250 year homecoming for Great Yarmouth clothing

Portrait of John Ives and Elizabethan House.

An ornate piece of clothing belonging to a wealthy Great Yarmouth officer of arms has returned to the town after 250 years. - Credit: Elizabethan House

Almost 250 years after the death of an ill-fated man from Great Yarmouth, his clothing has been returned to his home.

John Ives was the son of a wealthy merchant who owned the building at 4 South Quay in the town.

The property is now a museum called the Elizabeth House, which has just been gifted a distinctive tabard which once belonged to Mr Ives.

It is restoring the item and preparing to put it on display once the site reopens at the start of next month.

Portrait of John Ives.

A portrait of John Ives wearing the tabard is on display at the Elizabethan House. - Credit: Elizabethan House

Mr Ives' association with the address was not always happy.

He was born in 1751 and developed an early interest in antiquity - the studying and collecting of historical artefacts.

He was elected to the Society of Antiquarians in 1771 and by 1773, he was a fellow of the Royal Society. The following year he was appointed the Suffolk Herald of Arms Extraordinary.

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By then, though, he had become estranged from his family, after falling in love with a woman called Sarah Kett, from Suffolk.

Against his family's wishes, he decided to wed Miss Kett and they eloped. The couple were married in Lambeth in 1773.

Portrait of Sarah Kett, John Ives' wife.

John Ives married Sarah Kett, daughter of Wade Kett of Lopham, Suffolk in 1773. - Credit: Elizabethan House

However, the marriage was a short one as John died from consumption in 1776. He was 25-years-old.

He had returned to his hometown before his death and was buried alongside his family in Belton church.

Following his death, many of his possessions were sold at auction and the proceeds were given to his widow.

But the livery tabard - a short jacket emblazoned with a coat of arms signifying his status as Suffolk Herald of Arms Extraordinary - was kept by his widow as a memento of her late husband.

It has now been obtained by the Elizabeth House, having been donated by a distant relative of Sarah's.

Ives' tabard

John Ives' tabard has been methodically restored. - Credit: Elizabethan House

The tabard was methodically restored using humidification techniques to reduce the hard creases which had set in after decades in storage. A museum spokeswoman described it as an "exciting acquisition".

It will be exhibited alongside a 1774 text written by John, portraits of him and his wife, a leather-bound bible which belonged to Sarah, a portrait of the Reverend William Bridge - the first minister of Great Yarmouth's Unitarian Church, and an oil painting of John's father - also called John Ives - as a boy,  wearing early eighteenth-century dress, including a pink coat, white shirt and a blue cloak.

For more information, please visit the Elizabethan House website.

A young boy wearing early eighteenth century dress comprising pink coat, white shirt and stockings, black shoes.

John Ives Senior as a young boy. Oil on canvas by John Theodore Heins, 1728. - Credit: Elizabethan House