The Cardinal's hat that meant so much to Thomas Wolsey when he received it in 1518 has arrived in Ipswich for its first-ever visit to his home town.

It is the centrepiece of an exhibition about the Cardinal at The Hold near Ipswich Waterfront, which runs until the end of October. 

The Galero hat is the star exhibit and has been lent by its owner, Christ Church in Oxford.

East Anglian Daily Times: Wolsey's hat is usually on display at Christ Church in Oxford.Wolsey's hat is usually on display at Christ Church in Oxford. (Image: Christ Church, Oxford)

Wolsey was created a Cardinal in 1515, but it was not until three years later that the Pope granted him the Galero hat.

When it originally arrived in London it was greeted with much pomp and its own procession.

After Wolsey's fall the fate of the hat was unclear - but in the 18th century it turned up among some theatre props before eventually Christ Church, which was founded by Cardinal Wolsey, bought it and put it on display in its library.

East Anglian Daily Times: The hat was carried in procession by children from Clifford Road school.The hat was carried in procession by children from Clifford Road school. (Image: Charlotte Bond)

In a recreation of the original procession the hat (or rather a replica of it!) arrived at the Waterfront to be greeted by Ipswich Mayor Lynne Mortimer and a recreation of Cardinal Wolsey himself.

Schoolchildren from Clifford Road Primary School added to the occasion and were on hand to cheer as it was brought ashore.

The procession from Orwell Quay on the Waterfront to the new Suffolk County Council record office attracted considerable interest before the hat was taken inside and the original was installed in the centre of the exhibition.

East Anglian Daily Times: The hat arrived at the Waterfront on board the Orwell Lady.The hat arrived at the Waterfront on board the Orwell Lady. (Image: Charlotte Bond)

The exhibition is a key part of the Wolsey 550 project, and has been made possible by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Ipswich Central, Ipswich Borough Council, and curated by the exhibitions team at The Hold.

Displays explore the legacy of Wolsey, re-connecting him with his hometown and examining his position on the world stage. 

East Anglian Daily Times: There was a big cheer as the hat arrived.There was a big cheer as the hat arrived. (Image: Charlotte Bond)

The arrival of the hat is a real coup for Ipswich.

Terry Hunt, Wolsey 550 project chair, said: “We are really excited about the hat coming to Ipswich.

"It is rarely lent for display, and this is the first time it has ever visited Wolsey’s hometown.

"It is a fantastic opportunity for people from Ipswich, Suffolk and much further afield to see this unique symbol of Wolsey’s amazing story. We are very grateful to Christ Church for the generous loan.” 

The loan was arranged after the project's patron, historian Diarmaid MacCulloch, approached the Oxford college.

But the exhibition is just one of a number of events to mark the 550th anniversary of the birth of the commoner who was born in Ipswich and rose to become chief minister to Henry VIII.

The celebrations are due to run for 550 days until next autumn with National Lottery support - and aim to use Wolsey's legacy to improve prospects for young people in Ipswich today.