Ancient House, Ipswich

The Ancient House, Ipswich, also known as Sparrowes House, is a Grade I listed building dating from the 1400s located in the Buttermarket area. In 1980 the building was acquired by Ipswich Borough Council.


The building sports detailed pargeting, and also elaborate wood carvings around the front of the house. Four panels of pargeting show a Tudor impression of the world. The continents Africa, America, Asia and Europe are shown - notably lacking Australasia which was not discovered at the time.

Africa is represented by a naked man holding a spear, Asia by a horse and a mosque-like building, Europe by a woman with a horse and castle, and America by a man with a dog at his feet.

The front of the building as it can be seen today (in a restored state), was not an original feature of the building - it was later added by Robert Sparrowe between 1660 and 1670. It bears the Royal Arms of King Charles II, and the words "honi soit qvi mal y pense". This is old French for "shame upon him who thinks evil of it", and is also the motto of the Order of the Garter.


Images showing the four discovered continents represented in pargeting.


The earliest reference to the house can be found in the 14th century, when it was owned by the knight, Sir Richard of Martlesham. In the 16th century the house was owned by a string of local merchants, including George Copping, a draper and fishmonger, who acquired the property in 1567. It was Copping that commissioned the paneling of the ground floor room at the front of the house. He also built the 'long gallery'.

The Sparrowe family became the owners of the house in 1603, and continued ownership for the next 300 years.


The Ancient House is currently owned by Ipswich Borough Council with Lakeland being the main tenant. There is also a small art gallery in the attic, which houses occasional exhibitions.


The condition of the house by 1979 was so bad that it was in danger of collapsing. The foundations had sunk, among other structural problems. In addition to this, woodworm, dry & wet rot had set in, and the deathwatch beetle was rife.

Renovation began in 1984, and no part of the building was untouched. Foundations were underpinned, the rot & infestations were eradicated, floors were strengthened, plasterwork was restored, windows were releaded and features were exposed. The renovation was not without its problems: the foundations had sunk, but the heavy fireplaces had sunk at a different rate.

Over 260 tonnes of concrete was used in the foundations, and 11 tonnes of steel were used overall.

External links


*Material in the museum section of the building

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Ipswich Whitefriars — is the name usually given to the Carmelite Priory, a Catholic religious house, which formerly stood near the centre of the medieval town of Ipswich, the county town of Suffolk, UK. The Priory was founded in the 13th century (probably 1278 79) as… …   Wikipedia

  • Ipswich — For other uses, see Ipswich (disambiguation). Ipswich Borough of Ipswich Common Quay, Ipswich Docks …   Wikipedia

  • Ipswich Museum — is a registered museum of culture, history and natural heritage located in Ipswich, the County Town of the English county of Suffolk. It was historically the leading regional museum in Suffolk, housing collections drawn from both the former… …   Wikipedia

  • Ipswich School — Infobox School name = Ipswich School (Schola Regia Gippisvicensis) motto = semper eadem established = 13th Century 4th oldest school in the UK type = Private head name = Headmaster head = Ian Galbraith students = Around 1000 city = Ipswich school …   Wikipedia

  • Ancient borough — An early historical analysis of cities and boroughs by Robert Brady (1704) …   Wikipedia

  • Alexandra Park, Ipswich — is a moderately sized public park situated between Grove Lane, Kings Avenue and Back Hamlet, Ipswich.HistoryIn 1903, the Ipswich Corporation purchased one of six packages of land which was formerly part of the Hill House Estate and home of the… …   Wikipedia

  • List of historic houses in England — Historic houses in England is a link page for any stately home, country house or other historic house in England.Bedfordshire*Ampthill Park *Battlesden House *Chicksands Priory *Eggington House *Hinwick House *Houghton House *Luton Hoo *Milton… …   Wikipedia

  • Clare, Suffolk — Coordinates: 52°05′N 0°35′E / 52.08°N 0.58°E / 52.08; 0.58 …   Wikipedia

  • List of museums in England — Museums in England is a link page for any museum in England by ceremonial county. The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council is the national development agency for museums in England, and is a sponsored body of the Department for Culture, Media… …   Wikipedia

  • Joseph Gibbs — 1699, Dedham, Essex December 12, 1788, was an English composer.Joseph Gibbs was not a prolific composer, but he was a not entirely unknown. He was born in Dedham, Essex in 1699, though not much more has been traced of Gibbs until 1748. In that… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”