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Ipswich is well known as being the birthplace of Cardinal Wolsey, one of King Henry VIII’s most influential advisers, but did you know….
1. The world’s first commercially available powered lawnmower was made in Ipswich.
In 1902, Ipswich firm Ransomes, Sims & Jefferies designed and built the first commercially available powered lawnmower. The lawnmower was powered by a small petrol engine, and was certainly a step up from their hand powered models!
2. Ipswich is home to the world’s oldest circle of church bells.
The five bells housed in St Lawrence Church are known locally as Wolsey’s Bells, after Cardinal Wolsey – Henry VIII’s chief adviser. Originally cast in the 1440s, they are the oldest circle of church bells in the world.
3. An Ipswich firm built the first railway in China.
Ransomes and Rapier, an offshoot of Ransomes, Sims & Jefferies, built the first ever railway in China – The Woosung Road. The railway was opened in 1876, and travels from Shanghai to Woosung.
4. Ipswich claims to be one of the UK’s oldest settlements.
First established in Anglo-Saxon times around the 7th century, Ipswich has staked its claim to be the oldest continually occupied town in the United Kingdom. To date, this claim is yet to be confirmed…
5. Ipswich was not always known as ‘Ipswich’.
If you travelled back to medieval times and mentioned the town of Ipswich, no one would know what you were talking about. Ipswich was originally known as ‘Gippeswic’, which is thought to be taken either from an Old Saxon personal name, or from an alternative name for the Orwell estuary.