Old Cattle Market / St Stephen's Church & Lane / Sir Thomas Rush: his chapel and house

Ipswich Historic Lettering: OCM 4
The building in which we're particularly interested is the former Blue Coat Boy public house which we mentioned on our More Schools page in relation to the school sign
(now gone) in Curriers Lane.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Old Cattle Market 2   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Old Cattle Market 1
The metal street sign is a decorative variant on the more heavy-set cast iron street name signs featured on our Street Signs page. The six screw heads which attach it to the rendered wall are picked out in black paint and the curving ogee-type frame has a sideways fleur-de-lys extending at each side. The satisfyingly serif'd caps of the name proclaim that 'The  Old Cattle Market' extends to this open area at the top of Silent Street and is not just the area we now call the bus station.

'The Blue Coat Boy'
Ipswich Historic Lettering: OCM 32014 images  
However, the real revelation on this building is tucked under the small jettied overhang of the first floor. '1620' which is carved into the (very narrow) black-stained bressummer beam is a surprise, particularly as it's so well hidden. Our only worry about the beam is that it's in such surprisingly good nick for a 17th century piece of carving; we suppose that it could be a reproduction installed during one of the facelifts that these old buildings were often subjected to. However, the date could well be accurate and it's nice that it still exists.  Thanks to Ken Nichols for the tip-off about this dated beam. See also the building at the end of Fore Street which bears a bressummer with the same date.

It's worth comparing with the (also) rather recent-looking '1636' date on a building in St Helen's Street (near Major's Corner), the rather more weathered '1631' date on the bressummer beams on the Captain's Houses in Grimwade Street which can be found on the the
the Isaac Lord page which is also dated '1636'.

Where once crowds gathered to witness martyrs being burned at the stake and bulls being baited, cattle were bought and sold on the Cornhill. The Cattle Market in Ipswich has been pushed to several locations as the town expanded and became more crowded, particularly after the movements of the cavalry through the town started once the barracks were opened close to Barrack Corner on Norwich Road. The Provision Market moved from the Cornhill to a one acre site (formerly the house and grounds of Major Heron) lying between Market Lane - after which it was named - and St Stephens Lane and opened on Saturday 22 December 1810. You can still see the 'stub' - to use a Wikipedia term - of Market Street coming off the south side of the thoroughfare called Buttermarket at the back of  the building now housing a coffee chain, formerly one of several buildings there owned by the firm W.S. Cowell which combined the businesses of fine printing & stationery, wine & spirit merchants, tea, coffee and spice merchants, rag recycling (into printing paper) and home furnishing. The company was started by Walter Samual Cowell in the Buttermarket in 1818 and after a long and, towards the end chequered history, this famous firm came to an end in 1992. The lower end of Market Street, which used to come out into Falcon Street was cut off by the Buttermarket Shopping Centre in 1986.

When a bigger location had to be found for the Cattle Market, the owners of the Provision Market purchased a third of an acre site and added a low wall and railings, it had a gate onto the top of Silent Street. The site was not ideal as it was surrounded by a spider's web of small lanes: Dog's Head Lane was only 15 feet between house frontages. Buying and selling of livestock continued on the site we still call 'Old Cattle Market' until 1856 when the market was moved to the marshy ground near Friars Bridge: you can still see Friars Bridge Road coming off the north side of the stretch of Princes Street, close to the Greyfriars roundabout. The land level was raised about six feet above the surrounding marsh and the Cattle Market reopened there in September 1856. It continued in operation on the site until 1986, when a car park was built there. Plus ca change...
See Reading List for Muriel Clegg's 'The way we went', used for information above.

To the left of the older buildings is a modern structure: Coachman's Court, the horse-drawn mean of transport once so central to the town's economy commemorated on the entrance plaque and on the weather vane high (and wonky) above.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: OCM 7   Ipswich Historic Lettering: OCM 62014 images
Standing with your back to Silent Street, you can spot another OCM street sign, easy to miss tucked under an overhang of the Buttermarket Shopping Centre building.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: OCM 8   Ipswich Historic Lettering: OCM 92016 images

Sir Thomas Rush and the Church of St Stephen, St Stephens Lane
Incidentally, the Church of St Stephen is well worth a visit now that it is frequently open as a Tourist Information Centre. This lettered sheet of lead and its information plaque are displayed in the interior:-
Ipswich Historic Lettering: St Stephen Church 1   Ipswich Historic Lettering: St Stephen Church 2
'Removed from Lead Roof of St STEPHEN'S CHURCH during alteration and renovation
IPSWICH, September 1937           R.J. Brady, Rector    B.H. Jarman Warden'

Reading: Blatchly, J. Ipswich Tourist Information Centre in the medieval Church of St Stephen's, Ipswich (see Reading list) is a short, attractive booklet sold for a pound at our TIC.
See also St Margaret's Church which carries a similar style – if rather more chunky – 'T' on a buttress. It is only a few steps away from here that we find The Sun Inn (formerly Atfield & Daughter).

The Rush bressumer beam
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Old Cattle Market 4
After the '1620' beam seen in Old Cattle market, another carved bressumer hangs rather incongruously on the back of Wilkinson's modern block, facing the east end of the Church of St Stephen. There is a small plaque below it which tells us a little:
'This carved first floor bressummer beam dating from early 17th*** century, and showing an unidentified merchants mark, was retained by Messrs. J. Sainsbury Ltd. and reinstated here by kind permission of C&A'. [... the new stores opened in 1971]
The clothing store C&A has long gone from this building, currently occupied by Wilkinson hardware; Sainsbury occupies the next shop south of Wilkinson on Upper Brook Street, with a partial frontage on Dog's Head Street). Where the bressumer came from isn't recorded on the plaque, but it is thought that Rush’s house was located on the place where the supermarket now stands.  The first shield
about a third of the way in from the left with the 'V' shape is said to be the coat of arms of the Rush family (however, it is probably Rush's badge as serjeant-at-arms to the king). The merchant's mark on a shield  beside it is a vertical with arrow heads at each end and an 'X' at its centre. The letter 'R' is on a corresponding shield about a third of the way in from the right. The royal crown is crved at a central position on the beam. The remaining carving shows mythical beasts.
Ipswich Historic Lettering:  T Rush beam 2 Ipswich Historic Lettering:  T Rush beam 1

Here are the two halves of the bressumer with the central royal crown shown on both. Scroll down for the bressumer in place on the Underwoods shop in the 1960s.
Ipswich Historic Lettering:  T Rush beam 32016 images

Ken Nichols has supplied this information:
"You requested more information about the 'R' on the beam near St Stephen's. It is the R of Thomas Rush [or Russhe] 1487-1537 who apart from being an important man in the town and country funded the rebuilding (I believe the south area) of St Stephen's Church. There is also a 'T' for Thomas on the south side (or doorway) I need to check where, I gained these notes from a town guide."

Another source is Ryan Rush's blog about his ancestor:
"In 1490, Thomas Rush was born in Sudbourne, Suffolk, England.  He gained favour with the Tudor monarchy, first with King Henry VII and later with his son Henry VIII, who knighted him in 1533 at the coronation of Anne Boleyn [the year before he was made sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk.].  He married Anne Rivers of Ipswich. In 1543 Sir Thomas became the father of another Thomas.  This Thomas served briefly in the House of Commons."
[***Note that Thomas Rush's lifespan of 1487-1537 gives the lie to the date of "early 17th century" on the beam's information plaque, given that the bressumer came from Rush's Ipswich house.]

Thomas Rush was a friend of Cardinal Wolsey (c.1475-1530; Henry VIII's first Lord Chancellor and Ipswich's most famous son). Rush survived the fallout from Wolsey's downfall and attached himself to Wolsey's successor, Thomas Cromwell. Sir Thomas Rush is interred in the nearby
Church of St. Stephen in Ipswich, which is now the Tourist Information Centre and art gallery. Sir Thomas' most famous name-bearing descendant is Dr Benjamin Rush, signer of the United States Declaration of Independence in 1776. Dr Rush is Sir Thomas' descendant through the latter's eponymous son.

[UPDATE 27.2.2012: Eventually, in early 2012, we solved the problem of the missing 'T' of 'Thomas Rush'.  It took two visits to St Stephen's Church, two good walks round the exterior and one round the interior, consultation with the Tourist Information officer inside, reading of a free sheet on the church and a 'phone call from within to one of their local history experts. It is now clear that the wealthy and important Sir Thomas Rush endowed the church in order that a chapel be built on the south side of the nave dedicated to him. Looking at the exterior south wall of the church seems initially unpromising until one realises that the third buttress down the wall from the 'Wilkinson end' is rather wide and contains an arch.
Ipswich Historic Lettering:  T Rush buttress 6   Ipswich Historic Lettering:  T Rush buttress 8
Ipswich Historic Lettering:  T Rush buttress 3   Ipswich Historic Lettering:  T Rush buttress 7
Above: to the right of the large buttress is a memorial plaque:
'[Near to this spot lies the]
who Died 15 April 1750
Aged 57 Years.
Also LUKE his Son
who Died 13 Jan. 1742[?]
Aged 28 Years.'

Ipswich Historic Lettering:  T Rush buttress 5aComposite 2016 photograph of the buttress
The area of interest is above the small blocked arch where a Rush family crest borne by two angels
carved in stone was once in place in the masonry. The initials 'T' to the upper left and 'R' to the upper right commemorated the donor; the 'R' is long gone as is the crest. However, if you look carefully there is a curly initial 'T', roughly similar to that used on a well-known daily newspaper masthead: Ipswich Historic Lettering:  T Rush buttress 'T'
Ipswich Historic Lettering:  T Rush buttress 2
The letterform is one form of the Lombardic alphabet and these examples show variants: carved in stone and calligraphically:
Ipswich Historic Lettering:  T Rush Lombard T
Our image includes an enhancement to show the decorative character 'T' with hints at the shield shape which seems to have surrounded it.* There are traces of the decorative scoring which was incised into the letter. We learn that the blocked arch was a tiny doorway through the centre of this wider-than-normal buttress; it gave access to the private chapel. Clearly, they built people much smaller in those days.]
*See also the Church of St Margaret for the use of two Lombardic characters in the fabric of the church: 'T' and 'M'.
[UPDATE 19.3.2020: metal barriers have been erected on this site; one wonders if the once-mooted sympathetic refurbishment of this buttress is going ahead? The stonework is certainly cleaner than shown in the 2016 photographs.]
Ipswich Historic Lettering:  T Rush buttress 2020   Ipswich Historic Lettering:  T Rush buttress 20202020 images
Once the barriers have been cleared away, we can take a closer look at the cleaning. The surface does appear to have been scoured. It's difficult to make out whether the Lombardic 'T' at top left is as crisp as it was when covered in grime.
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Sir Thomas Rush and Thomas Alvard
Robert Malster in A history of Ipswich (see Reading list) tells us more of Sir Thomas Rush and Thomas Alvard following the dissolution of the monasteries ordered
(taking a leaf out of his former Chancellor, Wolsey’s book) by Henry VIII.

‘That there were such rich pickings to be had is shown by the fact that in 1535 the clear temporal income of the Priory of Holy Trinity was over £69 and-a-half, spiritual over £18 and-a-half, giving a total of over £88. Primarily the pickings went to the Crown, but there were others able to pick up a bargain on the way. Two men who benefited from the events in Ipswich were Sir Thomas Rush and his stepson and son-in-law Thamas Alvard (Rush married the widow of Thomas Alvard the elder, Thomas’s mother, and young Thomas married Rush’s daughter by an earlier marriage). Rush had been made the king’s [Henry VII’s] serjeant-at-arms in 1508 and continued in the king’s service until 1530s; it may have his familiarity with the court which introduced his stepson to the service of Cardinal Wolsey at the time he was setting up his college in Ipswich. The friendship of Wolsey’s servant, Thomas Crowell, proved an invaluable investment, for when Wolsey fell Alvard followed Cromwell into the king’s service.

‘Having served as attorney for the college with his nephew William Bamburgh, Rush was able to offer his inside knowledge of Wolsey’s affairs to the royal administration; and Alvard was able to do the same. In doing so they were able to pick up some of the spoils.’ Rush was on the county commission to enquire into Wolsey's late lands in 1530, and both he and Alvard did well out of the Crown leases in this property.

Thomas Rush was also elected to represent Ipswich in parliament in 1523. In 1534 Rush and Alvard were
elected as joint representatives of  Ipswich to Westminster. Alavard died the next year and Rush two years later.

Rush and Alvard were canny political survivors and they certainly had an eye to business. When, after the Cardinal's fall, Wolsey’s college was closed down and the fabric dismantled and stockpiled on the site, it was appropriated by the king. Much of it was transported to Westminster (to be used on the building of Whitehall Palace?). Some idea of the scale of the college campus can be guaged from the fact that the Exchequer accounts of 1531 record 1,300 tons of Caen stone (initially imported from Normandy – Ipswich doesn’t have local supplies of stone) and 600 tons of flints (initially brought to Ipswich from the cliffs in Harwich).

The southern chapel at St Stephen should more correctly be called the Rush-Alvard Chapel (see the link below to the paper by Blatchly and MacCulloch). Ogilby's map of 1674 features illustrations of the medieval churches in Ipswich including this church, with the doorway through the central buttress clearly shown:
Ipswich Historic Lettering: St Stephen Church 16741674 view
St Stephen has a painted royal arms of Charles II inside the church. It features, below the royal crest, two small figures who reappear in the arms on The Ancient House, the Church of St Margaret and the Church of St Clement. For more discussion on this, see our Church of St Clement page under
'The royal arms of Charles II: who are these people?'.

Sir Thomas Rush's house, Upper Brook Street
Further research turned up a learned paper by Diarmaid MacCulloch and Dr John Blatchly published by The Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History: 'Recent discoveries at St Stephen's Church, Ipswich, the Wimbill Chancel and the Rush-Alvard Chapel'. This splendid piece of work encompasses all the elements mentioned above and more.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Thos Rush map 16741674 map

'Using a modified section of Ogilby's map of 1674 (Fig. 22) it is now possible to show the extent of the Rush premises. The property (p) became 32 Upper Brook St., and both Haslewood and Woolnough, who were able to examine the buildings in the 1930s, suggested that one or two adjoining properties to the south were once part of the same building. The carved bressumer was formerly on No. 40 (u), and it is entirely reasonable that the Rush frontage ran the whole distance represented by the dotted line. The indenture of 1518 by which Rush leased the parsonage garden from the incumbent for 99 years at an annual rent of 4 shillings defines the plot precisely as (r) adjoining Rush's garden (q) to the east and the parsonage itself (s) on the west. William Neve, wheelwright, was the occupier to the south. From his extended grounds Rush could then survey the entire south side of the church to which he was to add so much. It is appropriate, though coincidental, that today his bressumer at (t) overlooks the family chapel [buttress entrance arrowed m], and that each bears one initial to make up T.R.'
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Rush map aerial 20152015 aerial view
Below: overlaying up the 1674 map onto today's aerial view (and lining up the church and St Stephens Chuch Lane) shows clearly that the Rush bressumer was sited on a section of the old Ipswich Building Society offices (u) – quite surprisingly close to the Tacket Street junction. It is clear also that the line of Dogs Head Street has been altered over the centuries. The potential frontage of Rush's house (from u up to p) covers the footprint of all of  today's Sainsbury's store.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Rush map comparison
See also our Withypolls memorials page for Sir Thoma Rush's role (along with his neighbour, Sir Humphrey Wingfield) in the sale of the Holy Trinity Priory site and the early days of Christchurch Mansion.

Underwood's shop

'It was in 1970 that all the buildings on the west side of the street from St Stephen's Church Lane southward (Nos. 28 to 40) were demolished, and the present C. & A. and Sainsburys premises were built on the site. Only the elaborately carved bressumer beam from the street front of No. 40 (next door but one to No. 32) was saved; it is now mounted on the west wall of C. & A. facing the east end of St Stephen's church (Fig. 21). The beam has on it three shields which carry, separately, a merchant's mark, a chevron, and a letter R, also a Royal crown with dragon and lion supporters. There are winged beasts, probably gryphons, on either side of the R. Rush's badge as serjeant-at-arms to the King would have been the Royal crown, and that and the R on the beam point to him.' (
MacCulloch & Blatchly)
Ipswich Historic Lettering: UnderwoodsCourtesy Ipswich Society Image Archive
Above: the shops now occupied by Sainsbury and Wilkinson in the 1960s. Signs for 'Price's Boots' and the 'Coach & Horses Hotel' (far left) are visible.
next door to:
It is clear from the vertical, white 'UNDERWOODS' sign that the business occupied the building with the green signboards and the shop beyond it (which appears to have a rooftop signboard, too). The carved bressumer beam from the Rush house was heavily painted as part of the shop-front and probably largely unnoticed by passers-by. The remarkable photograph below comes from The Ipswich Society's Image Archive (see Links). It shows a close-up of the Underwood's shop sign with the bressumer beneath it.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Underwoods bressumer beam1960s image courtesy Ipswich Society
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Underwoods bressumer beam 2
Above: a detail from the 'conserved' bressumer currently on the rear of the replacement building. The paint layers removed, but also a part of the beam around the tail of the creature to the left of the crown. The crispness of the carving can now be appreciated. In the days when it adorned the merchant's house, it would have been colourfully painted, picking out details such as the blazon and royal crown.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Underwoods adAdvertisement 1965

The comparative images below show the clearance of shops for the building of the Sainsbury store on the west side of Upper Brook Street in the foreground. The northern part of the Sainsbury store would have been the site of Sir Thomas Rush's house. On the far left is the Ipswich Building Society branch which is on the corner with Dogs Head Street. On the right is the curved brick building which in 1934 replaced timber-framed structures: 'Alexander Outfitters' on the illuminated hanging sign at first floor level and the Avis Cook audio and television store in the foreground (1-5 Tacket Street).
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Rush house location   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Rush house Wilko
The present-day photograph shows the Wilkinson store with St Stephens Church lane at the right and the beginning of the Sainsbury site at the left.
Shop addresses in Lower Brook Street in 2016 (it appears that the numbering of the properties in the 16th century varies from the postal addresses today):
Boreham Christopher Jewellers
26A Upper Brook St, Ipswich IP4 1EB

[St Stephens Church Lane]

Wilkinson store (formerly C&A)
28-32 Upper Brook St, Ipswich IP4 1EB

38-40 Upper Brook St, Ipswich IP4 1EB

Kaspa’s (formerly Ipswich Building Society offices, formerly The Dog’s Head In A Pot public house)
42-44 Upper Brook St, Ipswich IP4 1EB

28-32 would appear to indicate the width of Sir Thomas Rush’s house on Lower Brook Street: the site currently occupied by Sainsbury’s (today numbered 38-40). Scroll down this page to learn more about the complex world of Thomas Rush and his remarkable survival as a politician at Court.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Rush house location 1900Photo courtesy John Field
John Field sends this remarkable view of Upper Brook Street with original timber-framed buildings in situ. Symonds the chemist's shop projects dramatically into the road north of the Butter Market junction, leaving a narrow lane for traffic and pedestrians. This photograph is clearly taken before  road-widening, so pre-1900, perhaps 1880-90. The shop which John believes was the home of Thomas Rush is (probably) the one second from the left, with its two dormer windows: Underwoods shop. It certainly bears a bressumer beam above the shop-front and presumably it is the beam displayed close to the Church of St Stephen, to the rear of these buildings. More research to come. Incidentally, the Ipswich windows at the immediate left remind us just how many fine – and once wealthy – houses were lost from this street.

Mansions in Ipswich
As a footnote,
today's rather uninspiring urban scene around the southern end of Upper Brook Street was home to three wealthy, prestigious mansions belonging to powerful and noble inhabitants.
1. The Duke of Suffolk had a mansion in Upper Brook Street, opposite that of Thomas Rush (1487-1537), not as we first thought on the site of the building at 39 Upper Brook Street containing the archway leading to the old Woolworth car park (shown in the photograph below painted pink and with a balustrade at roof level). The current building here was built by Charles Cullingham to act as his Steam Brewery Tap for the Victorian brewery he built behind it. Both were later taken over by Tollemache and renamed the Steam Brewery Inn/Brewery Inn; it closed for business in 1920. The part to the north of the archway has been empty and near-derelict for years; to the south, the tiny bag shop Can-Can has operated successfully***. The late Duke of Suffolk wouldn't recognise the place today. However, Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk (c.1484-1545), is said to have lived next door where the former Coach and Horses Inn, 41 Upper Brook Street, still stands (whose coach houses may have been the last remaining parts of the Duke's house), and adjoining the possible Brandon property fronting Tacket Street. The Coach and Horses Inn operated as a coaching inn from 1787 or earlier and closed for business in 1977. It is now mainly a charity shop, but still bears the 'Winged Wheel' symbol of the Cycling Tourist Club, as described on our Roundels page. For a 1902 map of this area see our Symonds for Kodaks page; it clearly shows an 'Inn' to the north and an 'Hotel' to the south of the entry.
[***UPDATE November 2018: The Steam Brewery Tap/Tavern has, at long last, been modernised and rescued from dilapidation, forming a retail shop fronting Upper Brook Street with, presumably, separate accommodation behind. It's no longer pink.]
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Coach& Horses 32016 image
2. The town house built by Sir Humphrey Wingfield (c.1481-1545) of Brantham Hall, some four miles south of the town on the Suffolk-Essex  border. It fronted Tacket Street and is described on our Courts & Yards page in the section marked 'Tankard Street'. 
3. Thomas Seckford's (1515-1587) 'Great Place' in Westgate Street as described in our Lost Ipswich signs page under the section 'Before Willis'.
Another perhaps surprising mansion – more of a palace.
4. Hatton Court, off Tavern Street, was the site of the home of Christopher Hatton (1540–1591) who was born and lived in a fine White House, now replaced by an 18th century house of timber, brick and plaster: the corner house (Listed Grade II), now Church's Bistro with a wing at nos. 2 and 3  Hatton Court (now part of McDonald's). He was considered a 'liberal patron of learning and eminent for his piety, charity and integrity.' Sir Christopher ingratiated himself, by his elegant and graceful dancing, into the favour of Queen Elizabeth I and became Lord Chancellor in 1587. Which reminds us of that other Lord Chancellor from Ipswich, Thomas Wolsey (c.1475-1530) who had his eye on...
5. The town house of Robert styled 'Lord' Curson (c.1460-1534/5) on St Peters Street, described on our Curson Lodge and Wolsey's College pages.
6. Stoke Hall, next to St Mary-At-Stoke, Church was built by the wine merchant Thomas Cartwright in 1744/5 and was later occupied by the engineering entrepreneur, Robert James Ransome (1830-1891).
7. The wealthy merchants of the town would want a central, prestigious house as they gained great riches. Henry Tooley, William Smart, Robert Felaw, Richard Purplett and others would be amongst them. It would only be in the 19th century that, to escape the overcrowding and pollution, the wealthy would seek to build their houses in the leafier surrounding areas (see, for example Upland Gate).

All this is a testament to the social, political and economic significance of Ipswich throughout history and particularly in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Our Roundels page repeats the above photograph with others of this location with further commentary.

The Conservative Club, St Stephen's Church Lane

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Conservative Club  Ipswich Historic Lettering: Conservative Club crusader2014 images
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Conservative Club 52018 image
We had dismissed this lettering for many years, perhaps because of politics, perhaps because it has always looked worn and run down. However, in updating the St Stephens Church section (above), we passed it again and decided it ought after all to be included. The left panel is in rather poorer nick than the right, perhaps due to vandalism (it doesn't say much for the quality of the ceramic tiles which make up the signs), but the figure of the crusader bearing the huge Union Flag banner is unmistakable. The yellow has worn better than the blue, it must be said. The entrance to:
is in a narrow passageway leading from the church to Upper Brook Street called St Stephen's Church Lane. This is distinct from St Stephen's Lane which leads up from Dog's Head Street, past The Sun Inn and – after Arras Square – runs up alongside The Ancient House to come out opposite Dial Lane. See our Soane Street page for a note from Dr James Bettley regarding the Freemasons' move from this building in St Stephens Church Lane to the new Freemasons' Hall near Christchurch Mansion.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: St Stephen's Church La. 3The metal street sign at the Upper Brook Street end
At a later visit we noticed some lettering on the wall adjacent to The Conservative Club and towards St Stephen's Church (close to the Con Club "smoker's ghetto"):
'E.L.D.   C.H.D.'
with a stone block set into the wall above it, resembling a boundary marker(?). See our gallery of Boundary markers for information and images. What do the initials stand for?
Ipswich Historic Lettering: St Stephen's Church La. 2   Ipswich Historic Lettering: St Stephen's Church La. 12014 images
Now that we know that this building was the original home of the Freemasons, perhaps this has a bearing on the initials. We assume that they relate to Worshipful Masters or Grand Viziers of the day. This original Masonic Hall is the design of E.I. Bell (the only work by this architect in Ipswich, we think) in 1865. To confirm the Masonic connection, at the eastern end of the building is an external apse (an arc of a circle in plan) shown below; this appears to be a convention for Masonic Lodges, providing an 'altar' feature in the main meeting hall(s). A similar feature can be seen on our Soane Street page, along with the original foundation plaque for this earlier Lodge.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Conservative Club 42018 image
An unprepossessing set of palings hides bins and other clutter, but the apse is clearly visible. A few yards from here is The Sun Inn, reputed to have been commissioned to be built as a Masonic Hall in the 17th century.

The complex world of Thomas Rush and his son-in-law, Thomas Alvard (taken from the MacCulloch & Blatchly paper – cited above, under the heading
"Sir Thomas Rush's house")
'The genealogy of the Alvards and Rushes is complicated enough, but once one starts examining their affairs, a picture of equal complexity emerges, of connections administrative, commercial and official, among layman and cleric, amid town and country. If Anne Rivers' first two husbands had careers which were conventional enough, Thomas Rush's was of quite a different sort. His pedigree's significant silence about his origins indicates that they were obscure; he probably came from Lincolnshire, for his career was founded on his service to the Lincolnshire and Suffolk aristocratic family of the Lords Willoughby of Eresby, who brought several Lincolnshire families to live in south-east Suffolk. He was among Christopher Lord Willoughby's servants when Willoughby made his will in 1499, and he would be William Lord Willoughby's executor in 1526; he made his home at Sudbourne near the Willoughbys' Suffolk headquarters at Orford, and had much to do with the nearby monastery at Butley, which had strong Willoughby connections.' It was probably through his influence that his brother-in-law Augustine Rivers moved from being Prior of Woodbridge to become Prior of Butley (a much larger Augustinian house) in 1509; Rush and his son-in-law the younger Thomas Alvard would remain close associates of Rivers' successor, the Sudbourne boy Thomas Manning, last Prior of Butley. Rush was steward of both Woodbridge and Butley Priories in 1535.

Quite early in his career, however, Rush's Willoughby links seem also to have given him an entrée into royal service. He was already described as the King's servant in 1508, when he was made Serjeant-at-Arms; in 1513 he was seeing service in the first of Henry VIII's absurd French military adventures, and he would continue to serve in the wars. From 1517 he was enjoying a shilling a day from the Crown for life. He was made a Knight of the Sword at Anne Boleyn's coronation in 1533. It was probably his familiarity with the Court which introduced his stepson and son-in-law Thomas Alvard to the service of Cardinal Wolsey, perhaps appealing to the belated sense of affection for his home town which the Cardinal discovered after his visit of 1517; the Wolsey connection brought them an invaluable future investment in the shape of the friendship of Wolsey's servant Thomas Cromwell. When Wolsey's credit collapsed in 1528-9, Alvard and Cromwell would hasten into the King's service, and they would continue to have a fruitful relationship; Alvard and Rush, with their friend Prior Manning of Butley, would be Cromwell's most valuable contacts in Suffolk during the 1530s.

The way in which Rush and Alvard followed Cromwell into the royal service is neatly illustrated by their involvement in both the creation and the destruction of Cardinal College, Ipswich. Rush served as attorney for the College with William Bamburgh (his nephew and Alvard's brother-in-law), and he was naturally prominent among those giving presents to the College on its opening in 1528; equally naturally he was the recipient of College leases. However, when Wolsey's crash came and the lands of his foundation were dispersed to suit the King, Rush and Alvard could offer the royal administration their inside knowledge of Wolsey's affairs in supervising the carve-up, and could also do themselves a good turn in picking up some of the spoils; Rush was on the county commission to enquire into Wolsey's late lands in 1530, and both he and Alvard did well out of the Crown leases in this property. Why not? It was too late to save the College, and their old master ,the Cardinal, was past harming.

Why did Rush decide to make an alliance with the Ipswich Alvards rather than among the Suffolk county gentry? Perhaps his Lincolnshire origins and their obscurity meant that he was not acceptable in county society, and so he chose to make his way into the very separate world of the merchants of Ipswich; in the event, both his wives would be the widows of wealthy Ipswich merchants. His marriage to Anne Rivers meant that he inherited the elder Alvard's capital messuage in St Stephen's parish, to which in 1518 he added a garden of the parsonage leased from Thomas Paccarde the incumbent. It would be natural for him to mark his steadily more successful career by building on Alvard's foundation of a temporary four-year chantry service in the church to create a family aisle fit for the dignity of a Knight of the Sword. It is worth noting that he handed over the office of Customer at Ipswich to his associate John Valentine (another Wolsey servant) in 1528; presumably by this time he felt that such a local commercial association was not appropriate to his status.

By this time, of course, Rush was fully integrated into the county elite outside the town of Ipswich, havingbecome a county J.P. sometimebetween1520 and 1524; his son joined him on the Bench in 1534 — a mark of the family's unusual status, for the Crown was normally reluctant to allow father and son to sit together as justices. This was a mark of Cromwell's high trust that the Rushes would serve his and the King's purpose in the county. By now family marriages were beginning to reflect this enhanced status: matches were arranged with Suffolk gentry families with Court links like those of the Rushes themselves, bringing in daughters of Sir Anthony Wingfield and the Duke of Suffolk's servant Nicholas Cutler.

The younger Alvard and Rush were both buried in St Stephen's; Rush's will is lost, but Alvard in his requested a marble stone showing his arms in the church. No doubt the monuments of the Rush and Alvard families were of the highest quality as befitted wealthy and powerful people. That Anne Rivers had a second memorial is indicated by the fifth coat of arms noted by William Tillotson in the church c. 1594. Of ten coats, the relevant ones are 4 Alvard; 5 Rush impaling Rivers; 7 Alvard; 9 Alvard impaling two coats: Rush and Darcy. The ninth coat will presumably have been on Alvard's marble stone; he must have married a Darcy before predeceasing Rush in 1535.

Although Rush seems to have been buried in the aisle which he had so lavishly created, there is no surviving evidence of a memorial for him. This may be because his eldest son Arthur died only a month after him in July 1537 and left a son and heir who can have been little more than a baby; Thomas Cromwell was Sir Thomas's chief executor, and it is likely that the political excitements of the next three years, culminating in his own fall and execution in 1540, distracted him from providing a monument. It may have been in the confusion of his fall that Rush's will disappeared from his papers; there is no evidence of probate. William Bamburgh of Rendlesham, one of the other executors and another old Willoughby servant from Lincolnshire, was preoccupied with disputes over the earlier will of the younger Thomas Alvard (his brother-in-law), and he also became entangled in a dispute with Sir Thomas's grandson, Anthony, over the administration of Sir Thomas's goods which dragged on as late as 1561, resulting in Bamburgh losing the administration. Meanwhile Sir Thomas's second wife, Christian, was caught up in the years after his death with her own set of testamentary disputes over the will of her first husband, the Ipswich bailiff and M.P. Thomas Baldry; in any case she may not have taken much interest in a chapel associated with Sir Thomas's first wife Anne. With such a combination of mishaps, it is hardly surprising that the Rush chapel at St Stephen's seems like an enterprise still-born. No later members of the family appear to have taken any interest in it.

Nevertheless, what had been erected in the Rush Chapel probably remained in a reasonable state up to the Civil War (1642–1651). Tillotson was able to note the heraldry of the monuments in the 1590s; Blois saw the main Alvard stone apparently intact on his visit, but in October 1657 Candler recorded sadly that 'the brasse hath been taken of from all the old monuments for lucre thereof in the times of the late unhappy warres'. His phrase seems specific enough to suggest that the brasses were removed for money before the visit of William Dowsing*, a supposition strengthened by the fact that Dowsing found only one 'popish inscription in Brass, pray for the Soul', on his visit on 30 January 1644. The Alvard — Rivers — Wimbill matrix remained to be drawn by Davy in August 1829, so its burial must have taken place during the last century restorations. It lay in 1829 where it was found buried in 1985, near the centre of the western bay of the chapel. Today, this slab and the single Lombardic letter T on the external aisle buttress are the only remains to testify to this mausoleum of a remarkable trio of men of affairs, their much-married spouses and their uniquely labyrinthine genealogies.'

[*William Dowsing (1596–1668) was an English iconoclast who operated at the time of the English Civil War. Dowsing was a puritan soldier who was born in Laxfield, Suffolk. In 1643 he was appointed by their captain-general, the Earl of Manchester, as 'Commissioner for the destruction of monuments of idolatry and superstition' to carry out a Parliamentary Ordinance of 28 August 1643 which stated that 'all Monuments of Superstition and Idolatry should be removed and abolished', specifying: 'fixed altars, altar rails, chancel steps, crucifixes, crosses, images of the Virgin Mary and pictures of saints or superstitious inscriptions.' In May 1644 the scope of the ordinance was widened to include representations of angels (a particular obsession of Dowsing's), rood lofts, holy water stoups, and images in stone, wood and glass and on plate.

Dowsing carried out his work in 1643–44 by visiting over 250 churches in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk, removing or defacing items that he thought fitted the requirements outlined in the ordinance. He recruited assistants, apparently among his friends and family, and where they were unable to perform the work themselves he left instructions for the work to be carried out. Sometimes the local inhabitants assisted his work, but often he was met by resistance or non-co-operation. His commission, backed up by the ability to call on military force if necessary, meant that he usually got his way. He charged each church a noble (a third of a pound) for his services.

When Manchester, his patron, fell out with Oliver Cromwell in late 1644, his commission ceased. Dowsing is unique amongst those who committed iconoclasm during this period because he left a journal recording much of what he did, with many detailed entries.]

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