'Sunny Place', Albion Mills, The Case Is Altered, Holme Wood

In June 2020, Jan Ordowski got in touch on a few matters. One intriguing question sprang from an entry in Kelly's directory. 'I'm particularly interested in the exact location of ... Sunny Place which was near the Catholic Church on Woodbrige Rd & also mentioned in Kelly's up to the 1970s.' In looking into this tiny 'Place', we thought that it would be of interest on this website in pointing up roads and buildings which are built, disappear, are built over and (sometimes) become something else: an ever-evolving town.

Kelly's entries
Jan sent images of two entries from Kelly's directory from 1925 and from 1964-66.

The key line is '... from 326 Woodbridge road.'; also that there were only four addresses in Sunny Place. An audit of the surviving addresses in this part of Ipswich has to take account of a major demolition project and housing development, now known as "St Mary's" (see 'Home Wood' below):-
Houses across from The Case Is Altered (marked ‘P.H.’ on the 1902 map):
The house set back and beside the chapel is 320.
The double-fronted “nun’s house” is numbered 324(?).
[Entrance to St Marys Road]
The ‘eye-catcher’ house on the opposite corner to the Co-op is numbered 1 (St Marys Road).
334 to 342 (5 dwellings). The modern St Mary's Catholic Primary School is built behind and around them.

1902 map
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Sunny Place, map 19021902 map
The 1902 map detail has a number of interesting points. The entrance to the gardens of Holme Wood stands opposite the site of today's Co-op. The serpentine drive is echoed by the road and path in St Mary's housing development. One assumes that the long building to the east of the path is stables/carriage house; perhaps the house on Woodbridge Road opposite Belvedere Road (and the site of today's Gothic 'eyecatcher') is a lodge house for Holme Wood. Why are the words 'Ipswich' and 'Woodbridge' bracketed just below the entrance on the map – presumably something to do with the Catholic chapel? St Mary's 'School' labelled south of Albion Hill has four small cottages between it and the railway cutting. The Victorian Catholic Primary School was demolished in the 1980s and a new school of the same name built which became part of the St Mary's housing development.

Albion Mills and Albion Hill
At the top left corner, running off  Parade Terrace (later Belvedere Road), is 'BACK OF ALBION MILL'. Edward White's map of 1867 (detail below) shows the site of the two windmills which stood atop the hill to catch the prevalent south-westerlies here – hence the name of the public house on the corner of Woodbridge Road and Belvedere Road: The Albion Mills (now demolished). The pub sign is shown on our Parade Field Terrace page. There is the legend 'P.H.' floating over the railway relating to the tiny The Robin Hood & Little John public house. Albion Mills, not labelled ran as a pub from the mid-19th century and was closed in 1995 and demolished with neighbouring houses on Woodbridge Road to become, respectively, Bristo's car dealership forecourt and showroom. The main road between Ipswich and Woodbridge retains the name 'ALBION HILL' for a short stretch between the railway bridge and the entrance to Holme Wood, then becomes Woodbridge Road again. One might have expected that the steep slope between The Duke of York and the railway would have been called 'Albion Hill', but not so.
See our Street name derivations page for Albion Hill.
>Scroll down for all the windmills shown on the 1867 map.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Sunny Place 2021Composite image 2021
Standing outside the Co-op one sees Woodbridge Road from the jaws of Brunswick Road. The entrance to St Marys Road is directly opposite. The Case is Altered public house is off to the left. The
five dwellings (334 to 342 Woodbridge Road) are visible to the left of the Gothic-style ‘eye-catcher’ house opposite at 1 St Marys Road. The entry to Sunny Place must have been situated around the end of the flint wall to the left of 1 St Marys Road, with a row of four small cottages running south off Woodbridge Road at right angles. Perhaps the large brick pillar with pointed top is a clue to the edge of the land owned by 'Holme Wood'.

Below: looking at a close-up of 'The Case' on the 1902 map, we see the rather smaller, earlier pub building and, directly opposite, a short passage with four small cottages in a terrace. This must surely be Sunny Place with the frontages of the cottages facing east to catch the sun from about noon onwards, hence the name. One wonders if they were built for the servants of the residents of Holme Wood, the Ransome family? Domestic servants (cook, maids) would probably have quarters in the Big House, but Sunny Place might have housed coachman, groom and gardeners.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Sunny Place (circled)Sunny Place (ringed in red), 1902 map
Another legend on the map which caused us some head-scratching was 'Ipswich Woodbridge' with a bracket to the left. Eventually it became clear that this relates to 'M.P.'  on Woodbridge Road which marks a cast iron milestone (the second example illustrated on our Milestones page: no '70' outside 325 Woodbridge Road).

Holme Wood and the Catholic church and school
Holme Wood off Woodbridge Road, behind St Mary’s Catholic Chapel and Convent was the long time residence of the Ransome family – famous in Ipswich as heavy engineering industralists – with exquisite grounds and well-tended lawns.  It became the home of the Girls School of Jesus and Mary.  Holme Wood (on the OS Map) is sometimes 'Home Leigh' or 'Holm Wood' (the architect was Brightwen Binyon for J. E. Ransome, 1882/83).  The 1884 OS Map shows the previous building on this site, Albion Hill House which was demolished to allow Holme Wood to be constructed. In the 21st century the Holme Wood house was converted into flats and refurbished as a key part of St Mary's estate.
Pere Louis Simon, a Catholic priest bought five acres of land off Woodbridge Road before 1860 and established a Catholic chapel. Nuns from Lyons followed and a sizeable convent developed with part of the park being playing fields for the girls.
An orphanage was opened in 1862. All this was swept away, of course, when the pupils were moved to St Joseph’s College on Belstead Road in 1996 and St Mary’s housing development happened. Hopkins Homes built flats and houses on the site (from 2002/3). Simon Knott writes a detailed account of Catholicism in Ipswich in the mid-19th century on Simon’s Suffolk Churches website (see Links); this includes further detail about the area now known as "St Mary's".

[***The Case is Altered designed by John Shewell Corder for Cobbold & Co., 1913. The pub name derivation is opaque: one tempting source is that the name is a corruption of 'Casa de Altaria' in Spain, where Engilsh troops were billeted while helping the Spanish and Portuguese forces defeat the French army between 1808 to 1814; this is supposed to be because soldiers returning from the Peninsular War at the beginning of the nineteenth century brought back the name. Others claim that there is a legal derivation about new evidence in a court case – the name appears in a number of locations, most supposed explanations have a local connection, so don't apply elsewhere.
The original Case is Altered was reputedly built in 1815 to cater for militia troops billeted in the area at St Helen's Barracks. The present building dates from some time between 1904 and 1927; older maps (including the 1902 map above) show the pub occupying only a smaller building located where the eastern end of the present pub now stands. This has since been demolished.
Tim Voelcker discusses the possible sources of the name in an Ipswich Society Newsletter article.

1867 map
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Albion Hill map 1867a1867 map
On Edward White's map of Ipswich 1867 'Albion Hill' appears twice above and below Woodbridge Road (the former legend doesn't appear on the road itself). The upper legend runs from about half-way down the future Lacey Street, past a windmill and all the way up the slope to the site of the future railway cutting (opened 1877). The religious buildings are labelled 'Nunnery' with the Catholic Church directly south of it. The 17th Century forerunner of Holme Wood is marked (albeit indistinctly) 'Albion Hill House' (close-up below). Overlaying the two maps (1867 and 1902) confirms that they occupied the same site.

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Albion Hill map 1867b1867 map detail
There are a few further points of interest, particularly the rather speculative nature of White's map here in east Ipswich as the Freehold Land Society begin to develop the California estate and road names have clearly changed in some cases post-publication. Today's Rivers Street, opposite the Nunnery is here labelled 'Albion Rd'; down Cauldwell Avenue the lower 'Tovell Road South' is now Tovells Road and above it 'Tovell Road North' is now Holland Road; just off the map detail to the right, St Johns Avenue is now Nelson Road. The land around Parade Road is laid out as unoccupied plots and labelled 'Building Ground'. Brunswick Road is a short street. At the top left is part of the new Victorian cemetery, opened in 1855, with part of Cemetery Road visible. Just off this 1867 detail to the left is the legend 'MOUNT PROSPECT' on a piece of farmland. Perhaps this fits in with the use of 'Belvedere' and 'Belle Vue' in the road names at the top of Albion Hill. As the land rises steadily from the river level, the views across Ipswich must have been quite panoramic – a little less so in the 21st century with all 'The 'ouses in between' (as Gus Elan sang in 1900).

Clearly marked between the line of the future Belvedere Road and that of the future Felixstowe branch line are the two 'Mills' (dark circles). Not marked as such, but shown as a dark circle on the site of the future Post Mill Close (off Belle Vue Road) is a third mill. The fourth is shown by a similar symbol – just below the letter 'b' of 'Albion Hill' at upper left – at the top of North Hill Road; it was not fully developed at this time and is shown unlabelled here.
Anyone who has lived in this area of Ipswich will know that the winds, particularly the south-westerlies, blow very strong here, so it's a good place to erect windmills to grind corn.
See the document detailing Windmills in the Borough of Ipswich by Peter Dolman of the Suffolk Windmill Group (click the link to open the PDF).

Related page:
'Russell Villas', Belle Vue Retreat & environs;
Parade Field Terrace and St Helen's Barracks;
Warwick Road
Windmills in the Borough of Ipswich

Please email any comments and contributions by clicking here.
Search Ipswich Historic Lettering
2004 Copyright throughout the Ipswich Historic Lettering site: Borin Van Loon
No reproduction of text or images without express written permission