#MaritimePlaques is an exhibition based on 10 of the most significant cast iron plaques placed on buildings in 1982 that have an important maritime connection. At the centre stage is a model of the Isaac Lord’s courtyard, perhaps the most historically important secular building or group of buildings still in existence in Ipswich.
Henry Tooley’s Almhouse Plaque. Henry Tooley was a wealthy Tudor merchant and he prospered trading across Europe including sending his ship the Mary Walsingham all the way to fish in the rich waters off Iceland. He became known as the Great Tooley and was a major benefactor to the town using his money to form the Almhouses on Foundation Street close to the waterfront, on which this plaque is attached.
Maritime trade made Ipswich, and the town’s history and wealth has been sustained by merchants, adventurers, seafarers and traders from as far back as the 7th Century. Ipswich was the first town to be established after the Romans left Britain, continuously occupying the same quays and original street pattern to this day.
To this day the port continues to trade with many of the Hanseatic League’s continental cities that traded with the town in its wealthier medieval past. Many of the towns medieval buildings have survived, but very few of the merchants houses and warehouses along the quaysides remained after the building of the new Wet Dock in the early 1840s.
In 1982, the year when the Ipswich Maritime Trust was formed, a ‘Maritime Trail’ was created marking a route for visitors to view these buildings. This display includes some of the original plaques used for that trail cast by local company Cranes, including the house occupied by Thomas Eldred a navigator on the second English circumnavigation of the globe in 1584.