Port, borough and county town of Suffolk, Ipswich is by far the largest settlement in the county and historically was built around the lowest crossing point of the tidal river Orwell (known as the river Gipping to the west of Stoke bridge). The modern town has expanded far beyond the fortified medieval port and today many large modern urban and industrial estates surround the older central shopping, administrative and decayed port areas which are slowly being redeveloped.

It's often claimed that "Ipswich once had a pub for every day of the year". However this claim (which is probably made for many similar-sized towns) doesn't stand up. Borough police records show that the town's drinking estate peaked in about 1870, when there were a total of 313 taverns and beerhouses. As police records did not differentiate between beerhouses with either on- or off-licenses, the maximum number of drinking premises was probably between ten to twenty fewer than that.





Before 1860

In 1553, Edward VI decided there were too many inns in the country and he decreed that their number be reduced. Whilst the City of London was permitted 40, Ipswich was allowed only four.

In 1689, there appear to have been a mere two dozen inns or taverns in Ipswich:

  • St Mary at the Tower Parish

    • Griffen
    • Chequers
    • Swan
    • King's Head
    • Castle
    • Three Cooneys
    • Queen's Head
    • Royal Oak
    • White Horse
    • Black Boy
    • Coffee House
  • St Margaret's Parish

    • Greyhound
    • Cock & Pye
    • Two Neck'd Swan
    • Buck (Running Buck)
    • Woolpack
    • Saracen's Head
  • Wykes Bishop hamlet

    • Cock
  • St Mary at the Quay

    • Angel
    • Bull
  • St Peter's

    • Gun
    • Rose