facts about Ipswich

  • If people elsewhere know one thing about Ipswich, it is the Ipswich Town football club. Even my Icelandic ex-flatmate knows Ipswich Town, which was an early member of Premier League (-fixed) and is now cannon fodder for teams like Blackburn Rovers who are cannon fodder for the Premier League. The logo of Ipswich Town is the Suffolk Punch, a breed of draft horse, which is pictured in white on a blue background although it is chestnut in real life. I like to think this recalls the white horses carved into British chalk hills in the Bronze Age, the early Middle Ages, or the advent of the heritage industry (depending on the hill and the Internet history source).
  • If people know a second thing about Ipswich, it’s that five sex workers, all women, were murdered by a serial killer here in 2006. The man convicted of being the “Suffolk Strangler” is serving a life sentence. One of the victims was named Anneli, but before you ask, she was not Finnish, impeccable sources report.
  • Ipswich is sometimes claimed to be the oldest continuously inhabited trading town in Britain. At the moment, however, people are debating whether the trading tents in the town square are unsightly and should be moved to make way for … something. Like a piazza, whatever that is. The empeered former head of Marks & Spencer suggested it on a flying visit so we have to take it seriously.
  • Ipswich also has Britain’s newest university campus, University Campus Suffolk, where I’m working. It opened in 2007 and before that Suffolk was one of the last two, three or four (underlying source says “a few”) counties to not have a university.
  • Ipswich defines itself in relation to the following fixed stars:

  • Norwich, the country seat of Norfolk as Ipswich is of Suffolk. The football rival, the city that got the University of East Anglia over Ipswich, the city that is said on Streetlife to have the bigger, better stores. (It even has Clas Ohlson, the Ikea of hardware, which could motivate me to visit.) Norwich is England’s first UNESCO City of Literature and bid to be England’s City of Culture 2013, losing to Derry-Londonderry.
  • London. The train ride takes only an hour and 20 minutes, but a last-minute ticket costs about £30 one way, and more than £500 for a monthly pass, so most people will not be casually running down to the city. There is a commuting class visible around the station, but this isn’t Oxford or Scarsdale, more Stony Brook or Lappeenranta.
  • Bury St. Edmunds is another Suffolk town with a UCS satellite campus and, according to the Streetlife commenters, a livelier, better preserved shopping district that draws people away from Ipswich.
  • Colchester, the main town of Essex (although not the county town, which is Chelmsford). is said by various Wikipedia-level sources to have been the capital of Roman Britain, or at least a regional capital. Boadicea led Celtic Iceni rebels from Norfolk, as well as the Trinovantes from Suffolk and Essex, to attack Colchester around 60 CE. Ipswich thus stands in a similar supporting role to Bedford at the Battle of Lexington and Concord. These days people know Colchester for football, the University of Essex and a big train station.
  • Felixstowe is a suburb or satellite town of Ipswich located on the actual coast with a big container shipping port, whereas the smaller Port of Ipswich is a miniature dockland on the Orwell River. I am envisioning The Wire, Season Two (the Ipswich murders would be Season Three and I do hope nobody is inspired to re-enact Season Five).
  • Cambridge is technically just an hour or so further north, but from the perspective of most of Ipswich, might as well be Neptune.
  • Posted on by Diana ben-Aaron
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