One of the cities that we wanted to visit in Suffolk was Ipswich. It is a large city and for that reason alone poses challenges for American drivers. If that was not enough, we had a terrible problem finding parking. Driving around in circles for a while had all of our nerves on edge. Finally we were lucky enough to find an open spot along the northeast side of Christchurch Park. It was quite a hike down through the park to Christchurch Mansion but that was our purpose in coming here.
This is a pretty park. This is the oldest park in Ipswich and if the truth be known, it has been a park of some sort for almost a millennium. The official city park was opened in 1895 and it has been enjoyed by generations of residents and visitors. There is a visitor center that usually has exhibits and also toilet facilities. There is a handicapped parking lot adjacent to the visitor center.
The round pond is gorgeous. With swans swimming in it and it was like a magnet attracting children and adults alike. Even when we were there in January it was worth stopping and taking photos.
Another major attraction in the park itself is the Protestant Martyrs Memorial. It is monument dedicated to the 9 people who were burned at the stake for their beliefs during the reign of Queen Mary, known as "Bloody Mary". It was erected in 1903 in response to newspaper articles that brought the fate of these "martyrs" to the public’s attention.
The park is a major attraction in the city of Ipswich and there are many events that take place here throughout the year.
The mansion was built on the site of a former priory which happened quite frequently after the dissolution. It was purchased in 1545 by Paul Withypoll and it was his son Edmund who began building the mansion. The estate passed to Devereux family in the 17th century. In the 18th century it was purchased by a wealthy London merchant Claude Fonnereau and it remained in that family until 1892. It was purchased by land developers who sold off some of the land and presented the building to the town of Ipswich. It was used to display art work and archeological displays as well as used as additional class room space for the Schools of Science and arts.
Today it is a very interesting place to visit. All of the owners added to the house and it reflects all of these different eras. A generous trust was also bequeathed to the house so that additional art could be purchased and it is displayed in a period setting. The original furnishings of the house were sold at auction so while the pieces are period, there are not original to the house.
The rooms have displays that include furniture, fine arts, paintings and costumes. There are descriptions and explanations of what is on display so it is very interesting to just read about what you are seeing. On the second floor there is an art gallery with some very fine pieces of art.
We didn’t eat in Ipswich. we actually stopped in the village of Orford and grab a nosh at Penny’s Café. They have delicious Cornish Pasties and with a cup of tea and a sweet we were good to go. It was a very full and very enjoyable day.