 storeys and attics. 6 window range, double-hung sashes with glazing bars, in flush cased frames, There is a good wood doorcase with fluted Doric half columns, a triglyph frieze and a pediment. There is a carriage way at the south end. A timber-framed and plastered wing, probably C17, with C18 fenestration extends east at the rear. Roofs tiled, with 3 gabled dormers on the front."
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Coach & Horses 2   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Coach & Horses 2a2016 images
Above: the two charity shops opposite the former site of Sir Thomas Rush's house (Wilkinson/Sainsbury, see our
Old Cattle Market page) which were once the Coach & Horses Inn, with its winged wheel sign. In 2010 the wall and sign had been covered in cream masonry paint. Boo!
From the Lost Pubs Project website (see Links):-
'This pub was taken over by my 4x great grandfather John Osboldstone and his wife Mary on Saturday 14th April 1787. Originally a stagecoach driver from Dorset he moved to Colchester and then onto Ipswich when he was 27 years old. I found this advertisement for his opening day in the Ipswich Journal: "Mr John Osboldstone takes the liberty of informing his friends and public in general that he has taken the above house together with the stock of old bottled wine and other liquor. He has fitted up many good beds and endeavoured to render every apartment as commodious and eligable as possible for the reception of those who will honour him with their commands which he hopes with strict attention and faculty will merit their attention. NB. Excellent stabling." John Osboldstone (November 2012)'
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Coach & Horses 1

Composite photograph of the former hotel entrance (through the left-hand entrance), now the lobby of the charity shop. Original linenfold panelling and staircase etc. shown.
See also our Old Cattle Market page for a list of mansions hereabout, including that belonging to the 16th century Duke of Suffolk on the site of the Coach & Horses – whose coach houses may have been the last remaining parts of the Duke's house (the aforementioned page includes views of these buildings c.1900 and in 2016).
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Coach & Horses 1978Courtesy The Ipswich Society
The above 1978 photograph from the Ipswich Society's Image Archive (see Links) clearly shows the former Steam Brewery Tap (on the other side of the cart entrance) which is Charles Harvey furniture showrooms at this time, the tiny tobacconist's shop at no. 39a – today the Can-Can bag shop and, at near-right, the Coach & Horses Inn with pub sign. Notably the 'CTC' winged wheel sign is mounted to the left of the Palladian style pub entrance. Not only that, but it's been covered in pinkwash, so must have been restored in grey and white when it was resited at first floor level as shown above.

Three pubs (almost) in a row
Interestingly, the building to the south of the Coach & Horses was The Fox Inn, shown in the postcard view below. The building to the north was The Steam Brewery Tap/Inn, an outlet for the consumption of Charles Cullingham's Steam Brewery behind it (later called The Brewery Inn, after being taken over by Tollemache – after 1887; it closed August 21 1920). Today it is the building with the arched alleyway and tiny Can-Can luggage shop.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Fox Inn
Below: a similar view in 2016. Many Ipswich residents will remember Browne's Menswear shop seen at the right (at this time the proprietor had also stocked prom dresses; by 2019 it was a fish-and-chip restaurant) in the part of the old Fox Inn with the gable and oriel window. Age UK occupied the next shop (later they moved to the basement of the old Woolworth store in Carr Street) and another charity shop run by the Salvation Army – both occupy the fomer Coach and Horses Inn.  Next is the tiny Can-Can bag and case shop (painted blue, behind the knot of people), then the arched cart entrance to the old Steam Brewery and the Steam Brewery Tap, painted pink (refurbished in 2019 as a nail bar with accommodation above). See also our Roundels page for information about the 'CTC' winged wheel sign visible above the Age UK shopfront.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Coach & Horses 20162016 image

Pitcairn Road
Back to the circular house names, Pitcairn Road, like the island with which it shares its name is a quirky place. Just off Bramford Road past the railway bridge, Pitcairn Road refuses to provide a rat-run for drivers towards Bramford Lane by running straight into a T-junction with Eustace Road. By the time you get there, you will have passed two fascinating little bungalows which back onto the railway embankment:

a long bungalow with a tiny frontage and a strange spelling! Dyslexic golfer or illiterate Lincolnian?
a bigger double-fronted bungalow next door, with a newer house hard up against it to the left.
But why are they blessed with such disproportionately large name/date roundels? Perhaps they celebrate something more than these small buildings...

-Ipswich Historic Lettering: The Lincs, The Rest
For a really BIG date on a house, try Roundwood Road.

Crown Office
And finally, an oddity which really shouldn't be here. For several years, we've been speculating about the official impremateur displayed proudly high on the rendered wall in the apex of the roof of Primedale Estate Agents in Crown Street (on the corner with Neal Street):

Surely some royal dispensation related to land registry, stamp duty or Crown Estates? And so well preserved after all this time, too... On enquiry inside the estate agency we discovered from the proprietor that, on buying the building in the late eighties, Ipswich Borough Council asked him to come up with a name to distinguish it from Crown House further down the street on the same side. This roundel is the result.

Another roundel bearing a large decorative date exists on the corner of St Helens Street and Grove Lane.
A very recent dated roundel appears on the newly-built Co-op in Foxhall Road.

See also our Lettered castings index page.

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