Project update

Project Director, Kath Cockshaw, provides a round up of the Wolsey 550 project activity so far…

In just six months, the Thomas Wolsey 550 project has engaged many thousands of people in public events, and in its schools programme.

The project has had huge impact on the town, delivering some 50 events and activities for residents and visitors, including:

  • Launch event at the Town Hall attended by representatives of 100 local businesses and organisations
  • 10 x Wolsey 550 Touring Trailer Exhibition events across Ipswich, in partnership with Suffolk Archives, with family crafts and Tudor themed sideshows
  • 4-month exhibition at The Hold, ‘Wolsey’s Ipswich’ featuring the Cardinal’s own 500 year old hat, in partnership with Suffolk Archives
  • Awarded 11 community grants, of up to £3000 each to local organisations delivering projects within the Ipswich Borough boundary.
  • New 45-metre long mural on Buttermarket delivered by a local artist and Suffolk One students
  • The Saints Heritage Fayre, organised by local retailers who received a Wolsey 550 Community Grant
  • Partnership delivery for Spill Festival’s ‘Monumental Construction of Wolsey’s Gate’ on the Cornhill, which engaged 12,000 participants
  • Wolsey-themed walking tours for visitors and residents, each month, with Ipswich Tour Guides Association
  • Talks and events delivered by local historians and heritage organisations
  • Wolsey 550 stickers identifying retailers as supporters
  • Branded signage and bunting and signage across town centre and Saints

Working with Gecko we have just launched our schools programme for primary and secondary schools in Ipswich borough – over 3000 school children met ‘Cardinal Wolsey’ in assemblies at their school in June, delivered by Education Coordinator Hannah Houghton and Wolsey re-enactor, Phil Roberts. 

In coming weeks and months, schoolchildren will participate in confidence building workshops delivered by Gecko Theatre; Tudor Ipswich in Minecraft workshops with the Creative Computing Club; and an exciting careers programme is planned for secondary schools.

The Saints Heritage Fayre, which took place in September as part of Ipswich Open Heritage Week, was a phenomenal success, despite the heat! Organisers are keen to run regular markets and heritage events in future, based on outstanding public feedback and commercial success of the event.

Eleven more funded Community Grants projects are being delivered in Ipswich over 2023 and 2024, which will reach a tremendous amount of people across different age groups and communities. We look forward to making further updates about these.

St Peter’s Church has hosted various Wolsey-themed concerts and Suzanne Hawke’s fantastic Wolsey play, which has enjoyed a second run at various venues – and Ipswich School recently delivered a series of Wolsey-themed musical events at its annual festival, and has just launched a short essay writing competition for schools.

The new Wolsey 550 mural on Buttermarket has gone down a storm with retailers and local people – it has made a big difference to the street and given a lot of people hope and enjoyment. We are working with youth-focused organisations across Ipswich on a series of place-related events and activities with young people, which place them at the centre of creative decision making and give them a voice in the development of their town.

Project director Kath Cockshaw and Chair, Terry Hunt continue to meet with businesses and organisations to garner their support for next calendar year – the public programme runs until September 2024, and a big week of activity is being planned for June, before people go on holiday.

Forthcoming events include a Tudor-themed Christmas event at the Thomas Wolsey pub on St Peter’s Street on 7thDecember, including entertainments and appearances by re-enactors – we hope to see you there!

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