Turret Lane

People have been using Turret Lane for at least a thousand years. A hollowed-out tree trunk well, discovered in Turret Lane in the northern limit of the area, was dated by dendrochronology to approximately 670 A.D.  Although originally nothing more than a lane, there were undoubtedly industries flourishing at the time, many to do with the functions of the port and shipbuilding in particular. The archaeologists unearthed several clench bolts and roves, and fish bones indicating both marine and freshwater fishing. (Information from Twinch, C.: Ipswich street by street, see Reading list.)
See our Street name derivations for Turret House (date of build unknown) and much more about it and its relationship to Wolsey's College.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Turret Lane sign2014 image
Above: the familiar cast-iron street nameplate with relief frame and capitals; it is sited in the narrow entry to Turret Lane from Lower Brook Street – opposite the Haven House frontage. Clearly not regularly painted, it bears the patina of years of weathering (see also the sign which once marked Bridge Street.)
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Turret Lane2016 image
Above: the view from Lower Brook Street down the east-west leg of Turret Lane, with the street nameplate just visible at left and the Turret Lane Baptist Chapel past the 'Baltic-style' modern housing at the left of the lane.
Turret Lane comes off the modern, eastbound 'Eastern Gyratory' road (Star Lane) cut through the industrial and mediaeval buildings in 1973, north of Wolsey's Gate. It winds its way around industrial buildings, including the rear of the former East Anglian Daily Times printworks. Passing the end of Rose Lane we find the rather fine building below: a Grade II Listed former Church Hall (
the former Turret Lane Baptist Chapel).
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Turret Green 1
2014 image
The Listing text reads: "An early-mid C19 red brick building with a Suffolk white brick hexastyle front, with brick pilasters and stucco caps surmounted by a frieze and modillion pediment. 2 storeys on the front, with windows between the pilasters. The upper storey windows (blocked) have moulded stone architraves and sills on brackets. The ground storey windows and central doorway have semi-circular stone arches." Today this is known as Cavendish House.

Our page about the Sailor's Rest in St Nicholas Street has a historical aerial view of Silent Street with the red brick Turrent Green Baptist Church prominent. While the church is long gone, its associated hall (which Simon Knott tells us is the former church, hence its rather grand Palladian elevation on Turret Lane) still graces the northernmost part of the lane (labelled as 'Sun. Sch.' on the 1902 map below) just before it turns sharp right rather than run through the middle of today's Old Cattle Market bus station – although you can see the kerbing indicating the line of the old lane bisecting the tarmac. It is only when you see the two apparently disparate church buildings together on the map that this all fits:
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Turret Lane 19021902 map
The 1902 map of the area above shows the variable width and meanders of the lane which originally also headed north to the end of Dogs Head Street – at the site of The Plough (clearly marked 'P.H.'), as well as the branch to Lower Brook Street, thus the lane would have had three legs. The north section of the lane is labelled St Stephens Lane on the 1778 map (shown on our Wolsey's College page). The whole length of Turret Lane strikes us as having been pieced together. Interestingly, the southern end of the lane is marked 'Site of St Mary's College', that is, the 'Wolsey's College' buildings which were erected at the order of Cardinal Wolsey just before his fall from grace. See our Lady Lane page for more information and the historical context. In 1902 this end of Turret Lane was not a T-junction at all but a right angle running east (later to be known as Star Lane), past St Peter's Ironworks – presumably an extension to the St Peter's Ironworks in nearby Foundry Lane – and a graveyard associated with a Friends Meeting House, to meet Bank Street, which today we call the southern end of Foundation Street. It was in 1973 that this was opened up to the north of St Peter's Church. Carol Twinch (see Reading list) decribes this road development stretching from Greyfriars Road to Grimwade Street as "the great traffic gash that is Star Lane".
See also a close-up map of the Rose Lane area here for further commentary on the buildings.


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2004 Copyright throughout the Ipswich Historic Lettering site: Borin Van Loon
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