Standing proudly on the corner of Eagle Street and Fore Street...
The Spread Eagle public house stands on the
Eagle Street (naturally) and Fore Street. The modern 'frosted' sign on
this Grade II Listed*** building states that this is the "oldest
the Suffolk CAMRA site (see Links) dates it
to the 16th or 17th century ("The spread eagle was originally a Roman
sign and later used by many countries including Austria, Germany,
Russia, Spain & France. The sign is also used by many English noble
families. Its popularity as an inn sign owes a lot to the fact that it
was the device of Catherine of Aragon." See our Lady
Lane page for mention of Catherine of Arargon's visit to Ipswich in
1517.) The Old Bell over Stoke Bridge is also reputedly the oldest
pub in Ipswich, it is believed to date from the early 16th century and
was first recorded in 1639. The Spread Eagle is the last remaining
house of those which once stood on the four corners of this junction.
Photograph above right: to the right of the building with the spire in
the background is Lower Orwell Street.
***"A C16-C17 timber-framed and plastered building with exposed framing
on the upper storey with bracing from vertical member to vertical
member, a feature peculiar to East Anglia. The ground storey has been
underbuilt in brick. 2 storeys. 2 window range on the Fore Street front
and 2 window range on Eagle Street, casements with lattice leaded
lights. Roof tiled. The building has been restored and altered."
There is a Topal Tea vestigial sign in
The other face of the Spread Eagle carries
iron street nameplate with curved-section frame (unpainted), clamped
into place by the usual angled nails. If it wasn't for the superior 'T'
on this sign, we would all – given the tendency of humankind to
conflate and summarise in our minds – be referring to this street as
"FOREST'. "I'll see you at the top of Forest" might be a commonplace
phrase between Ipswich inhabitants.
Just opposite this street sign is
the site of the Martin & Newby
Fore Street, even though a modest length (and
disjointed), plays host to whole range of important historic
lettering: Meremayd, Fore Street Baths, Isaac Lord, The
Neptune Inn, the 1620 newsagent
See the Street name derivations page
for the source of the name.
The Ipswich Society exhibition and website
'The Fore Street Facelift 1961' tells much more of the street, its
surroundings and its history.
Opposite the Spread Eagle is an unusual Ipswich Borough Council street
nameplate featuring the colour coat of arms
in a raised half circle above the street name. Looking at the shadow in
the painted brickwork, this clearly replaced a larger, older sign. See
our Felixstowe Road page for the
Levington Road street nameplate of a similar configuaration.
our Parliament Road page for the street
nameplate round the corner in Upper Orwell Street. There is an oval water hydrant medallion
to the left beneath the window-sill as a bonus (see Street furniture
for an explanation).
Corner entrance spandrels
These photographs of the spandrels on the corner entrance – now blocked
were taken on the Heritage Open Days in 2015. They were at the end of
another period refurbishment and paint makeover for the public house.
In fact the public house was open for the first time in some time,
despite some work being unfinished. The carvings show at above left
(Eagle Street side) the better-defined carving of a 'Spread Eagle' with
The close-up shows more detail. It is thought that this area has
largely been left like this. There seems to have been a number of
layers of paint scraped off and possible a layer of gesso: the white
material which would cover up detail. The brown varnish appears to have
been applied recently.
This masonic double-headed eagle with chunky, splayed legs and
right-angled wings may have influenced the carving.
Compare with one of the spandrels on The Old
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Historic Lettering site: Borin Van Loon
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