It was some few years ago that Dr. Paul Richards of King’s Lynn gave a very informative talk to members of the Ipswich Maritime Trust on the Hanseatic League and its links with ports on the East Coast. We knew that Ipswich was a major Hanseatic port in the 13th -14th centuries, when Ipswich was trading to cities around the North Sea and the Baltic, but little about that period has been available to the general reader apart from one or two academic volumes.
Realising that so many of the ancient buildings around the port were replaced during the Victorian era, a time of huge prosperity for the Town, the author Pat Grimwade felt it would be worth trying to bring to life some of this earlier history by finding out more about some of the people and places involved. The names of many local and European merchants are recorded in Ipswich’s detailed records, while maps and pictures have recorded much about the growth of the town and port over the centuries. Historic buildings such as Isaac’s and the Neptune Inn, as well as nearby churches have all been important in the history of the port, or the area we now call The Waterfront. It may be difficult to imagine that the area in front of the Customs House today has been a quayside since medieval times, when a huge proportion of the country’s exports of wool was loaded from here.
In 2017 Ipswich applied for membership of the New Hanse League (www.hanse.org) which special status has entitled it to share its trading history with over a hundred continental cities and to participate in New Hanse activities.
This new booklet is a great addition to the written history of Ipswich, it is available from the Ipswich Tourist Information Centre and is the perfect Christmas present for those interested in a before now little known aspect of Ipswich’s rich maritime history.