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History The Eemian interglacial is known as the Ipswichian period in geology and occurred about 120,000 years ago. Under the Roman empire, the area around Ipswich formed an important route inland to rural towns and settlements via the Orwell and Gipping. A large Roman fort, part of the coast defences of Britain, stood at Felixstowe (13 miles, 21 km), and the largest villa in Suffolk stood at Castle Hill (north-west Ipswich). Ipswich is one of England's oldest towns, and took shape in Anglo-Saxon times as the main centre between York and London for North Sea trade to Scandinavia and the Rhine. It served the Kingdom of East Anglia, and began developing in the time of King Rædwald, supreme ruler of the English (616-624). The famous ship-burial and treasure at Sutton Hoo nearby (9 miles, 14.5 km) is probably his grave. The Ipswich Museum houses replicas of the Roman Mildenhall Treasure and the Sutton Hoo treasure. A gallery devoted to the town's origins includes Anglo-Saxon weapons, jewellery and other artefacts. The seventh-century town, called 'Gippeswick' was centred near the quay. Towards 700 AD, Frisian potters from the Netherlands area settled in Ipswich and set up the first large-scale potteries in England since Roman times. Their wares were traded far across England, and the industry was unique to Ipswich for 200 years. With growing prosperity, in about 720 AD a large new part of the town was laid out in the Buttermarket area. Ipswich was becoming a place of national and international importance. Parts of the ancient road plan still survive in its modern streets. After the invasion of 869 Ipswich fell under Viking rule. The earth ramparts circling the town centre were probably raised by Vikings in Ipswich around 900 to prevent its recapture by the English. They were unsuccessful. The town operated a Mint under royal licence from King Edgar in the 970s, which continued through the Norman Conquest until the time of King John, in about 1215. The abbreviation 'Gipes' appears on the coins. King John granted the town its first charter in 1200, laying the mediaeval foundations of its modern civil government. In the next four centuries it made the most of its wealth, trading Suffolk cloth with the Continent. Five large religious houses, including two Augustinian Priories (St Peter and St Paul, and Holy Trinity, both mid-12th century), and those of the Greyfriars (Franciscans, before 1298), Ipswich Whitefriars (Carmelites founded 1278-79) and Blackfriars (Dominicans, before 1263), stood in mediaeval Ipswich. The last Carmelite Prior of Ipswich was the celebrated John Bale, author of the oldest English historical verse-drama (Kynge Johan, c.1538). There were also several hospitals, including the leper hospital of St Mary Magdalene, founded before 1199. During the Middle Ages the Marian Shrine of Our Lady of Grace was a famous pilgrimage destination, and attracted many pilgrims including Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon. At the Reformation the statue was taken away to London to be burned, though some claim that it survived and is preserved at Nettuno, Italy. Around 1380, Geoffrey Chaucer satirised the merchants of Ipswich in the Canterbury Tales. Thomas Cardinal Wolsey, the son of a wealthy landowner, was born in Ipswich about 1475. One of Henry VIII's closest political allies, he founded a college in the town in 1528, which was for its brief duration one of the homes of the Ipswich School. He remains one of the town's most famed figures. In the time of Queen Mary the Ipswich Martyrs were burnt at the stake on the Cornhill for their Protestant beliefs. A monument commemorating this event now stands in Christchurch Park. From 1611 to 1634 Ipswich was a major centre for emigration to New England. This was encouraged by the Town Lecturer, Samuel Ward. His brother Nathaniel Ward was first minister of Ipswich, Massachusetts, where a promontory was named 'Castle Hill' after the place of that name in north-west Ipswich, UK. The painter Thomas Gainsborough lived and worked in Ipswich. In 1835, Charles Dickens stayed in Ipswich and used it as a setting for scenes in his novel The Pickwick Papers. The hotel where he resided first opened in 1518; it was then known as The Tavern and is now known as the Great White Horse Hotel. Dickens made the hotel famous in chapter XXI of The Pickwick Papers, vividly describing the hotel's meandering corridors and stairs. In 1797 Lord and Lady Nelson moved to Ipswich, and in 1800 Lord Nelson was appointed High Steward of Ipswich. In the mid-19th century Coprolite was discovered, the material was mined and then dissolved in acid, the resulting mixture forming the basis of Fisons fertilizer business
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