Stoke Hall Roadthe tunnels and 'Kirby Cottage'

Stoke Street
Alright, let's come clean. Apart from the street signs, there is little lettering here, not that we know of. However, this was too intriguing a story to let it get away.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall 12012 image
The above photograph was taken from the jaws of Rectory Road at the junction where Stoke Street to the right becomes Belstead Road. Just in passing, it is worth noting the sixties-style italic sans-serif caps (justified to the left) of the modernist building opposite:
Incidentally, it is just round the corner on the right of the above photograph that one can find some houses provided by the William Paul Tenement Trust (see More almshouses).

Stoke Hall Road
The tower of St Mary-At-Stoke Church can be seen behind it and this is an historic Ipswich (or rather Over Stoke) church which now has its own page on this website. The site of the church hall and the car park were once occupied by buildingw hich were originally cottages, then St Mary Stoke School and, further down and for a time, Stoke Parish Poor House. Once the Ipswich Union Workhouse with its large garden and vegetable plots was built in Great Whip Street, this workhouse building became part of the school. The buildings were later used by scouts and guides. Both buildings were demolished in 1966 to open up the view of the church from the road. Rather wonderfully, the person in the white motorcycle helmet wheeling a moped out of the gate in the wall in the pre-1964 image (below) is using the same gateway shown above beside the traffic light. It is this wall which is of interest.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall period
pre-1964 image
[UPDATE 2.9.2019: John Barbrook writes '...having lived in the road for my first 30 years (and been a member of St Mary at Stoke Church for the last 74 years – and the People’s Hall for the first 10), I can enthuse about a lot of the past (and mostly unremembered) history of the area which you describe (as can my wife, who was born in Rectory Road – of a lifetime railwayman). For example,  the old school once had four ‘floors’. A cellar, first floor, second floor and an ‘attic’. In the picture which you include, the scar of the dormer window still shows with its different-coloured roof tiles. I well remember working up on the roof (off scaffolding) helping Nelson Beales, a local jobbing builder, to take out the dormer – in the 1950s, I think – which, due to rotten roof timbers, was in danger of falling in.
But it was another Stoke “jobber” – Albert Kingham (our local ‘Mr Fixit’) who did a great deal for the church there, who offered to demolish all the old school buildings for nothing (simply for what materials he could recover). This was to both open up the church to the road and give us a long needed car park. Dear Albert – he did work hard.']

The high, decorative brick wall, seen at the left in the photographs above, continues up Belstead Road as far as Kirby Cottage; on the corner with Stoke Hall Road there is a brick pillar topped with a white ball finial (shown in the centre of the photograph below). It all suggests that the wall seems a bit tall and substantial for modest terraced houses. It seems clear that parts of this wall are a reconstruction made during the building of the houses in the early 20th century. Kirby Cottage, a listed building, stands at right-angles to Belstead Road and above the Stoke Hall site; it could well be that it provided quarters for servants of Stoke Hall.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall 3
Stoke Hall Road was the site of, guess what?: Stoke Hall. Not to be confused with the so-called "Stoke Hall" ('The People's Hall') near The Old Bell pub. Between 1898, when The People's Hall was built, and 1915, until the Stoke Hall behind St Mary-at-Stoke church was demolished, there were two 'Stoke Halls' within a few hundred yards of one another. The only thing left of the old hall is the stable block, but it contains a secret...
Stoke Hall was a large mansion house built by the wine merchant Thomas Cartwright in 1744/45 (see the illustrations towards the bottom of this web page). Cartwright also excavated beneath Stoke hill a large series of wine cellars, 18 in all, and a total of 180 feet in length.

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall 4

The Stoke Hall tunnels
The official listing describes the tunnels: "Vaulted wine cellars. Later C18, with some C19 and C20 modifications. red brick, with some flared headers, in English, Flemish mixed bonds. On 3 levels all underground, the upper level projecting further south towards the garden boundary of Landsdale Cottage and Belstead Road, the lower level extending further north towards Burrell Road, and formerly the river. Circa 180 feet in length. The lowest level comprises a single range of vaults, the middle level of both parallel and single ranges, the upper level a shorter parallel range. Part partitions between bays, those to lowest level with semicircular headed brick archways. Shallow brick vaulted roofs. Later brick side shelving at intervals. The second level was rendered during World War II for use as an air raid shelter. Brick floors, except to lowest level which descends to natural rock and sand. Brick spiral stair unites middle and lower levels. Blocked lower level circular hole in floor. Access to vaults now through superstructure. Evidence of further openings obscured by render. Said to have a capacity of 157, 500 gallons of wine. It is possible that these vaults were those built for Thomas Cartwright, winemerchant builder of Stoke Hall, now demolished, in 1747. The above ground warehouses, formerly stables etc to Stoke Hall, are not of special architectural or historic interest."
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall 5
The access to the tunnels is via an external staircase to the left of the large red door. To the right, you can see the sloping housing over a conveyor used to transport cases of wine; this was removed during wartime and a staircase installed for use as an air raid shelter. A conveyor is in situ today. One source states that up to 200 people could use the shelter during bombing raids, however, David Jones mentions 'more than 500 people' (see below). All this poses the question: what did the 18th century excavators find amongst the (presumably) fossil-rich soils of Stoke hill? We know that in 1846 when the Eastern Union Railway company's Peter Bruff engineered the tunnel through the hill (later called 'Stoke Bone Bed'), archaeologists, notably Nina Frances Layard (1853-1935), found fossilised evidence of exotic prehistoric animals, some of which can be seen today in Ipswich Museum. It is possible that the railway tunnel was cut through at a considerably lower level, which would be much earlier in geological time. In 2013 the main part of the old stables is occupied by Suffolk Marquees (see Links) with a motorcycle mechanic business next door. We are grateful to Ian of Suffolk Marquees for showing us round and sharing information about this intriguing site.

Tunnel exploration 2013
As one descends to the tunnels via the narrow external staircase, it becomes obvious how difficult it is to determine the age of any particular feature. The tunnels were used as air-raid shelters during World War II, when Ipswich docks and engineering works in particular were targets for the Luftwaffe. It seems clear that many of the features were probably built during the war. Small doorways and separation walls would be a nuisance when the tunnels were being used to store wine, but they would have been useful to protect those sheltering from bomb blasts. The rendering of the brickwork and girder lintels probably date from this time.

Wine cellars

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Tunnels 62013 images  Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Tunnels 10
A chamber cement-rendered during World War II and now painted white, opens onto a furhter room. Who knows about this wrought iron cell door at the end? Was it original? It covers the entrance to what has been called 'The Champagne Store', which contains connected ceramic pipes which would have made a rather effective method of storing the bottles on their sides. They are in a sorry state.

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Tunnels 11   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Tunnels 12  

Standing in front of a spiral staircase leading to a lower level are a couple of shaped timber frames which would have supported the wine bottles.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Tunnels 17   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Tunnels 20
The close-ups below indicate age in the timber, the impressed lettering:
standing presumably for 'Moet & Chandon', one of the world's largest champagne producers. Moët et Chandon was establishedin France in 1743. Thomas Cartwright, who had Stoke Hall and its tunnels built in the 1740s would, if we make the obvious assumption, have imported the wine in bottles by ship, landing at a nearby wharf, probably Stoke Bridge Wharf (see our Wet Dock map) and being brought up to the Hall by cart. Storing in the cool, dark conditions would be followed by distribution via a local company such as Barwell & Jones, who ran off licences in the area – in the 1980s we used to visit one on the corner of Rushmere Road and Schreiber Road. Incidentally, in 2013 Barwell & Jones is the independent wine agency business of the Coe Group. Ironically, Hayman, Barwell & Jones were rumoured to have a tunnel beneath their premises in Fore Street (The Wheatsheaf, shown on our Ancient House page) which linked to the Stoke Hall tunnels (see our paragraph on tunnel myths below).
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Tunnels 18   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Tunnels 19  

The tunnels as World War II air-raid shelter

Looking at the tunnel photograph (below left), to the right of the doorway can be seen a notice dating back to the wartime (a remarkable survival) , or perhaps more correctly, the impression of a notice left on the damp rendered wall:
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall tunnels 1   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Tunnels 15   
The text reads:-
Medical Attendance
at Public Air Raid Shelters.

[In an] emergency the following doctors have agreed
[to respond] to requests for assistance from Public
[Air] Raid Shelters in the vicinity of their house.

Fairway, Bucklesham, Road.
Phone No. 7295.

343, Colchester Road.
Phone No. 7177.

Dr. R.J. REA,
236A Felixstowe Road.
Phone No. 2469.

174, Norwich Road.
Phone No. 78807.

Dr. E. [W?] STADDON,
South Bank, Spring Road.
Phone No. 78807.

40 Berners Street.
Phone No. 3259.

Dr. L.M. HAMP,
7 Dalton Road.
Phone No. 2469.

[Final passage unreadable.]
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Tunnels 9
A metal flue would have provided ventilation and the patina of rust demonstrates the effects of the extreme dampness of the atmosphere in the tunnels. The introduction of hundreds of individuals during Air-Raid alerts would have greatly increased the humidity in the tunnels.

The photograph below is a peach. The arrow and lettering:
must surely date back to the air raids, but look undegraded by time and dampness. No doubt the rickety, rusty ladder is a later addition, but climbing up it gives a view of the original brickwork vaulting (shown below).
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Tunnels 25
Tunneled into the stony, sandy Stoke Hill, then lined out as a weight-bearing barrel-vault in Suffolk red brick: quite a feat in the difficult conditions and lack of access. The image to the right is looking vertically at the apex of a barrel-vault with a ventilation flue in the centre.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Tunnels 29   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Tunnels 23
Former Ipswich Museum curator, David Jones’ fine book Ipswich in the Second World War (see Reading List) tells us more:-
“The largest public shelters were the pre-existing cellars in Stoke Hall Road, the only shelter [in Ipswich] to hold more than 500 people. The records suggest a shelter de luxe. Like other public shelters, it had illuminated signs which were switched on in line with the blackout and off at 10.30 or during an alert. It was heated by a Cara stove. It had its own stirrup-pump, two buckets and fire extinguishers. In addition to a first aid box, [part] was set aside for a casualty holding section provided with extra lights. The emergency exit was purposely widened to take stretchers. A small canteen was set up at which tea and biscuits could be bought. (There were others at Smiths Suitall, Smyth Brothers, Central Cinema, Smiths Albion House, Co-op Furnishing Department and the Lads Club cellars.) As the intensity of raids diminished so, too, did the numbers using the shelters regularly. The Emergency Committee found, on 3 April 1944, '21 familes, 46 persons use the shelter habitually. Nine had no domestic shelters, two Andersons with bunks, six Andersons no bunks and four Morrisons. The shelter families allowed to continue to use Stoke Hall but felt that the Morrisons would be reallocated if needed.'
By 1 March 1945 only 14 people were still using the shelter so part of it could be closed."

Rubber tyre storage
Not too long ago, the tunnels were used by a tyre company to store their wares. There are a great deal of chalked (and sometimes painted) stock numbers and descriptions on the wall. The chalk seems to blossom out from the damp cement surface. As you can see by the right-hand images below, some tyres still lie around in one part of the catacombs.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Tunnels 3   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Tunnels 24

St Mary-at-Stoke Church
The relationship between the 1744/5 Hall and the nearby St Mary-at-Stoke Church is illustrated by the photographs below. This substantial wall, about 7 feet high, divides the churchyard from the present gardens of the houses on the east side of Stoke Hall Road. The Hall had its own entrance to the churchyard, although we hadn't been able to locate it until Heritage Open Days in 2019 – see our St Mary-at-Stoke Church page for photographs. The fascade of the Hall would have stood about a third of the way into the present Stoke Hall Road, with fairly narrow gardens leading up to the drive just the other side of this wall Apparently, long before Stoke Street and Burrell Road (see Street name derivations) existed, a sloping drive was cut into the rather precipitous hill on which the church stands, but outside the wall line which still exists. It followed the curve of the churchyard wall and eventually led to the circular drive by the front door. A staircase apparently still exists at the Burrell Road end of the Stoke Hall stables site and runs down what we can only describes as 'the cliff' which overlooks the small gardens at the back of the Burrell Road houses. The stairs lead to yet another entrance to the tunnels. There was a summer house/gazebo in the gardens at the top which would have overlooked the upper part of the River Orwell in the much wider, pre-canalised river at or near the foot of the cliff (see the illustrations below).
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Tunnels 36   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Tunnels 37
Stoke Hall suffered perhaps from the location which made it desirable in the first place. It was probably one of several residences built up Belstead Road in what would have been quite remote, private spots. As time moved on and road, then rail, and housing development in Over Stoke grew, the sizeable house would be seen to be on a restricted piece of land, less desirable for wealthy owners perhaps because of the proximity of heavy industry, smoke, noise and so on, not to mention the working classes. Perhaps the number of owners and the decay and eventual demolition in 1915 is not such a surprise, when The Ipswich & Suffolk Freehold Land Society, who bought the site, had been at the forefront of building affordable housing (notably in 'California' – discussed in our Rosehill case study page) for large numbers of inhabitants of the Victorian town.

John Bleadon
From Colleen McDonald 13.7.2015
John Bleaden of Stoke
Hello, I'm on the ancestor hunt and came across your website. I'm hoping you can fill in some gaps for me. I am wondering what the connection the Bleaden family is to Stoke Hall and to Ipswich. Do you have any idea what Stoke Hall was in 1819?
My 4th Great Grandfather, John Bleaden's obit:
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Bleadon 1   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Bleadon 2Memorial in St Mary Stoke Church

 Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Bleadon 3Marriage details of Mary Bleadon, 1803
Images courtesy Colleen McDonald

Tunnel myths
Having no idea as to their origin, people began making up tales about these underground workings, that were used as air raid shelters in World War Two. A tunnel was said to lead from there to the 'folly' called Freston Tower, on the banks of the Orwell. Probably built between 1550-1560 by Edmund Latymer, this red bricked six-storey building was perhaps a 'standing' or look-out tower of some kind. A second passage from Stoke Hall ran to Greyfriars Priory, near where the ring road (here Franciscan Way) crosses Princes Street. The priory was founded sometime before 1236, and only a segment of flint walling now remains, incorporated into the Greyfriars Concourse. On the north side of the river, the Woolpack pub  in Tuddenham Road is said to have had smuggler's tunnels running south to the dock area. There are allegedly deep (and supposedly haunted) cellars beneath the Fore Street site of the wine merchant Hayman, Barwell & Jones, which are said to form part of a system of tunnels. They are rumoured to link up with the Ancient House in Buttermarket, the 19th century Custom House in Key Street, Christchurch Mansion to the north, and the site of Holywells manor to the south-east. The Coach and Horses Inn used to stand in Lower Brook Street. On the opposite side of the road were the premises of Messrs. E. L. Hunt, that were on the site of a mansion house owned by Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk and husband of Mary Tudor. A tunnel was said to connect the two.
The Ancient House (or Sparrowe's House) stands in the Buttermarket, at the corner of St. Stephen's Lane.  In 1801 a workman falling thru the roof came upon a hidden room, supposedly part of a pre-Reformation chapel. It has long been believed that Charles II was secreted in that room after the battle of Worcester in 1651, and thus has arisen the tale of his escape by secret tunnel from the Ancient House to Alnesbourne Priory in Nacton parish, about 3 miles away. Now Priory Farm, the only part remaining of this Augustinian house, founded around 1200, is a part of the wall of a barn. Not too far away from the Buttermarket is The Halberd (later Paddy McGinty's) pub in Northgate Street, where a bricked-up entrance into Ipswich's vast tunnel system is to be found in the cellar. The ghostly monk that haunts the pub is said to have helped someone come from 'the monastery' through the tunnels, and for his pains was murdered by being drowned in the old well that can be seen in the lower bar.

Urban myth heaven: if we desire
hard enoughsomething to be true, it may just become true. Many such myths can be found on The Lost Expedition: in search of legends, stories and tales from around Suffolk website (see Links).

The Hall
Sale of Stoke Hall
As mentioned, Stoke Hall was a large mansion house built by the wine merchant Thomas Cartwright in 1744/45. Cartwright also excavated beneath Stoke hill a vast series of wine cellars (detailed above).

In 1819 the Hall was described in a sale notice in The Bury and Norwich Post
[click title for a PDF of the article] for Suffolk, Essex, Cambridge, Ely, and Norfolk Telegraph (Wednesday November 1819 (no. 1951), page 1. The sale followed the death of the owner John Bleadon. The gardens are described as some sort of Elysium:
It might be invidious to select any particular spot to panegyrise the views with which this enviable property abounds; but it may be permitted to state that from one extremity of the Plantation to the North, which is protected from the wintry wind by the wide spreading oaks, the view of the Church, hanging in majestic grandeur over the thriving shrubbery, forms an object that cannot well be seen without being properly appreciated. In one of the Meadows is the Water Course (or House); from this source a considerable part of the town of Ipswich is supplied with water, which at present gives an income of near 100 pounds a year, and from which a large one may safely be contemplated.’ See also our page on Water in Ipswich.

In 1892 the Hall was up for sale following the death of the owner Robert James Ransome (1830-1891) of Ransomes and Rapier, railway engineers, whose factory was quite close by at the Waterside Works on Griffin Wharf (see our Wet Dock map). See our précis of the company at the bottom of this page. The auctioneers described it as a “Fine Old Mansion” boasting three reception rooms, billiard room, six principal bedrooms on the first floor, seven more bedrooms on the second floor, with kitchens, offices, greenhouse, stabling, pleasure and
kitchen gardens, all standing in 1 acre three roods of land and adjacent to the church of St Mary-at-Stoke. Written in the margin of the auctioneer’s notices of 1892 are details of (what appear to be) subsequent owners including Dr Elliston, Miss Battersly of Cauldwell Hall, and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners who sold it to the Ipswich Freehold Land Society in July 1914. During its time in the ownership of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners it was under consideration for use as the residence of the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, being next to the church and with the Hall having its own entrance to the churchyard. The house in its decayed state was pulled down in 1915 at a cost of £50, but the cellars remained. Stoke Hall Road was created with a row of F.L.S. houses which we see today. The stables of the Hall were not demolished and continued to be used – latterly by a local removals company then a motor repair shop. We must be careful to distinguish between Stoke Hall and the mansion and grounds of Lord Gwydyr's Stoke Park, which was not far away (see our Bourne Park page for an image and description), near today's Fountains Road on the Stoke Park housing estate.

These illustrations of Stoke Hall show a substantial Georgian residence overlooking the Gipping valley below.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall drawing   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall engraving
Below: a photograph of Stoke Hall from c. 1905 plus description by the Over Stoke Local History Group which gives further morsels of information about the house and grounds.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall photo

On Pennington's map of 1778 (detail below) we can see St Mary Stoke Church at the lower left
corner of this map detail, with Stoke Hall, then the stable block to the south-west of it. The line of 'Stoke Lane' (now Stoke Street) comes up from The Old Bell (shown in brown) corner curving steeply left, then right as it does today, past the 'Work House' (shown in green) south of the church (shown in red) and into Belstead Road. Stoke Hall is shown in purple. Note also the tide mill to the north of the bridge with its mill pond to the west of it. Also the inlet on St Peter's Quay on the dock, north of – and on a line with – Great Whip Street in Over Stoke: this is the line of the original Anglo-Saxon ford across the river, i.e. the nucleus of the first Anglo-Saxon town, Gypeswic.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Old Bell map1778 map

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall map 17801780 map
Hodkinson & Jefferys (Faden) map of 1780 – detail above – shows the layout of river, lanes and structures on the Stoke side of the bridge. Bridge Street runs from the town centre southwards past the Stoke tide mill, over the river and across the Stoke Street/Dock Lane junction into the narrower Bell Lane beside The Old Bell public house. It meets Little Whip Street which runs eastwards to meet Great Whip Street (the north end of which is the site of the original ford over the Orwell to reach the town before a bridge was built. Stoke Hall, with the oval carriage drive in front is shown with its long stable block and outbuildings (most still standing today). The 'Work House' fronting Belstead Road is labelled; this was later a school (see the monochrome image of the building at the top of this web page).

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall map1867 map
Above: in the mid-19th Century, a carriage drive leading to Stoke Hall was built around the curving northern boundary of the churchyard as can clearly be seen on E. E. White's Map of c.1867 (below). Although partially covered by the legend 'St Mary at Stoke', the drive to Stoke Hall can be seen immediately above the church (to the left of '31').The start of this driveway can still be made out today as it rises among the trees between the churchyard wall and the existing brick retaining wall to the west of the junction of Stoke Street/'Burrell Street' – as it is labelled here. If you delve around among the grass and ivy on the corner, you can find the top of one of the original gate posts at the entrance to this carriage drive. On the map Vernon Street has been cut through, causing demolition of part of The Old Bell public house near to Stoke Bridge.

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Johnson 11792 map
Above: Isaac Johnson's sketch map and illustrations of Stoke Hall – taken from Blatchly: Isaac Johnson, see Reading list. The  cartouche contains the text:
in IPSWICH Suffolk
with the Buildings, Gardens, Yards
The Property of
Aug. 1792.’
The detail below shows the hall and church as pictograms, rather than accurate aerial views with stable block and gardens. The sharp gradient down to the river is indicated by hatching and beyond a slightly puzzling, short 'Canal', which must surely be a rectangular man-made lake in 'Canal Meadow'. the land to the left of this is Waterhouse Meadow: see our Water in Ipswich page for another Johnson sketch map of this area showing how a water pipe from the Stoke Hall estate provided a supply over the river to the Priory of St Peter & St Paul and the northern quays.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Hall Johnson 2

The small hamlet of Stoke developed from the medieval period. The name is a contraction of 'stockade', as it was an easily defendable spot above the river and marshes. The site of the present day river bridge was the most accessible crossing point from high ground to the south of the River Gipping over the largely impassable Corporation Marshes to the north, into the town centre of Ipswich. St Mary Stoke Church (Listed Grade I) was built on the most favorable local site, a promontory which rose steeply up from the river and which enabled the church to be seen over a wide area. St Mary's dates from the 15th Century (the date of its hammer beam roof) or earlier, but was extensively enlarged and restored by London architect William Butterfield in 1870- 71. Clearly this site would have been a favourable place for Thomas Cartwright's
1744 mansion on the area behind the church.

Disambiguation (in the terminology of Wikipedia)
1. 'Stoke Park', while being the name of the parkland, is also the name of the Burrell mansion here we call it 'Stoke Park Mansion' to make it clear. It has been demolished.
2. 'Stoke Hall', built on the rise of Stoke Hill and next to St Mary-At-Stoke Church, was built by Thomas Cartwright in 1744/45 ans was once the home of  Robert James Ransome (1830-1891).
It has been demolished.
3. 'The People's Hall' in Stoke Street, close to The Old Bell Inn, has confusingly had the name 'Stoke Hall' added to its fabric. It still stands.

[UPDATE 19.12.2013: "I have just been reading your web site regarding Stoke Hall and would like to add a few comments.
1.  Barwells Wine Merchants were a subsidiary of Tollemaches Breweries before the amalgamation with Cobbold & Co and there was a further amalgamation with T. G. Jones of Oxford probably in the late 1950s, prior to this Cobbolds had their own wine division based in Lower Brook St. which had outlets in Great Colman Street, Nacton Road and Rushmere Road and probably others. Barwell and Jones was later housed in the listed building [The Wheatsheaf], 24 Fore Street which was originally the residence of the Manager of the Bottling Dept of Tollemaches Breweries.
2.  I was surprised that you were unable to establish the gateway between the Hall and the churchyard as I can remember this old boarded gate when a choirboy at St. Marys in the 1940s. 
As a matter of interest my father, who was bought up at 26 Stoke Street, used to play in the tunnels of the Hall as a boy.
I joined the choir at St. Mary (at) Stoke in Sept 1947 and am still there.
I started work in 1951 at Tollemaches Breweries Ltd based in Upper Brook Street (my office can still be seen from the street) and continued working in the Surveyors Dept until the firm’s demise. Moving to Pubmaster thereafter and still looking after the public houses in the town and further afield. Hope this is of interest. Regards, Ken Brock"   Many thanks to Ken for getting in touch and furnishing further details.]
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Barwell & Jones
Above – the Tollemache / Barwell & Jones chronology from The brewing industry: a guide to historical records by Lesley Richmond and Alison Turton. Manchester University Press, 1990.

Newcomers to Ipswich and, we suspect, many current residents don't know the difference between Ransomes, Sims & Jefferies (manufacturers of ploughs and tillage machinery, steam engines, grass-cutting equipment, trolleybuses, threshers, tractors, combines, electric trucks)  and...

Ransomes & Rapier
Engineers and makers of machinery for railways and all kinds of public works.
Waterside Works, Griffin Wharf, Ipswich, and 32 Victoria St, London. Griffin Wharf was an appropriate site for the railway-supplier works. The opening of the Eastern Union Railway in 1846
from Colchester to the first terminus station at nearby Croft Street later became engine sheds and sidings once Stoke Tunnel was built by Peter Bruff (who lived at Handford Lodge); eventually the present Ipswich station opened on Burrell Road in 1860.

1869 Formed as branch of Ransomes, Sims and Head to concentrate on the railway side of the business and other heavy works. Four engineers, J. A. Ransome, R. J. Ransome, R. C. Rapier and A. A. Bennett, left the company by agreement to establish the new company on a site on the River Orwell. The original partners were Allen Ransome, his son Robert James Ransome
[owner of Stoke Hall] and Richard Christopher Rapier‏‎. Chairs, points and rails were made. They also built steam and breakdown cranes; portable and stationary engines.
1875 James Allen Ransome died.
1876 Three small locomotives made and exported to China.
1890 All-Round Titan Railway Crane. Illustrations and article in The Engineer.
1896 Became a public limited company. The company was registered on 17 April, to acquire the business of engineers of the firm of the same name.
1897 Two 30-ton travelling steam cranes for construction of Vera Cruz Harbour.
1904 Installed 5 sets of the largest hydraulic buffer stops at Kings Cross station, London, and another 5 sets at the Central Station, Glasgow.
1914 Engineers and ironfounders. Manufacturers of hand, steam, petrol and electric cranes, traversers and turntables, capstans, tanks, water cranes and pumps, bridges, hydraulic buffer stops, castings, contractors' and railway plant, "Stoney" sluices, ice and refrigerating plants, concrete mixers etc.
1937 Engineers and ironfounders.
1939 Aircraft industry suppliers specialising in launching catapults for aeroplanes. Rapier catapults have been supplied to the British Admiralty and to certain foreign navies, but were also useful on shore. Ransomes and Rapier were the originators of mobile cranes, which have been used for many years on British and foreign airports and elsewhere. Being fitted with pneumatic tyres they are essential wherever aeroplanes are in use.
1958 Newton, Chambers and Co. acquired Ransomes and Rapier; purchased by exchange of shares.
1960 Advert for Walking Draglines for mining.
1961 Engineers and ironfounders, specialising in contractors' plant, mobile cranes, excavators, walking draglines, railway plant and equipment, sluice gates and water control machinery. 2,000 employees.
1963 Newton, Chambers and Co. sold 40% of Ransomes and Rapier to Koerhing of Milwaukee in a share deal.
1965 Ceased making walking drag lines because of the rise of oil and reduction in use of coal.
1972 Newton, Chambers and Co. planned to close Ransome and Rapiers and move the business to Thorncliffe but the group was taken over by industrial holding company Central and Sheerwood who kept Ipswich open.
1976 Ransomes returned to making walking drag lines in view of the increased use of coal.
1988 Bucyrus-Erie acquired the dragline assets of Ransomes and Rapier Ltd.
[The above information comes from Grace's Guide, see Links]

Our Bourne Park has much more about Ransomes & Rapier.
See our Ransomes page for a photograph of a Ransomes & Rapier buffer housing from a railway in Kalka, India.

Kirby/Lonsdale Cottage, 2 Belstead Road
(Nathaniel Kirby)
A contributor to the Bourne Park page had suggested a link between a name on the war memorial in the park and the Stoke Hall site. However we received a further update (scroll down).

"As a matter of interest one of those listed in the first World War I [memorial] is Pte. Nathaniel Kirby, 4th Battalion Suffolk Regiment. The reason I mention that is because there is a building at the bottom of Belstead Road with a wooden plaque and the words 'Kirby Cottage' on it and around the corner it's got a listed house sign." Toiling up Belstead Road hill away from Stoke Bridge, cast a glance at Kirby Cottage and it's from a different generation from the surrounding houses and sits differently in relation to the roadway; compare with the house called 'Chimneys' on the same side near the top of the hill.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bourne Park 10
[UPDATE 14.12.2012: a long shot of Kirby Cottage (which is Listed Grade II as 'Lonsdale Cottage' with its Listed building crest.]
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Kirby Cottage   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Kirby Cottage 32012 images
The Listing text for 'Lonsdale Cottage' reads: "A red brick building with late C18 or early C19 external features, possibly with an earlier core. It stands at right angles to the road and is gabled and plastered on the road frontage. The east front, to the garden, has double-hung sash windows in flush cased frames with segmental heads. The south end has 1 window range of C20 casements. Roof tiled, with 2 gabled half dormers and 2 chimney stacks, each with 3 diagonally set shafts." Kirby Cottage runs at right angles away from Belstead Road and is parallel  and close to the stables building and Listed vaults of the long-demolished Stoke Hall. It is most likely that this cottage was part of the 18th century Stoke Hall and was used as servants' quarters.

[UPDATE August 2018: The following extensive response from Diana and John Stokoe to our original piece suggesting a possible link between the Bourne Park war memorial and this building gives further fascinating detail about this site:-

"My husband and I lived in this house from about 1984 until 1996. We were members of The Ipswich Society & passionate about history. We discovered the cellars underneath the front garden (there was no flying freehold or other mention of them in the deeds to the house.)

When we bought the cottage there was absolutely no mention of any cellars. We didn’t know that they were there. One day we decided to plant a small Japanese acer in the middle of the front lawn. In doing so, John uncovered the top of old arched brickwork. At that time, extensive renovation work was being carried out on the Ancient House in the Butter Market & John had seen, uncovered in the road in front of the building, exactly the same sort of thing so he immediately recognised what it meant. Naively, we approached the owner of the barn in Stoke Hall Road & he invited us to have a look around when we wanted. We talked to the experts at the Ipswich Society and we arranged to go down with ropes, torches, etc. with three of the senior members.

That was when the idea of trying for Listing first arose so we put together all of our research & it was presented to the English Heritage brick expert who came from London to view the cellars. We had been told that Listing is only for visual amenity & so we would never achieve it for the cellars, most of which lie under the barn in Stoke Hall Road. However, the evidence of our extensive research and the quality of the brickwork achieved immediate listing. Kirby Cottage already had Grade II Listing whilst the [Stoke Hall] barn was not considered to be interesting enough.

The timber framed front part of the house can be dated back to at least 1747 whilst the back half is a later Victorian extension. At one time it was three cottages. Behind it is an old stable building whilst the Stoke Hall Road barn was carriage house, brew house, pig sties, etc. The cellars are on 3 levels at the river end, culminating in a well (& not a secret smugglers´passageway, as local legend claims!) and are on 2 levels below Kirby Cottage's front garden. Everything that we’ve seen or read convinces us that the hole at the river end of the cellars was connected with the movement of water across the river. This was a very valuable source of income for anyone who had control of it. 100 pounds per year was a great deal of money! The cellars could hold 147,500 gallons of wine for the wine merchant [Thomas Cartwright] who had Stoke Hall built. The cellars have arched ceilings and the arched barrel vaults are still in place along the side walls. There was evidence of an arched entrance from our front garden & steps down, too, excavated after their discovery on old maps. During the Second World War the cellars were used as air raid shelters & there are still painted signs on the walls relating to this function.

We moved from 43 Belstead Road into Lonsdale Cottage. The cottage was renamed Lonsdale Cottage when the very beautiful Lonsdale House next door, on the corner of Willoughby Road, was demolished and the Lonsdale flats were built on its site, in the 1950s, I think. Our cottage had never had a house number but was always known by its name. John reminded me that until Lonsdale House was demolished, the cottage was called Kirby Cottage. It was as if the owners of Lonsdale House wanted the name to continue both in the flats & in the cottage. We simply reverted to Kirby Cottage. The Post Office started to get difficult when we complained that our post kept disappearing into Lonsdale Flats. They insisted that we start to use the number 2 Belstead Road but since there was also a number 2 Lonsdale Flats this didn’t help matters and an interview with the Ipswich Postmaster made no difference. Our research showed that way back in the 1700s the cottage had been called Kirby Cottage so we changed the name back. We believe that the name relates to Kirby the Ipswich cartographer: at least one of his maps is produced from a very similar viewpoint to that of the cottage. We carried out extensive studies of all of the local directories & never found any reference to a Nathaniel Kirby though we have the names of the residents throughout the 20th century.

So, we changed the cottage name back to a much earlier name. We had the wooden name plate made by a craftswoman in Shotley. We put up the Listed building plaque – probably an offence on a Listed building! We resisted attempts to sell off the quarter of an acre, walled back garden which still has very old steps going down onto the plot below (Burrell Road). Again, these were uncovered after we found them on old maps. We resisted attempts to develop the barn since its windowless back wall gave total privacy to the lovely cottage garden. By the way, we left, in the garden, the stone fragments of church window frames, presumably remnants from the earlier redevelopment of Stoke Church.

We still have original deeds & old documents relating to the cottage & surrounding land. We have copies of all of the old relevant Ipswich maps, we have photos of the cellars and copies of the Stoke Hall sales catalogue, as well as lists of previous residents with dates. Incidentally, we tried [but were unable] to buy the cellars under the cottage’s front garden, wanting to put in simple grilles to partition them off from the rest of the cellars. We had no wish to do anything but preserve them. At that time the cellars below our front garden were just being used to store tea chests of ship’s documents.

It was clear from evidence of stairs up, arches & steps down, etc. on the front garden walls that the whole of the front garden, except for a narrow strip along the front of the cottage, had once been a building. From old maps we were able to uncover steps down & lifting a single stone slab at the bottom enabled us to peer down into the cellars. Having cellars so close to our property but over which we had no control clearly worried us. In such circumstances you should have something called a "flying freehold" which means that you only own the upper level of a property. (Our previous property, a lovely art nouveau house at 43, Belstead Road was built over the Ipswich Station railway tunnel & our deeds included a clause which stated that we were not to drill for oil on the premises!)" Many thanks to Diana and John for telling the story of their time at Lonsdale/Kirby Cottage.]

Much of the above, of course, takes place above or close to the railway tunnel; see our E.U.R. page for more information about Over Stoke and the railways.

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