The Latin inscriptions
on the outside of the Mansion and inside on the
North wall are thought to remain from Edmund Withypoll's original Tudor
Over the front door:
'FRUGALITATUM SIC SERVAS UT DISSPATIONEM NON INCURASS' (You observe frugality in order that you may not run into
In the Great Hall:
'RES MIHI NO REBUS SUBMITTERE CONOR' (I try to
[make] events submit to me, not to submit to events),
'NULLUM NUMEN ABEST SI SIT PRUDENTIA' (Spirit is
not lacking if wisdom is there),
'NON ALIIS SED DEO' (Not unto others, but to
Our thanks to the staff of Christchurch Mansion
for permission to
photograph these examples and for access to the official translations.]
Inside the Mansion: Major's House wing
Quotations from the information boards on display in
the 'dark wood' rooms inside the Mansion (see also Street name derivations and our Co-op pages for mention of Major's House):-
“The Upper Chamber
This room and the one below are not original to Christchurch Mansion.
They were added in the 1920s. Originally they were part of a Tudor
house at Majors Corner, Ipswich. Both rooms contain many architectural
features that have been saved from destruction during the demolition of
merchants’ houses in Ipswich during this period. The painted wall
plasters come from a number of Ipswich houses.
While the hall was the main public room of a large house, the parlour
was intended to be a more private room for family and closer friends.
It combined this role with being the master bedroom. In farmhouses it
was often on the ground floor but in towns it was often built over the
Even though it was a more private room it was still quite common for a
servant to sleep in the same room and bed curtains were often the most
valuable part of the household furniture. A standard part of any
wedding was for the new couple, fully dressed, to lie in bed and
receive the compliments of friends and family. Special food treats
could be locked away in the livery cupboard. Chests for holding
valuable textiles, plates and precious items were often kept close to
the owner in his room at night.
The wall painting with its comparatively sophisticated motifs came from
the house of Thomas Eldred, whose overmantel can be seen in the Lower
Chamber.” [See our Isaac Lord page for an
illustration of Eldred's House.]
“The Lower Chamber
This is part of a merchant’s, or wealthy artisan’s, house which stood
at Majors Corner in Ipswich until it was demolished and rebuilt here
onto the North porch of Christchurch mansion in 1925. The floor and
roof are original, but the walls and windows are not. The
plaster, the panelling and the overmantel were removed from demolished
houses in Ipswich during the 1920s.
Following the enormous influence of William Morris and the “Arts and
Craft Movement” there was a great interest in all things Tudor and
Jacobean in the last years of the nineteenth century. Architects
carefully restored period houses and designed new ones with
“Jacobethan” features. The surviving Tudor and Jacobean houses in
Suffolk were ‘ransacked’ by dealers, creating the important local
antiques trade. Furniture and fittings were also reproduced to the
designs by many local firms like Tibbenhams and Titchmarsh &
This room was the creation of Harry Turner of Ipswich, a local dealer
and highly skilled woodcarver. Harry Turner was responsible for the
fittings in John Dupois [sic]
Cobbold’s new mansion at Holywells. Harry Turner went one step further
and arranged for the old part of his own house at Majors Corner to be
taken down and moved to Christchurch Mansion. The roof, floors and
ceiling beams were set up to form the Lower Tudor Room and the Upstairs
Chamber directly above.”
Inside the Upper Chamber, a panel of decorative painted plasterwork can
be found (almost impossible to photograph in these light conditions).
The label reads:
CENTURY WALL PAINTING FROM THE HOUSE OF ELDRED
THE NAVIGATOR, FORE ST,
IPSWICH. PRESENTED BY MR J.D. COBBOLD.'
Click on the plaque to see an
image of Thomas Eldred's house and its former site in Fore Street.
The Eldred overmantle
The text is from the information book about the exhibits.
The Wingfield Room in the Mansion relates to parts of Sir Humphrey
Wingfield's mansion on Tacket Street, described on our Courts & yards page.
The Withypoll memorials stone
[UPDATE 25.7.2019: This latest
addition to our Christchurch Mansion/Park information
definitely deserves its own page (click the link to view). It appears
date from the lost Church of the Holy Trinity Priory, so predate the
Mansion. A 1977 research paper on this enormous stone slab by Blatchly
MacCulloch reveals much about this neglected feature of the park and
its possible historical significance. The new page linked here tells
more of this intriguing feature. It must weigh a couple of tons.]
The Wolsey Art Gallery/Wolsey Garden
The cameo of Thomas Wolsey is rather more pugnacious
propaganda Sampson Strong portrait executed shortly after his own time
(upon which this work is based) and probably a more
accurate representation of a brilliant but flawed man.
Just up the path is the Reg Driver Centre bearing the blue plaque dedicated to Felix Thornley
The sculptor is A.W. Bellis and
this portrait was an integral part of the gallery extension, built in
1932 following a public appeal to fund it. The
Wolsey Gallery was named after the cardinal (1473-1530) the most
powerful figure in Ipswich history and founder of the College of St Mary suppressed after his
fall from power and death and in 1530. (Information taken from the
sculpture in Norfolk & Suffolk website, see Links.)
2018 image courtesy Friends of Ipswich
In 2017 Bob Allen discovered the plaster maquette for this work in a
reclamation yard in Colchester and contacted the Friends of Ipswich
Museums. They eventually purchased the piece and we hope that this
integral part of the Wolsey Gallery story is placed on permanent
display inside the gallery, beside the door over which the finished
version features. Here is a link to Bob's
full Ipswich Society Newsletter
The famous front elevation of the Mansion with
extensive lawn and wall adjoining St
Margaret's Church features a bricked-in archway, just visible to
Meanwhile the main gateway from Soane Street also bears inspection. The
pineapples are splendid, the diaper brickwork striking and the Borough coat of arms is on the metalwork gate.
In 2018 we noticed the two war memorial slabs set into the limestone
setts of the driveway entrance.
'PRIVATE SAMUEL HARVEY
'SERGEANT ARTHUR SAUNDERS
YORK AND LANCASTER REGIMENT
29TH SEPTEMBER 1915'
These memorials are topped by Victoria Cross features with 'For Valour'
[UPDATE 7.2.2023: While we're
looking at lettering at ground-level in the park, Sandy Phillips has
sent this photograph. 'Another Cocksedge drain cover. A different
design. This one is on the main path in Christchurch Park as you have
your back to the Round Pond, looking at the Reg Driver Centre.' Thanks to Sandy for sending this cast
drain cover which features the spaced lettering: 'COCKSEDGE ...
IPSWICH'. See our Garden railings page for more about the Cocksedge foundry
in Over Stoke. Full marks to Sandy for cleaning the drain cover with
some water and a scrubbing brush before photographing it because it had
been caked with mud and leaves.]
images courtesy Sandy Phillips
Below: this one is in the park opposite the
Martyrs Memorial. It reads
The only other reference to the foundry run by
J. Smith & Co.in Ipswich we have found is to examples of garden
railings and a gate in Castle
Road, Colchester made by the foundry with the name
cast into the metal.
*** Christchurch Mansion – are
parts older than we think?
In the April 2013 issue of The
Ipswich Society Newsletter Louis Musgrove and Ken Wilson
took a close look at the fabric of the building and its possible
origins. The Augustinian Priory of Holy Trinity, also known as
'Christchurch' had extensive grounds (over 600 acres) and appropriate
wealth. Conventional wisdom states that, with Henry VII's
dissolution of the monasteries, in 1537 the buildings were completely
destroyed and that a new house was built on the vacant site by Edmund
Withipoll. However, the inventory which was compiled at the
time describes the priory as 'an ordinary brick-built building'.
The usual and understandable practice of the times would be for a
stone-built structure to be either deliberately or casually demolished
and the stone carted away and reused. Identifiable parts of suppressed
monasteries can often be identified as components of buildings in the
surrounding areas. If demolished, a brick-built edifice would probably
not have been worth recycling. Perhaps the survival of the brickwork
watergate to Thomas Wolsey's ill-fated college which still stands in
College Street, where the expensive stone and other materials were
taken away for other purposes. This is particularly so in Ipswich where
there is no local stone but natural brickearth and brickworks abound.
After dissolution, the land was held under the stewardship of the
Wingfield family and so it is most likely that Holy Trinity was
stripped of anything of value and the shell left derelict. Only twelve
years after this, the dated inscription which we show above: 'FRUGALITATEM
SIC SERVAS UT
DISSIPATIONEM NON INQRRAS ... 1549' (which can be translated as
'Frugality is the way to avoid dissipating one's wealth') was
presumably installed in the wall over the front door. Perhaps this was
in the mind of the new owner, Edmund Withipoll as he planned his new
residence in Ipswich, not to mention the costs.
To quote the article:-
"Pursuing this idea we see that on the east wall of the east wing there
are three chimneys, the middle one of which has a plaque with the date
1550 and a cipher for Edmund [see the
image of the roundel above]. The style is exactly what one would
expect for the date. However, the other two are different. The bricks
are smaller and there are crow-steps, both more suited to the 15th
century, which suggests strongly that they are survivals of the
original priory. It follows then that rather than demolish a
basically sound structure the frugal Edmund simply remodelled and
enlarged what remained.
The front wall provides further evidence of an earlier period as the
diaper-work there [trellis pattern in
darker brick] would have been rather old-fashioned in 1550 and in fact
is very similar to that of the Bishop's Palace in Ely which was
constructed in the 1480s. Edmund was a man of the city and very familar
with the latest fashions: if starting from scratch he would surely have
opted for a more modern appearance for that important frontage. As it
is, the impression is undoubtedly early-Tudor rather than
... Much repair and many alterations and improvements have been made to
Christchurch Mansion throughout its history, right up to modern times,
but in the light of what we now know we may surely assume that in
addition to the visible signs there must also be, tantalisingly hidden
from our view but surely encased within those sturdy walls, some
substantial remnants of that earlier structure."
Christchurch/Holy Trinity timeline to 1895 (compiled for
the Friends of Christchurch Park).
Listed structures in the park
Christchurch Mansion is
a Grade I Listed building and its fabric is therefore afforded a high
level of statutory protection.
Christchurch Park is on English
Heritage's register of Parks and Gardens (GD1135) II. A summary of the
parkland development in recent centuries, and a brief analysis of the
layout of the earlier post-medieval gardens are given in the Register
Grade II Listed Structures within the
The Cabman's shelter, erected 1895 (restored/rebuilt 2005),
The Martyr's Memorial, 50 metres north of the Mansion, dated 1903,
The Cenotaph, 170 metres west of the Mansion, erected 1923,
The Boer War Memorial, 70 metres southwest of the mansion; moved here
from Cornhill in the early 20th century,
The Brett ltalianate drinking fountain (Upper Arboretum), erected 1862,
Lodge, gateway and curved wall on Soane Street, c.1898,
Park Road gate piers, late 19th century,
Houses flanking Park Road gates (private residences),
Bolton Lane Lodge and gate piers, erected 1896.
See below for many of these features.
The story of Christchurch Park
'A plan of the Christchurch Estate belonging to Tho.
Fonnereau Esq. surveyed 1735 by John Kirby' shown above comes from the
Friends of Christchurch Park (see Links)
publication Christchurch Park &
Ipswich Arboretum souvenir and guide by David Miller, 2018. (A
detail from the map appears on our Bolton
Lane page.) The V-shape of lanes converging on
the site of The Woolpack has the legend – a bit illegible here –
'Little Bolton' beside it – at the top of what we today call Bolton
Lane. 'Little Bolton Field' stretches right down to this point. Hence,
today's Bolton Lane is appropriately named. However, in
of these things, matters are somewhat confused by the legend 'Bolton
Lane' to the west alongside the lane going north through a field named
'Great Bolton' (close
to today's Fonnereau Road, but inside the boundary of today's park).
Great Bolton was to become the Upper and Lower Aboreta.
The fish ponds are labelled variously 'Bason' (possibly a variant on
basin? – the Round Pond), 'Pond' and 'Dovehouse Pond' (today's
Another feature is the avenue of trees which starts
mansion and runs northwards all the way through today's park, across
Park Road through 'Great King's Field' (appropriatel, the site of
today's The Avenue residential road) and 'New Wood'. This suggests that
a carriage drive might have existed here, although it would have been
quite a climb uphill from the mansion.
'Pedders Way now Anglesea Road' is self-explanatory and below it
'George Lane' is today's St Georges Street
with the legend 'The Ruins of St Georges Ch', so the ruins were still
in existence in 1735.
At lower right is the position of the Church of St Margaret with two paths to St
Margarets Green more or less where they are today. Around the church
are areas of lans laid out for the mansion: Great Garden, Great Court,
Inner Court, Green Garden, Nursery, Wood Yard. The upper boundary of
the 'Wood yard' is approximately where today's Bolton Lane entrance and
the Reg Driver Centre are located.
Above: this detail from Edward White's
1867 map of Ipswich shows the parkland north of the Mansion and
Church of St Margaret when it was still in the possession of the
Fonnereau family. The round pond to the north-west of the Mansion is
clearly shown; dates back to the time of the Priory of Holy Trinity
when the friars had it constructed as a fishpond (the
nearby wilderness pond dates to the mid-16th century).
The ponds are fed by the natural springs in
the area. The bridleway runs north-south dividing the Lower and Upper
Arboreta with, across Henley Road, Ipswich School (here labelled 'Queen
Elizabeth's Grammar School'). Fonnereau Road is already labelled at
this time with the lower part named after the row of buildings here:
Park Terrace'. Today's Withipoll Street is here labelled 'Withpoll St';
a street map dated 1994 even has it as 'Withipool Street'.
As we have seen from the 1735 map, the name 'Bolton' crops up in
several locations at that time. By 1867, from the public school
northwards and from the Woolpack
public house (on the junction of Westerfield Road, significantly marked
'Foot Path', and Tuddenham Road) northwards, it is clear that much of
the area was still open farmland. 'Sand Hill Farm' is at the top left
'Bolton Farm' is at the top right, but more central to the park,
presumably the dividing line is today's Henley Road. 'The creation of
arboreta brought both gain and loss to the town. The ground on which
they were laid out had been meadow land, known as Bolton, separated
from Christ Church Park by a line of palings. This hilly grassland was
convenient playground for the children of the town as well as a cricket
ground. At holiday times the townsfolk would have felt the loss of a
customary place of resort.' (from Clegg, M. The way we went, see Reading list).
The 'Upper Reservoir', now developed as housing, stands on Summit
Avenue – today's Park Road and no wider than the bridleway – and none
of the large houses on the latter exist in 1867. Contrary to one
source, Bolton Lane does appear to be correctly named because it led
northwards to Westerfield Road which then ran into Bolton farmland.
Interestingly, this is marked 'Park Road runs along this line' on the
1735 map. Another point of interest is the legend 'MOUNT PROSPECT' at
the upper left: perhaps this fits in with the use of 'Belvedere' and
'Belle Vue' in the road names at the top of Albion Hill. As the land
rises steadily from the river level, the views across Ipswich must have
been quite panoramic – a little less so in the 21st century with all 'The
'ouses in between' (as Gus Elan sang in 1900).
1894. 50 acres of public Park
were offered for sale for £16,000 by the Fonnereau family; they had
already sold some land and it seems they would have sold off more of
Christchurch Park for development (house-building) had it remained in
their hands. While the Ipswich Council considered the purchase of the
Park, Felix Thornley Cobbold wrote to it: ‘Having contracted to
purchase Christ Church House with land adjoining I desire to offer the
property to the inhabitants of Ipswich as a free gift subject to
conditions. One condition which I make is that the purchase of the Park
which the Town Council have agreed to make subject to the consent of
the Local Government Board is carried through.’ A second condition was
that ‘the main structure of the house be preserved and the internal
fittings as far as practicable’. The offer was gratefully accepted by
the Council; it probably tipped the balance of the decision on the Park.
1895. 23rd February: Felix
Cobbold gave Christchurch Mansion to the town and the conditions were
agreed by the Council.
April: the Corporation purchased the central part of the Park, Clark's
Arboretum, along the lower part of Fonnereau Road and the area by
Westerfield Road. The Soane Street entrance soon followed.
The Park officially opened to the public on 11th April. Next day’s
local press reported its opening without ceremony in the morning; at
first only a few boys entered, then more people, then six to seven
hundred by the afternoon. During the years immediately following,
shelters were built and monuments erected or moved into the park.
1922. The Lower Arboretum was
held in private hands and allowed access only to those who paid
subscriptions but this ceased when it was bought by the Borough in 1922
and redesigned to include tennis courts and a croquet lawn.
1928. The Corporation acquired
the Upper Arboretum.
(Information mainly taken from Clegg, M.: The way we went, see Reading list)
N.B.: the Friends of Christchurch Park website (see Links) features a very useful timeline dating from the Little
Domesday in 1086 to the present day.
Park tea kiosk and toilet block
Part of the park refurbishment restored this
attractive kiosk in the upper part, close to the Westerfield Road
entrance. The date numerals on the central canopy drop have also been retained: '1898'.
Clubs and golf balls could once be hired for the little putting course
to the right. This seems to have been replaced by permanent table
tennis tables to the rear; suitable bats and balls may be hired from
the kiosk, we understand. And only a few yards away is the functional
architecture of the public toilet block which, perhaps surprisingly,
bears a foundation stone:
'THIS STONE WAS LAID
ALDERMAN V.H. REVETT
OF THE PARKS COMMITTEE
20, SEPTEMBER, 1957'
Henley Road entrance lodge
This attractive lodge house stands opposite Ipswich School (with
its Sherrington blue plaque) and looks as
if it is inhabited, which is a Good Thing. A pity that the clock is in
need of repair: no hands and cracks in the Roman-numeralled clock face
with the manufacturer/supplier:
See our page
on Public clocks in Ipswich for a 2018 view
building and its refurbished/replaced clock.
One of the most esoteric and
temporary pieces of public lettering in Ipswich is the sloping flower
bed beside the Brett Fountain (see below). In 2013 the decorative
'SUFFOLK FAMILY CARERS
Just inside the Henley Road entrance to Christchurch Park there is a
decorative drinking fountain
close to the Arboretum entrance opposite Ipswich School in Henley Road.
This has been refurbished as part of a major investment in the park
over 2006-8 and the section right above ground level reads:
'THE GIFT OF JOHN BRETT 1862'
Lower photograph courtesy Mike
John Brett was a prosperous shoemaker of Carr Street. In a letter
written to the Mayor in 1862 John Brett wrote: 'Feeling a deep interest in all
improvements connected with my native town, I have viewed with much
satisfaction the estabishment and progress of the public aboretum, and
being desirous of assisting in its improvement, I have caused to be
prepared by Mr Farrow of Carr Street a "Drinking Fountain" which I
desire to have placed therein.'
The Mayor accepted the gift and
the fountain was commissioned, it cost £64 to construct. The Brett
Drinking Fountain was described as being “in the highly ornamental
Italian style”. Mr Thomas Shave Gowing, a friend of John Brett, was
inspired by this generosity to write a poem about the drinking
fountain, which he recited at the opening ceremony. The Brett Drinking
Fountain was unveiled at noon on May Day in 1863, but without the
Mayor, Mr George Constatine Edgar Bacon who had declined to attend, or
the Deputy Mayor, Mr Edward Grimwade who also refused to attend saying
“cold water was a cold subject to make a speech upon”. It has been
suggested that the Mayor and his Deputy had political disagreements
with John Brett and Thomas Gowing and this is why they did not want to
be at the ceremony.
The Brett Drinking Fountain was the first
feature to be restored in Christchurch Park under the Heritage Lottery
Funded restoration project, with Suffolk Masonry Services carrying out
the restoration work. This time the Mayor of Ipswich, Mr Bill Wright,
and his wife were present to enjoy the opening ceremony and the poem
written by Thomas Gowing was recited by the Community Education and
Access Officer. It asks different groups of people to come forward and
drink from the four taps of the fountain. Pupils from St Margaret’s
Primary School and Ipswich High School took part in the ceremony,
coming forward to drink when called upon, together with some of the
structure is Listed Grade II (See Links for British
Listed Buildings): "Drinking fountain. 1862. Signed by F Arrow. The
gift of John Brett. Stone over brick core. Stepped plinth with
inscription recording gift on north side. Square-section structure with
its base elaborated by one projecting bow to each face. Superstructure
stepped back by moulded rebates. Main part has rebated corners fitted
with annulated columns with stiff-leaf capitals and each main side has
a central arched recess. In recesses are wrought-iron scrollwork and
fountain taps, only one of which is in place (replaced C20). Roundels
and square mouldings in frieze. Cornice with stylised waterleaf.
Surmounted by an obelisk finial in centre with corner finials below,
the latter separated by giant anthemions."
The Burton Fountain
courtesy The Ipswich Society
The habit of placing carved commemorations on low steps around
drinking fountains could once also be found on that near the children's
play area in the park. The above Ipswich Society photograph from the
1970s/1980s (?) shows fragments of lettering on a very degraded base:
'THE GI[FT] … L
May 1895: The Burton Drinking Fountain was gifted to
the town by Sir Bunnell Burton (1858-1943) and placed by the Ancient Avenue. This
was the same year that Felix Cobbold gave Christchurch Mansion to the
town on the condition that the Ipswich Corporation purchased the rest
of the property and that the house be preserved. The fountain has always stood at its present location. This drinking fountain was restored in 2006, ahead of the
Heritage Lottery Funded restoration project. Sir Bunnell Henry Burton
was director of the Ipswich firm of Burton, Son & Sanders, the
confectioners with the mill on the Wet Dock – which made Waggon
Wheels and Jammie Dodgers – their offices still stand in College Street. He was organist of St Mary-le-Tower Church, Mayor of Ipswich in 1905, a member
at the Ipswich Art Club 1910-1915, and for 38
years Chairman of the Governors at Ipswich School, being knighted in
1934 for political and public services in Ipswich. Burton was a
subscriber to the building of Rosehill Library: the earliest purpose-built branch in Suffolk. Descendants
of Sir Bunnell
still live in Ipswich today. Sir Bunnell Burton died in 1943 and his
memorial can be found in the cemetery of St
Mary's Church, Wherstead. For a
little more information about the Burton family firm see our Burtons page.
which must be the fragments of 'The gift of Sir Bunnell Henry Burton'
courtesy the Ipswich Society
The brass plaque reads: 'Burton Fountain 1896, Restored 2006'.
The restoration work commenced in 2006 – ahead of the Heritage Lottery
Funded park project – along with the Cabman’s Shelter, the Brett
Fountain and the Arts & Crafts Shelter in the Arboretum.
See also our page on the monument just down the hill from here: The Ipswich Martyrs memorial.
The Cabmen's Shelter
This handsome Listed Grade II structure has had a chequered history.
The Listing text (See Links for British
Listed Buildings) reads: "Formerly a cabmen's shelter which stood in
Cornhill and is now used as a public shelter in Christchurch park.
Dated 1892. A timber building with a boarded plinth and segmental
arched openings, 4 front and rear and 3 on the sides. The arches have
carved ornamental spandrels. There is an entrance on the south-west
side. Roof tiled, gambrel, with a central louvred cupola with ogee
leaded roof and a finial. The eaves cornice is richly ornamented."
The 1892 shelter was originally a place for Victorian cabbies to sit
and have a hot meal as they awaited their next fare. Their horses
waited outside while the men sat around a warm fire. One of the
complaints reported from travellers was that, in inclement weather, the
cabbies were reluctant to come out into the elements and take fares to
their destinations. The shelter originally sat
on the Cornhill but in
1985, when roads started to be developed for car traffic, it was towed
by a steamroller to the park (a well-known period photograph documents
the event). We recall it in the 1970s near the Soane
Street gates, in sight of Christchurch Mansion.
Each side of the shelter has lettering on the carved cornice; clockwise
from the open front:
The presence of the 'ICS' initials suggests that a sponsor of
the building (or, more likely, the rebuilding) was Ipswich
Co-operative Society. 'FB' remains a bit of a mystery. Perhaps the
initials of the carver of the decoration?
This was given an award of distinction at the
2008 Ipswich Society Annual Awards. Ipswich Borough Council was client,
designer and contractor. It had spent more than 20 years covered by
tarpaulin standing close to the Bolton Lane entrance after being ruined
in an arson attack. After more than a
year of hard work from craftsmen as part of a £100,000 restoration, it
is now inside the Westerfield Road entrance to the park. Part of a
£4.4 million programme of repairs, and refurbishments based on a
Lottery Fund award. Its history was remembered on 6 August 2006 as a
steamroller and horse-drawn cab
accompanied the shelter on its journey via St Margaret's Green, Bolton
Lane and Westerfield Road. The shelter was restored by chargehand Peter
and joiner Robin Smy at a base at Hadleigh Road Industrial Estate. It
was transported to the park by a low-loader lorry and the roof and
tiling added once the superstructure had been bedded in. Quite how much
of the original wooden structure is included in the rebuild is
London still has a number of working Cabmen's shelters.
They were provided by the Cabmen's Shelter Fund, a charity set up under
the Earl of Shaftesbury and others in 1874 with the object of providing
places where cabmen could obtain 'good and wholesome refreshments at
moderate prices'. Because cab drivers weren't
allowed to leave their
vehicles when parked at a stand, it was difficult for them to get a hot
meal while at work.
By this provision it hoped to keep the cabbies out of the pubs.
Between 1875 and 1914, 61 shelters were erected at a cost of about £200
each. As they were placed on the public highway the police specified
that they should not take up more space than a horse and cab. By 2006 only 13 of the cabmen's shelters remain. They
tend to be green, superior garden-shed like buildings often smelling of
and surrounded by 'black' cabs.
Further down in the park, along the path from the fountain and you will
see a large oak tree on the right. This plaque is situated at the base
of the tree. ("I was quite surprised when I saw it as it is a bit of
history which very few folk are aware of," says Mike O'Donovan.
Although this sort of plaque is common in the Mayors' Walk and
elsewhere in the park, it wouldn't normally qualify for this site as we
feel they are a bit 'un-permanent' or removable unlike, say, a stone
monument. However, we've accpted Mike's submission as it gives us the
opportunity to add a bit of historical background about this particular
Prince Of Wales (the one before the Prince Of Wales who abdicated in
1936) and some slightly salacious gossip.
Photograph courtesy Mike O'Donovan
'THIS OAK WAS PLANTED
G.E.C. BACON... MAYOR
ON THE WEDDING DAY OF
PRINCE OF WALES
TUES 10TH MARCH 1863'
Once widowed, Queen Victoria effectively withdrew from
public life. Shortly after Prince Albert's death, she arranged for
Edward to embark on an extensive tour of the Middle East. As soon as he
returned to Britain, preparations were made for his engagement. Edward
(Edward Albert 1841-1910) and Alexandra of Denmark (Alexandra
Carolina Marie Charlotte Louise Julia; 1844-1925) married at St.
George's Chapel, Windsor, on 10 March 1863. When Queen Victoria died on
22 January 1901, Edward became King of the United Kingdom and reigned
until his death on 6 May 1910. The Edwardian period, which covered
Edward's reign and was named after him, coincided with the start of a
new century and heralded significant changes in technology and society,
including powered flight and the rise of socialism and the Labour
The decorative contours
of the cast iron plaque, where the inner background is recessed with
lettering and border standing out in relief, contain sans serif
capitals of three sizes: the first and last lines (which follow the
contours of the plaque) and the fourth line are the smallest; line 2
and 6 are the next in size; 3 and 5 are the largest.
Edward and his wife established Marlborough House as their London
residence and Sandringham House in Norfolk as their country retreat.
They entertained on a lavish scale. Their marriage met with disapproval
in certain circles because most of Queen Victoria's relations were
German, and Denmark was at loggerheads with Germany. After the couple's
marriage, she expressed anxiety about their socialite lifestyle and
attempted to dictate to them on various matters, including the names of
Edward had mistresses throughout his married life. He socialised with
actress Lillie Langtry; Lady Randolph Churchill (mother of Winston
Churchill); Daisy Greville, Countess of Warwick; actress Sarah
Bernhardt; Alice Keppel; and wealthy humanitarian Agnes Keyser. How far
these social companionships went is not always clear. Edward always
strove to be discreet, but this did not prevent society gossip or press
In 1869, Sir Charles Mordaunt, a British Member of Parliament,
threatened to name Edward as co-respondent in his divorce suit.
Ultimately, he did not do so but Edward was called as a witness in the
case in early 1870. It was shown that Edward had visited the
Mordaunts's house while Sir Charles was away sitting in the House of
Commons. Although nothing further was proved and Edward denied he had
committed adultery, the suggestion of impropriety was damaging.
Edward's last mistress, society beauty Alice Keppel, was even invited
by Alexandra to his bedside at Buckingham Palace at his death in 1910.
One of Keppel's great-granddaughters, Camilla Parker Bowles, became the
mistress and then wife of Charles, Prince of Wales, one of Edward's
great-great grandsons. It was rumoured that Camilla's grandmother,
Sonia Keppel (born in May 1900), was the illegitimate daughter of
Edward. However, Edward never acknowledged any illegitimate children.
His wife, Alexandra, is believed to have been aware of most of his
affairs and to have accepted them.
The Dr John Blatchly memorial armillary
Above left: the sundial as it originally stood in the park, c.1935. It
later fell into disrepair and languished, damaged in the Wolsey Garden.
Above right and below: Thursday January 5 saw an impressive gathering
in even more impressive sunshine in the Christchurch Park Butterfly
Garden to officially unveil the beautifully restored armillary sphere
sundial which is dedicated to the memory of Dr John Blatchly MBE. David
Miller, Chair of the Friends of Christchurch Park, introduced the event
and the main speaker, John Field, paid tribute to John Blatchly’s many
contributions to the town and its history. Dr John Davis of the British
Sundial Society gave information about the structure and its function.
Finally, the Mayor of Ipswich, Roger Fern added his own words of praise
and “from one Headmaster to another” cut the red ribbon to officially
add this fine feature to the park. There is an excellent information
board mounted nearby.
On the stone base:
IN 2016 IN MEMORY OF
DR JOHN BLATCHLY MBE'
lozenges on the inner surface of the band from which the time can be
read, it is interesting that the Roman numerals read (in the above
photograph): '... XII, I, II, III, IHI, V, VI, VII...'. Why 'IHI'
instead of 'IV'?
Christchurch Park during the Summer Mela in 2014 (about an
hour-and-a-half before the torrential downpours) with the War Memorial
in the background. The sculptors were: Earp, Hobbs and Miller; the architect
was Edward Adams. It was erected in 1924.
See our full page on the Christchurch
Park Cenotaph features and lettering.
Boer War memorial
Above: the Boer War memorial with the Cenotaph
in the background.
The Suffolk Regiment Boer War Memorial by
Albert D. Toft (1862-1949) is cast in bronze on stone plinth. It is sited
in between the Mansion and the Cenotaph,
but was originally placed on the Cornhill in 1906 and moved to the park
in 1931. This fine, life-size sculpture of a solitary, bare-headed
soldier with reversed rifle and head bent in mourning was worked in his
studio by Albert Toft from a model who had served in the South African
War (1899-1902). Perhaps unusually, this war memorial is also a
portrait of an individual and is more powerful because of it.
Abov:the Boer War memorial boxed-in by fun fair gubbins during the Summer Mela in 2014.
The realistic treatment of the soldier, the detail of his uniform and
the portrait-like quality of his mourning expression contrasted with
the idealism of Toft's 1909 war memorial in Cardiff. The memorial was a
telling embodiment of the suffering of the Boer war and Toft repeated
the figure – with minor variations – in five World War I
Streatham, Stone, Thornton Clevelys, Leamington Spa and Smethwick,
dating from around 1920.
On the main plaque at top:
Followed on each of the four plaques by a list
consisting of name, rank and regiment.
SUFFOLK PEOPLE AS A MONUMENT
TO SUFFOLK SOLDIERS WHO LOST THEIR
LIVES IN THE SOUTH AFRICAN WAR
War Memorials website
October 2016 saw the launch of the Ipswich War
Memorials website (see Links). A remarkable project emanating from the Sergeant-at-Arms'
office of Ipswich Borough Council due to the efforts of by a small
group of dedicated people, self-funded, wishing to digitally preserve
images and information in recognition of so many Ipswich residents
lives. This takes at its starting point the
names of lost soldiers listed on the cenotaph in Christchurch Park,
then attempts with great success to trace the last address, occupation,
family etc. of the deceased. It intersects with the Ipswich Historic
Lettering website in its reliance on public lettering and its
opening-up of local social history, often from untapped sources of
information and images from private family archives. It has grown like
Topsy to encompass war memorials all over Ipswich including the Field
of Remembrance in Ipswich Old Cemetery. Well worth dipping into,
particularly if you have a relative who died in war.]
See also the Monument to the Ipswich Martyrs
close to the Reg Driver Centre in the park, the Christchurch Park Cenotaph, the Withypoll Memorials
Trinity timeline to 1895 (compiled for the Friends
of Christchurch Park).
More park lettering: Alexandra
Park, Bourne Park (and Bourne
Bridge) and Chantry Park.
See also our Lettered castings