Living in Ipswich
What is life like in Ipswich
As the county town of Suffolk, Ipswich has strong links to English history, magnificent architecture and a strong community spirit, all of which combine to make it a pleasant place to live.
While it might seem like many town centres these days are identical in approach and appearance, those who look closely will see there is actually a unique look to Ipswich. Many buildings in the town centre are blessed with evidence of styles from years – and indeed decades – gone by.
Plenty of money has been invested in Ipswich in recent years and continues to be so, leading to a significant overhaul of the town. The waterfront and the town centre, in particular, have benefited from the regeneration project.
More housing is being built as the town grows in popularity with those who believe it is the perfect bolthole outside London. It is just an hour by train from the capital, making it ideal for people who wish to continue working in the city while living a quieter life in Suffolk.
In addition to excellent local shopping facilities and a good range of restaurants and bars, there is a hugely popular market that was named the winner of the Best Small Market of the Year 2010 award.
Ipswich played an important role in the Roman empire, with the area forming a crucial route inland via the rivers Orwell and Gipping. There was a large Roman fort at Walton and a villa from the same period at Castle Hill.
It remains one of England's oldest towns, dating back to the seventh and eighth centuries. It was also an important point on the trade routes between the UK and other parts of northern Europe following the break-up of the Roman empire.
Back in the seventh century, the town centre was located close to where the quay is today. In later centuries, Frisian potters arrived and began to set up the first large-scale potteries in the country, further improving the area's trading credentials.
In roughly 1380, Geoffrey Chaucher told the tale of the Ipswich merchants in the Canterbury Tales.
Ipswich's literary reputation was further enhanced some five centuries later when, in 1835, Charles Dickens stayed in the town and used it as the setting for his The Pickwick Papers work.
During World War I, Ipswich was targeted by German Zeppelins, although it was hardest hit in World War II. In particular, the area in and around the docks was devastated by German bombing raids.
The triumphant England football Manager of 1966 Sir Alf Ramsey, along with Sir Bobby Robson both managed Ipswich Town FC. Actor Ralph Fiennes was born in Ipswich in 1962, while Tudor Cardinal Thomas Wolsey is perhaps the most famous person to come from the town.
Entertainment, sport and days out
There is a thriving cultural scene in Ipswich, with local people keen to partake in all varieties of the arts. The New Wolsey Theatre is one of the most important venues, with plays, musicals, workshops and other events taking place there.
Another good option for those who love to get involved in traditional pastimes is the Suffolk Craft Society, which is based in the town centre and specialises in helping people make designer crafts.
Elsewhere, the Ipswich Regent and the Corn Exchange are other venues that play host to well-known actors, comedians and musicians on a regular basis. And Dance East, located in Ipswich Marina, is a regional hub for dancing where a number of national and international performances take place.
Jimmy's Farm is a great place to take the kids for a day out, giving them a chance to meet a wide range of animals and to learn more about farm life. Alternatively, for a more adrenaline-fuelled activity, go-karting enthusiasts should visit the Anglia Indoor Karting centre for high-speed fun.
For those interested in football, Ipswich Town FC have a fabulous history, and are keen to get to the Premier League. There are also many very good non-league teams to watch, including Ipswich Wanderers, Needham Market, AFC Sudbury and Leiston.
Sporty residents tend to spend time at Suffolk Leisure Park in Ipswich, which has facilities for skiing, tobogganing, climbing and golf, as well as much more. And those who love nothing more than 18 holes are advised to play a round at the Flynn Valley Golf Club and Restaurant, which is extremely impressive.
Eating, drinking & shopping
Foodies will find various establishments to cater for all tastes throughout the town, including venues such as the award-winning Aqua 8 Fusion restaurant and the popular Chinese restaurant Trongs. For a more traditional menu there is the Salthouse hotel and restaurant located on the marina, or Milsoms hotel and restaurant on the outskirts of the town.
Mariners Restaurant of Ipswich and At Twenty5 are others that are highly rated among local people.
For a good choice of drinks and a friendly welcome, people should consider The Red Lion, The Woolpack and The Greyhound
Many of the UK's most popular high street brands operate in Ipswich, which include Next, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and H&M.
The Buttermarket is a tremendous option for shoppers in Ipswich, with many of the UK's most popular high street brands based there. The likes of Gap, H&M, New Look and Next all operate stores at the shopping centre.
Another great option is Ipswich Market, which runs on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. It provides a space for local traders to sell delicious produce such as free range eggs and fresh bread, as well as arts and crafts.
Schools & healthcare
There is a wide range of schools available to children in Ipswich, with some of the most highly rated primary institutions including Tattingstone C of E, Hintlesham and Chattisham C of E, St Mary's Catholic Primary School, Copdock Primary School and The Oaks Community Primary School.
Those looking for a reliable secondary school should consider options such as Kesgrave High School, Copleston High School, Northgate High School and Hadleigh High School. There are also private alternatives such as the prestigious Ipswich School.
The Nuffield private hospital is located on the outskirts of the town, along with Ipswich Hospital, and is the primary healthcare facility in the region, helping people to overcome all manner of medical complaints. There are also plenty of smaller surgeries dotted around the town.
Ipswich is located next to the A12 and A14, the primary roads running through East Anglia. This provides good access to Colchester and London to the south, Cambridge to the east and Norwich to the north, making Ipswich a suitable commuter base.
Trains from the town to London take around an hour and run to Liverpool Street station. There is also an extensive rail network in East Anglia, connecting Ipswich with surrounding towns and cities such as Colchester, Cambridge, Norwich, Stowmarket, Woodbridge and Felixstowe.