Ipswich Corporation

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Ipswich Corporation
Founded Ancient; Reformed 1835
Disbanded 1974
Succeeded by Ipswich Borough Council

The Ipswich Corporation was a municipal corporation that owned property and government in the Borough of Ipswich. The corporation kept highly detailed accounts of their operation, a great deal of which survives to this day. After a successful period of four centuries, surviving plague and many other challenges governance of the borough descended into chaos after the restoration in 1660. This lasted until new structures were imposed by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835 which created the Municipal borough of Ipswich. Since the Local Government Act 1972 Ipswich has been a Non-metropolitan district with borough status.


Early years[edit]

King John granted a royal charter to the town in 1200.[1] Unusually the immediately resolved to record proceedings in 'Great Domesday Book of Ipswich'. The original documents were stolen in 1272. Its contents were however already noted and a new copy was made later. In 1290 'The Little domesday book of Ipswich' was compiled based on what could be recollected at the time. A further copy was made in the 14th century.[2]

In 1611 the corporation 'adventured', £100 towards the cost of ships to sail to Jamestown, in Virginia 13 years before The Mayflower.[3]

Following the restoration in 1660 the governance of the corporation declined until the Municipal Corporations Act 1835 again brought order. The borough was both subject to disastrous manipulation by Charles II and James II and also by the rise of party politics.[4] The town was strongly puritan and during the winter of 1662/63 Royal commissioners arrived to enforce the Corporation Act 1661 and ask all officeholders and freeman to renounce the 'Puritan Covenant'. Half of the assembly were purged. In 1684 the charter was then called in and replaced by another which named to new officeholders and for the first time in its history Portmen were imposed on the town many of whom were outsiders, Freemen were refused participation in the borough government.[5] The aim was to create a compliant closed corporation.[5] Control over the Holy Rood Fair which took place on St Margaret's Green was passed to the Corporation.[6] A further charter was imposed by James II in 1688 without revoking the earlier charter and the result was confusion and chaos and permanent problems in 1835.[5]

In 1719 the corporation blocked proposals to make the River Orwell navigable as far as Stowmarket; further plans were raised in 1790 and the work was completed by 1793 after which numerous maltings were soon operating in Stowmarket.[7]

Until the Reform Act 1832 Members of parliament for Ipswich were selected for the Ipswich Parliament constituency by the Ipswich Corporation. Elections during the 18th century in the town sometimes descended into physical fights between 'The Blues' (who supported the conservatives) and 'The Yellows' (who supported the Whigs or Liberals) with the behaviour of the politicians being described as 'miserable' and local and national elections often ending in a competition of who could be bribed and for what price.[8] Following the Reform Act 1832 all male householders living in properties worth at least ten pounds a year were given the right to vote and process of voter registration. The act was intended to "take effectual Measures for correcting diverse Abuses that have long prevailed in the Choice of Members to serve in the Commons House of Parliament."

From 1835 to 1889[edit]

The Municipal Corporations Act 1835 created the Municipal borough of Ipswich. This followed an investigation into Municipal corporations which had concluded that the existing Municipal Corporations of England and Wales neither possess nor deserve the confidence or respect of Your Majesty's subjects[9] Subsequent to the 1835 Act a Mayor was elected, together with a High Steward, Recorder, ten Aldermen and thirty Councillors.[10]

Between 1835 and 1842 there were five parliamentary elections and all were found to have been corrupt and in all seven members of parliament were unseated.[11] In 1841 votes were openly for sale at £15.[12]

W.C. Fonnereau leased 13 acres (53,000 m2) of Christchurch Park to the corporation in 1851.

The Municipal Corporations Act 1882 gave powers to the corporation to make byelaws and to acquire land and buildings.[13]

County Borough of Ipswich[edit]

Following the Local Government Act 1888 the county of Suffolk was split into East Suffolk and West Suffolk for administrative purposes and the term administrative county was introduced. Ipswich was retained its independence as the County Borough of Ipswich.

In 1895 Felix Cobbold gave Christchurch Mansion to the town on condition that the corporation buys the rest of the property who completed the purchase later in the year.[14]

In 1901 the corporation purchased the town's tram system from Ipswich Tramway Company as authorised by the Ipswich Corporation Act of 1900.[15]

In 1903, the corporation purchased one of six packages of land which was formerly part of the Hill House Estate and home of the Byles family and created Alexandra Park, named after the wife of Edward VII.

In 1927 the land where Chantry Park is now situated had been sold for housing development and was then purchased by Sir Arthur Churchman (later Lord Woodbridge) and gave it to Ipswich Corporation to be held in permanent trust for the people of Ipswich.[16]

In 1929 the corporation purchased 147 acres (59 ha) of land to create a municipal airport for Ipswich. Ipswich Airport was constructed the following year and was then officially opened by H.R.H. Prince Edward on 26 June 1930 who described the facility as "one of the finest in the country".[17]

In 1973 Anglian Water Authority was formed by the Water Act 1973 and took over various services run by the corporation.[citation needed]

The county borough of Ipswich was abolished in 1974 following the Local Government Act 1972 and Ipswich became a Non-metropolitan district with borough status.

Acts of parliament[edit]

The following acts of parliament relate to, or mention the Ipswich Corporation:-[18]

  • Ipswich Corporation Act of 1900
  • Ipswich Corporation Act 1948[19]
  • Ipswich Corporation (Trolley Vehicles) Order Confirmation Act 1931
  • Ipswich Corporation (Trolley Vehicles) Order Confirmation Act 1935
  • Ipswich Corporation (Trolley Vehicles) Order Confirmation Act 1938
  • Ipswich Corporation Act 1911
  • Ipswich Corporation Act 1925
  • Telecommunications Act 1984[20]
  • The Communications Act 2003 (Consequential Amendments) Order 2003 (No. 2155)


See Sources section below for details of cited document referred to using the 'Author(date)' format, for example 'Twich(2008)'.

  1. ^ "Account of the setting up of self-government in A.D. 1200". Retrieved 2010-01-17. 
  2. ^ Twinch (2008), page 30
  3. ^ "Reformation and Civil War 1539-1699". St Edmundsbury Borough Council. Retrieved 2010-01-17. /
  4. ^ Martin (2000), page xxxvi
  5. ^ a b c Martin (2000), page xxxvii
  6. ^ Twinch (2008), page 19
  7. ^ "Ipswich & Stowmarket Navigation (River Gipping)". Inland Waterways Association. Archived from the original on July 25, 2009. Retrieved 2010-01-10. 
  8. ^ Twinch (2008), page 78
  9. ^ Marjie Bloy (11 October 2002). "Defects in Constitutions of Municipal Corporations". The Victorian Web. Retrieved 2009-02-19. 
  10. ^ "The History of the Mayoralty". Retrieved 2010-01-17. The old corporation (or Assembly) was replaced in 1835 by a Mayor, High Steward, Recorder, ten Aldermen and thirty Councillors, with the usual officers 
  11. ^ "IPSWICH ELECTION WRIT". Hansard. Retrieved 2010-01-17. During the last seven years, or little more, there had been five elections for the borough of Ipswich, and those five elections had produced five petitions 
  12. ^ "Honorary member of the Metropolitan Commission". Studymode. Retrieved 2010-01-17. Even in 1841, individual votes were sold openly at Ipswich for £15 (Wright D.G. 1970 p.52). 
  13. ^ Shaw, Albert (June 1889). "Municipal Government in Great Britain". Political Science Quarterly. 4 (2): 197–229. doi:10.2307/2139337. JSTOR 2139337. 
  14. ^ "Christchurch Park". Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2010-01-14. 
  15. ^ "Ipswich Corporation Transport". Retrieved 2010-01-14. 
  16. ^ "Ipswich Station Walk Route". Archived from the original on September 14, 2009. Retrieved 2010-01-14. 
  17. ^ "Ipswich Airport History". Retrieved 2010-01-14. 
  18. ^ "Acts of Parliament (i)". Hansard. Retrieved 2010-01-14. 
  19. ^ "Ipswich Corporation Act 1948". Hansard. Retrieved 2010-01-14. 
  20. ^ "Telecommunications Act 1984". Retrieved 2010-01-14. 

External links[edit]