Ed Sheeran Ipswich trail follows singer's rise to stardom

Ed Sheeran in Ipswich Image copyright Zakary Walters
Image caption Ed Sheeran drew his world tour to a close with four homecoming gigs in Chantry Park, Ipswich in August

Ed Sheeran fans can follow his path to global stardom on a walking tour of the streets where he began his career.

The route around Ipswich, where he ended his record-breaking world tour in August, includes his first gig venues and his beloved Ipswich Town's stadium.

Ed Sheeran: Made in Suffolk has been devised by Ipswich Borough Council to capitalise on the singer's profile.

Karen Byrnand, of the council, said: "It's about getting people to think about how the journey started."

Image copyright Jen O'Neill
Image caption Ed Sheeran played to fans on the street after a gig at The Swan (now The Swan and Hedgehog) in Ipswich in 2010
Image caption Ed Sheeran attracted about 1,000 fans when he signed copies of his album + at HMV in Ipswich in 2011

The route culminates at Christchurch Mansion, which since the summer has hosted an exhibition of Sheeran's life curated by his father.

It has been seen by thousands of people from all over the world, many of whom saw him end his Divide world tour over four nights at Chantry Park in the town.

Sheeran grew up in the nearby market town of Framlingham and the gigs were billed as a "homecoming".

"Ed's been a part of Ipswich life for a long time," said Mrs Byrnand.

"He has loyalty to Ipswich as well - through the football club or his last gigs at Chantry Park. He stood there and said 'I'm back home'."

Image copyright Zakary Walters
Image caption More than 40,000 people saw him at each of his four homecoming gigs
Image caption Sheeran rise to stardom started with him playing gigs at local pubs including the Steamboat Tavern in Ipswich

The route plots Sheeran's rise from Suffolk schoolboy to global superstar, and kicks off on Tuesday, as Christchurch Mansion is closed on Mondays.

Beginning at Portman Road, where Sheeran can often be seen in the crowd, it also takes in the University of Suffolk and Town Hall, where he was awarded his honorary doctorate.

There are stops at venues where he played early gigs, including The Swan, the Steamboat Tavern, and the Halberd Inn - known as McGinty's when Sheeran played it as a 17-year-old.

Ipswich Museum, home of the Ed Sheer-ham pig sculpture he bought for charity in 2016, and Christchurch Park, where he has played the annual Ipswich Music Day free festival, make up the rest of the route.

Image caption The Halberd Inn is one of the nine landmarks on the walking tour, with Sheeran having played the venue when it was called McGinty's
Image caption The exhibition at Christchurch Mansion in Ipswich includes props from some of his music videos

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