Bourne Park / Ransomes & Rapier / Stoke Park Mansion / Bourne Bridge

These contributions about the park memorials come from Mike O'Donovan (M'OD), summer 2010, with his own emailed commentary. They are supplemented by images and memories from Steve Girling (SG). Bourne Park lies away from the town centre with main entrances at the end of Wherstead Road and on Stoke Park Drive.

The War Memorial
April 2020: We are pleased to add
The Ransomes & Rapier War Memorial research paper by Jean Austin to this website (scroll down to the update).
'Here is a set of photos showing the memorial at Bourne Park. It has three sides and the photos show one side and the inscriptions on that side.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bourne Park 1Photographs courtesy Mike O'Donovan
The inscription at the bottom (below the crest) reads:
The main text of the memorial is shown next to the photograph of the weather-worn plate:
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bourne Park 2-Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bourne Park 3

Here are some more from the same memorial, side 2.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bourne Park 6
Again the weathered metal plate and the full text beside it:
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bourne Park 5   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bourne Park 8a
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bourne Park 7
The metal plaque at the bottom reads as follows:
MRS ANTHONY                    S. CORNISH
C.F. CRIPPS                             H.L. JUDD
 E. QUINTON                           H. ROBERTS
P.N SHARPE                           O. MAYES
       F. WHITING                            W.W. SEARLEY'

One of those listed in the first World War I memorial is Pte. Nathaniel Kirby, 4th Battalion Suffolk Regiment. See our Stoke Hall Road page for a possible/disputed link to Stoke Hall and Kirby Cottage on Belstead Road.

"These are the last from the monument [the statement carved into the stone]:

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bourne Park 9
Surprising really that there is such a lot of history involved which is practically unknown to many people. Sadly, the name of the individual mentioned on the plaque has been removed as you can see from the statement at the bottom. However, the person mentioned is Richard Stokes (1897 - 1957). His mother's family was involved in the engineering firm Ransomes & Rapier and he was a Labour MP. The metal plaque reads as follows:
1927 - 1957
1938 - 1957
1950 - 1951
1950 - 1957
1951' "(M'OD)
So where did these memorials come from?...

Ransomes & Rapier memorials
Richard Rapier Stokes
Contributions from Steve Girling: 'I worked at Ransomes & Rapier in the Maintenance Dept. I started my apprenticeship there in 1980 and was made redundant in late 1986.
For some reason when I was working during the summer shutdown of 1985, I went round the factory and took some pictures of the plant etc. (unfortunately I didn't get a photograph of everywhere). I have given a copy of these photos to Elizabeth Scott Townsend (who is a descendant of R C Rapier one of the founders of the firm) and who organises the annual reunions. I also gave permission for a copy of them to be given to the Ipswich Transport Museum for their "Engineering in Ipswich" section. It seems that I must have had a feeling that some of the factory needed photographing!' We are very grateful to Steve for these fascinating photographs.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ransomes memorial 1
Photographs courtesy Steve Girling
First, the memorial to Richard Rapier Stokes as it was originally mounted. The roundel contains the name and dates. His uncle, Sir Wilfrid Scott Stokes, was the inventor of the Stokes mortar (see below).
[followed, on the rectangular plate by the text as shown above:
on the stone panel below is carved:
‘RAPIER CANTEEN… [unreadable]’
and on the brickwork below that (painted in black characters):
‘A.S.S.   R.S.L.   N.F.D.   S.M.C.   W.J.B.   H.N.   H.C.H.    A.P.   E.L.M.   M.R.K.   C.T.   A.R.K.’
"Please find attached some photos of the Ransomes & Rapier war memorial tablets which are now in Bourne Park, the photos were taken in the mid eighties when the tablets were in their original position on the wall of the works canteen facing the bowling green." (SG)
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ransomes memorial 2
   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ransomes memorial 3
Below: the tablets in place on the wall of the Ransomes & Rapier works canteen.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ransomes canteen

"I have a high water level mark plate from Ransomes and Rapier, it was on the 'gate house' along Rapier St, you had to cross Rapier St to get to the Packing Shop Dept.; unfortunately I never measured the height of it on the wall but from memory it would have been 18 inches to 2 ft high, I assume it would of been cast in the works foundry and I think there were a couple more around the factory. I have since mounted it on a piece of wood.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ransomes Rapier 3
[UPDATE 1.4.2020: 'My husband discovered your website this afternoon when he was searching for Ransomes mowers.
I've only looked at a bit of it but there is wonderful information here - especially as I love local history.   I note on one page you mention Lord Gwydr - and I wondered if the attached info and photo of his funeral at Belstead churchyard is of any interest - Yew trees were planted at each corner of his grave and they are still there [please scroll down to see this remarkable photograph]. You also mention the R&R war memorial in Bourne Park - I researched the 'stories behind the names' and then 'Graham Jones' added additional information on the circumstances of some of the deaths and then Steve Girling got in touch with me - after I'd asked if anyone had photos of the memorial plaque to Richard Stokes - and that is how his wonderful photos of R&R came 'out' and (with his agreement) are now in the Ipswich Transport Museum and the Suffolk Record Office and Elizabeth Scott-Townsend has them.  I wondered if this information was of any interest to you. Regards,  Jean Austin.' We are most grateful to Jean for getting in touch. We are delighted to be able to include her research here to add to The Ransomes & Rapier War Memorial story. If you would like to contact Jean, please use the 'Contact us' link at the foot of this web page and we will forward enquiries.]

Ransomes & Rapier's Waterside Works
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ransomes & Rapier Waterside Works map
1904 map
Above: a map of Griffin Wharf showing the Ransomes & Rapier Waterside Works in its heyday at the beginning of the 20th century. The Griffin Inn (demolished in 1951 to accomodate an extension to the Waterside Works), which gave the wharf its name is on the southern corner of Bath Street as it meets New Cut West. It is marked 'Inn' and the 'Griffin Ferry' with a dotted line to the Island site and Promenade ran from just outside the inn (note that 'The Umbrella' shelter is labelled). The next buiding to the south is the 'Griffin Mill (Manure)' which processed phospahatic nodules into agricultural fertiliser, as did Edward Packard's factory in Coprolite Street.  The next road down is Harland Street – long disappeared under modern housing – and the G.E.R. branch railway can be seen along the wharf with a tramway round and into the works. 'Nova Scotia House' is at the bottom left.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ransomes & Rapier Waterside Works 1928
1928 image
The above 1928 photograph comes from the excellent Britain from above website (see Links) – if you subscribe for free, you can examine and zoom in on images. Harland Street runs away from the wharf with a curious rotunda attached to the building on the northern corner of the junction with New Cut West. Nearby, three heavy horses await their next goods trucks to be hauled into and out of the Waterside Works on the tramway. The G.E.R. branch line can be seen along the edge of the quay with steam-hauled goods. Between the horses and the railway is a lattice of right-angled supports for the temporary storage of the products of the engineering works. New Cut itself is off to the right; the west banks of the River Orwell continue to the left.

Ransomes & Rapier products spotted out in the world
Below: Ransomes & Rapier turntable at The Nene Valley Railway, Cambridgeshire in May 2017.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ransomes Rapier Nene Valley Rlwy.2017 photograph courtesy David Gaylard
Below: 'Another couple for your collection. Taken at Tyseley steam depot open day, near Solihull. D.G.' The sleek mallard green paintwork and British Railways transfer of the tender contrast with the cartouche-cut cast iron branding plate, prominently sited on the turntable railings by Ransomes & Rapier – here using the boxed namestyle 'RAPIER'. The date of manufacture and even the British Railways contract number are included. The
Tyseley steam museum doesn’t seek to over-restore the paintwork, but leaves  the plate showing its age.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ransomes Rapier turntable Tyseley2018 images
courtesy David Gaylard
B.R.      CONTRACT NO. 1114 – M&E
OR. G.J.4985    IPSWICH.     ENGLAND.     1957'
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ransomes Rapier turntable Tyseley
The 1921 advertisement (below) from the excellent Grace's Guide website (see Links) proudly displays the full company name in stylish lettering, giving their London offices address.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ransomes Rapier ad 19211921
Below: Ransomes worldwide.

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ransomes buffer IndiaPhoto courtesy Mark Beesley, 2014
Mark Beesley took the above photograph in Kalka in India, at the railway station which is the terminus for the narrow-guage 'Toy Train' that runs up through the hills to Shimla. The relief lettering on the buffer casting reads:
The Ransomes Engineering breakaway company of Ransomes & Rapier Ltd, founded in 1869 and based at the Waterside Works close to Griffin Wharf (see Wet Dock map), soon made a name for itself that was second to none. In the 1870s it took a leading part in supplying equipment for the Welsh narrow-gauge slate railways, and also for similar railways on sugar plantations far across the sea. Ransomes & Rapier made equipment not only for railways in Britain but for lines in China, India and other parts of the world; they manufactured sluices for the Aswan Dam and for other water control schemes, and  built the biggest walking dragline in the world. A testament to their quality and workmanship is the excellent condition of the Kalka railway buffer housing kindly photographed and sent in by Mark. Incidentally, Stoke Hall which once stood off Belstead Hill was the home of Robert James Ransome (1830-1891) of Ransomes and Rapier – see that page for a resumé of the company history.

[UPDATE 19.1.2022: Ipswich roping expert Des Pawson (see Links) has got hold of a copy of a catalogue from Thos & Wm Smith, Wire rope makers, Newcastle. circa 1896-1901 – the document found in Australia. It has three Ransomes & Rapier cranes illustrated (for the Manchester Ship Canal, the Madras Harbour Board and Great Eastern Railway Co., Harwich) as well as a full written description of the Harwich one and a testimonial to the quality of the wire rope. Click the link to view the PDF file – and thanks to Des for sending selected pages from the catalogue (perhaps a unique copy).]

Many other examples of Ransomes & Rapier and Ransomes Sims & Jefferies products can be found all over the world.

The Stokes Mortar (
Sir Wilfrid Scott Stokes)
Steve Girling continues: '... Two pictures (sorry, they're blurry – they are copied from a slide) taken in the mid-eighties before the R&R factory was demolished, I assume the plaque was 'lost' in the demolition, the plaque was on a wall in the Hydraulic Bay at the Wherstead Rd end of the Top Shop Dept.'
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ransomes Rapier 1   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ransomes Rapier 2Photographs courtesy Steve Girling

From Grace's Guide (see Links):
'Sir (Frederick) Wilfrid Scott Stokes (1860-1927), civil engineer and inventor of the Stokes gun, and managing director of Ransomes and Rapier.
1885 Joined Ransomes and Rapier of Ipswich as assistant to Richard Christopher Rapier, the managing director.
1907 became chairman of the company, holding both top offices until his death.
WWI [World War I] Designed the Stokes gun [or Stokes mortar] in response to the army's need for a lightweight, portable mortar. It was rejected by the War Office in December 1914 because many shells missed their targets, but the gun was subsequently used in the trenches at the battle of Loos in September 1915, firing smoke shells.
1915 Stokes was one of the scientists and engineers involved in the munitions invention department.'
The Stokes mortar remained in service into the World War II, when it was superceded by the Ordnance ML 3 inch mortar, and some remained in use by New Zealand forces until after the Second World War.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stokes & his gun
'...some photos I have taken from a book celebrating the first 80 years of Ransomes & Rapier [80 years of enterprise 1869-1949] from which you may get some helpful info.'
Ipswich Historic Lettering: R.R. StokesMr R.R. Stokes, M.A., M.P.
R.R. Stokes became Managing Director of Ransomes & Rapier in 1927 and was MP for Ipswich from 1938 (later Minister of Works and a Privy Councillor) ... 'who is named on the memorial tablet now in Bourne Park.'

'Thought you may be interested in this silver medallion given for war work at Ransomes & Rapier; it was issued unnamed. I have got 2 of these in my collection.' (SG)
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ransomes medal
The hallmarks on the reverse (including the silversmiths: 'W&S') indicates that this is a medal containing silver which meets the sterling standard of purity: the Lion Passant. The obverse side features the Ipswich coat of arms and the date.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ransomes swing bridge smallSee our Island site page for  the Ransomes & Rapier lock swing-bridge.

The park gates (Alderman W.F. Paul, Prince Henry)
The two images below are on the gates at the entrance to the Bourne Park.
'The Prince Henry mentioned was one of the sons of King George V and was born in 1900 and died in 1974. He was one of the present Queen's uncles. As a matter of interest he and his wife appear on a 1945 Australian postage stamp. By the way, the Ipswich Lettering site keeps getting better. It's a marvellous record of the town. '(M'OD)
See our page on More almshouses for more about the W.F. Paul Tenement Trust.
See our Paul's malting page for the story of the company and its importance to Ipswich.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bourne Park 4Photographs courtesy Mike O'Donovan
Grateful thanks to Mike O'Donovan for these examples and the background detail. An anecdotal addition: the garish yellow of the cast iron gate memorials above seem to sum up the state of Bourne Park in around 2009: a bit run down. In cycling down the whole length of Constitution Avenue, as we discover it's called, from Stoke Park Drive (see note below) to the Wherstead Road entrance, one finds a pleasant public park – with good children's play area – bordered by housing, scrubland, Belstead Brook, a main road and a railway line. A bit depressing, those boarded-up wrecks of buildings at the Wherstead Road entrance. They ought to get someone to live in the corner one with the clock (get it to tell the right time...) and sell ice creams and teas from the smaller one.

The Arch / Arch Cottage
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Arch Cottage2013 images
Down to Arch Cottage and the gentleman who lives there was very forthcoming. His cottage was built in the 1700s, when it must have stood in open land with a view of the river at Bourne Bridge (see below). This, of course, was long before the nearby embanked railway (initially the Eastern Union Railway in 1846, terminating in Station Street near Croft Street until the station moved to its present site in 1860) and had two acres of land including the current caravan site. While this gentleman was in the RAF, his father sold the adjacent front lawn to his brother who built a house on the site: Meadow Bank Cottage (visible through the arch, below). He was obviously born and bred there as he remembers the steam trains going by. He loves trains: 'You can set your watch by them'. 
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Arch 4   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Arch 3
The impressive arch which allows public access
through the embankment to the park (and, of course, the two cottages) is worth a look. It bears a stencilled number as with so many railway bridges around the town. But what was Arch Cottage called during the many years before the railway – and the arch – arrived?
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Arch 1

See more details on the railway and Stoke Tunnel on our EUR, Croft Street page.

Stoke Park Mansion (home of Peter Burrell, Lord Gwydyr)
The name "Stoke Park" can be confusing: in the early 1900s it was a large estate and the home of Peter Burrell who became Lord Gwydyr in 1870, County Magistrate and High Steward of Ipswich (see our Street name derivations entry for Burrell Road and Gwydyr Road – including a suggested pronunciation). We're calling the house 'Stoke Park Mansion'.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Park periodPostcard of Stoke Park, 1914
The small print (postcard?) below is attributed to 'F.B. Russel' (Frederick Brett Russel, 1813 - 1869, who worked from a studio in Berners Street, Ipswich), published by 'Capone'. It shows 'STOKE PARK, NEAR IPSWICH; THE RESIDENCE OF ROBERT BURRELL, ESQ.' Robert Burrell (Peter Robert Burrell) occupied the mansion until 1909, so the depiction of the house pre-dates his death.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Park period 2Courtesy Francis Beaumont
An 1885 directory describes Stoke Park – not to be confused with Stoke Hall mentioned above – as a handsome mansion in a well-wooded park of 500 acres, commanding beautiful views of the river. It was the private house of Lord Gwydyr, but was a favourite place (presumably the parkland?) for Sunday School treats and children's outings. It was demolished in 1930 but some of the mature trees apparently still stand on the Stoke Park housing estate around the Bourne Park area to the west of the Orwell. The map below gives some idea of the house and its surroundings, including 'Icehouse Covert'. Note the legend 'Round House' to the west of the main house (see also the early 1930s map below).
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Park map

W.M. Roberts' book Lost country houses of Suffolk (see Reading list) gives a fascinating glimpse of this vanished mansion.
Stoke Park (demolished c. 1930)

Stoke Park stood to the south of the road from Ipswich to Belstead village. It was in the parish of St Mary Stoke, which was in the Liberties of Ipswich. It was described in 1918 as lying ‘upon an acclivity rising from the Western bank of the River Orwell, and commands exceedingly beautiful prospects of the scenery along the River Banks’.

The manor of Stoke was held before the Reformation by the Abbey of Ely. On the Dissolution of the Monasteries it passed to the Dean and Chapter of Ely Cathedral. By the early 17th century an interest in Stoke Park was held by William Acton, who left it to his cousin, also called William Acton. The 1829 edition of The Suffolk Traveller refers too ‘the manor of Stoke-hall, by which we do not mean the modern house by the church but what is now called Stoke-park’, stating that it was held by Nathaniel Acton of the Dean and Chapter of Ely.

A map dating from 1787 shows an unnamed building located near the site of Stoke Park and one dating from 1801 shows Stoke Hall on the north side of Belstead road near the church of St Mary near the Orwell. Even at this early date there seemed to be a need to distinguish the two houses. In 1840 Stoke Park was acquired by the Honorable Merrick Lindsey Peter Burrell, a member of a family whose seat since the late 17th century had been at Langley Park, Beckenham in Kent. It seems likely that the estate came on the market following the death of Nathaniel Lee Acton in 1836.

M.L.P. Burrell was the younger son of the first Lord Gwydyr who married the eldest daughter of the Earl of Ancaster
(see Street name derivations for Ancaster Road). Burrell died in 1848, to be succeeded at Stoke Park by his eldest surviving son, Peter Robert Burrell (see Street name derivations for Burrell Road), who became the fourth Lord Gwydyr, succeeding a cousin in that barony. Peter R. Burrell died at the age of 99 in 1909. On the death of his only son six years later the barony became extinct and the Stoke Park estate was inherited by his granddaughter, the wife of Sir John Henniker Heaton. Lady Henniker Heaton put the whole estate up for auction in 1918, with the house contents being sold the following year. After various auction/sale attempts, Percy Barker owned much of the estate by 1922 and he sold seventy-six acres of it to Alderman W.F. Paul. He presented it to Ipswich Borough Council for a public park (Bourne Park – see the gate medallion images above). The date of demolition of the mansion is unclear, but by 1935 a new house had been built to the design of local architect H.R. Hooper. Ironically, perhaps, this house was itself demolished in 1968 and the estate was acquired for housing development. Over fifty years, the whole of the Stoke Park estate, apart from the Stoke Park Wood local nature reserve (see below) and Bourne Park, had become a suburb of Ipswich.

Stoke Park is stated to have been 'built on the site of an old house of the same name according to plans approved by Peter Lord Gwydyr'. Little is known about the house that it replaced, except that the Tithe Map of 1840 shows a large building consisting of two blocks, the south side of one overlapping continguously the north side of the other.  The new house may have been designed bu Richard Makilwaine Phipson, but that is by no means certian. It had eight bays on the south (garden) front and five on the flank, the windows on the upper floors being sashed. It was a three-storeyed building with a wing projecting to the rear on the west side and a two-storeyed wing to the north-east containing the domestic offices. It was built of white Suffolk bricks with a hipped roof and string courses. The entrance was at the southern end of the west front with an Ionic-pillared porte-cochere leading into a single-storeyed entrance hall. On the garden front there was a single-storeyed open collonade of nine pillars onto which French doors gave access. [See the coloured illustration above.] On the east front there was a single-storey extension matching the entrance hall and leading to a conservatory.

The house had five 'noble entertaining' rooms – saloon, two drawing rooms, library and dining room together with a billiard room and study. The main rooms had decorated ceilings and marble chimneypieces, the principal drawing room being decorated in the Adam style with a marble and scagliola [imitation mineral made of plaster mixed with glue and dyes which is then painted or polished] chimneypiece inlaid to represent fluted columns with Ionic capitals. The oak staircase from the saloon led to thirteen bedrooms in the south wing, those on the first floor being arranged in two suites of three rooms each. The west wing contained four bedrooms on each floor. In all there were three bathrooms.

The domestic quarters in the north-east wing provided all the offices normally required in a house of this size – butler's pantry strongroom, housekeeper's room, servants' hall, kitchen, scullery, larder, laundry rooms, game larder, brush room, lamp room, knife room, shoe room, wood house, oil room, coal houses and two cellars. On the upper floors of this wing there were nine servants' bedrooms, a housemaid's room, two pantries, drying room and box room.

The coach yard provided stabling for ten horses with a coach house, harness room and other offices together with a coachman's house. The kitchen and fruit gardens had a range of glass houses (comprising vineries and peach, cucumber, tomato and propagating houses, potting and tool sheds and the head gardener's cottage. There were extensive pleasure grounds and gardens including tennis and croquet lawns.
[Includes information from Roberts, W.: Lost country houses of Suffolk, see Reading list]

Stoke Park in the early 1930s
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Park map 1930Early 1930s map
The above map from the early 1930s shows the location of the house and parkland in relation to the Ipswich-London main line at lower right. Arch Cottage is clearly shown at mid-right with the main carriage-drive (later Corporation Avene across Bourne Park) running westwards and curving round Fishpond Covert to reach the mansion. The wavy road at upper left is on the line of today's Fountains Road. 'Round House' on the earlier map (shown above) is here named 'Round Lodge'.
The Grade II Listing text reads: 'Round Lodge, Lodge to Stoke Hall (demolished). c1820. Roughcast and whitewashed brick; thatched roof. Circular plan. One storey. NE side with a timber verandah supported on cast-iron compound lattice piers. Wide eaves under conical roof with a central hexagonal chimney. Pointed-arched doorway to south, externally planked, internally with intersecting Y-tracery. Four 2-light Y-traceried casements at intervals round circumference, that to south-west replaced C20. Interior: dished plastered ceiling. Central fireplace and free-standing flue.' We haven't been able to view this building, but assume that it still stands amongst the trees.

The modern housing developments in this area make it difficult to imagine the country mansion and its many game-bird coverts and grassland. The Wherstead 'Brick Works' – source of the Wherstead Red – is shown at the lower right, south of the railway line.
Comparison with 1994 street map
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Park map 1930 comparison 19941930s/1994 comparison maps
Overlaying the 1930s map (here shown in blue) with the 1994 street map of the new housing developments (in red) shows the proximity of the footprint of Stoke Park Mansion to today's Fountains Road. The Mansion and Round Lodge are shown in green. The carriage drive matches 'Corporation Avenue' across the modern Bourne Park. Apart from Belstead Brook and the Great Eastern Railway, the line of Belstead Road runs diagonally across the upper left corner which can bee seen on the 1930s map. The dramatic colonisation of open farm and woodland for later housing is notable. Part of Wherstead Brick Works lies under the modern A137 and part under today's artificial ski slope.

[UPDATE 19.1.2022: ‘I was reading with interest the history of Stoke Park. I guess many people might know this but wanted to share with you my recollections of Stoke Park in 1968. Our family moved into Byland Close, which was the last street that existed in this new housing estate – so before Stoke Park Drive / Fountains Road etc.
We children used to love exploring the woods that still existed beyond our close. Probably where Lanercost Way§ is today, there was a small, derelict house with green houses and a sunken garden.  It was quiet small inside the house and we thought it was haunted.  Further along, approaching What is now Fountains Road, I recall finding a couple of gravestone for dogs. Then where Fountains rRad is, I recall the beautiful Stoke Park house that had been owned by Peter Burrell. There were still elements of a formal garden that was overgrown but you could still see roses dotted about. I think some of the home owners came and dug up remaining plants for their new gardens. As a child I was sad that it had to be knocked down and regret I did not take any photos. I wonder if anyone knows anything about the cottage we found and its history.
I finally recall the fishpond that had to be drained and ground pump before they built the Scout and Church building. Best regards, Richard Arthur.’ Thanks to Richard for these recollections from his childhood – always valuable in local history. If vsitors to this website have anything to add, please click 'Contact us' at the foot of this page.]
§Lanercost Way: see Street name derivations.

Disambiguation (in the terminology of Wikipedia)
1. 'Stoke Park', while being the name of the parkland, is also the name of the Burrell mansion here we call it 'Stoke Park Mansion' to make it clear. It has been demolished.
2. 'Stoke Hall', built on the rise of Stoke Hill and next to St Mary-At-Stoke Church, was built by Thomas Cartwright in 1744/45 ans was once the home of  Robert James Ransome (1830-1891).
It has been demolished.
3. 'The People's Hall' in Stoke Street, close to The Old Bell Inn, has confusingly had the name 'Stoke Hall' added to its fabric. It still stands.

Stoke Park Wood Local Nature Reserve
Opposite the Stoke Park Drive entrance to Bourne Park is a small nature reserve.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Park site

Now an area of woodland, scrub & wildflower grassland, it had originally been the location of Stoke Park Mansion. Although an earlier house had existed here, the last mansion was built in 1838 by Peter Burrell. In the early 20th century this estate was twice subject to death duties and these events and the lack of an immediate heir may have been the primary reasons why the estate was broken up.*** The mansion was demolished in the 1920s, & no trace of it now remains.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Willoughby Road street sign2016 image
Willoughby Road commemorates the son of Peter Burrell, later Lord Gwydyr; Burrell supervised the layout of the roads east of the railway station.
[***To get an idea of the size of the estate: 'The first death was that of the near centenarian “Peter Robert Lord Gwydyr who died on the 3rd April 1909”. He was born 27th April 1810 and inherited the estate on the death of his father in 1848 “nearly a quarter of a century before he succeeded to the peerage, on the death of his cousin, in 1870”. He is credited with the transformation of Stoke. “During the 60 years (or thereabouts) Baron Gwydyr held the Stoke Park estate the whole district has been literally transformed ... First he undertook the rebuilding of the mansion and the remodelling of the really charming gardens and grounds, this involving expenditure of about £60,000”. Also “the opening of two fine roads leading to the Railway Station – Willoughby Road [see above image] and Burrell Road – were due to his initiative”. “This estate, which lies just above the Railway Station, has now been partially covered with residences abutting upon roads called Ancaster, Gesteven and Gippeswyk – names which blend the ancient titles of the family with ancient Ipswich” (ref. Obituary East Anglian Daily Times 5th April 1909). His successor was Willoughby Merrik William Campbell Burrell the last Baron Gwydyr who died without an heir on 13th April 1915. His mother had been Sophia Campbell whose father had owned Birkfield Lodge. Following the death of the last baron Gwydyr the estate was offered for sale on 4th July 1918 “By Order of the late Lord Gwydyr’s Executrix”. Apart from the park of 300 acres, the lands included Mill House, Belstead, Stone Lodge in Stoke, Gippeswyk Hall, and six farms; The Home, Maiden Hall, Gippeswyk, Hill House in Sproughton, Gusford Hall, and Crane Hill. This site was offered for sale as part of Lot 1 the “Freehold and small part Copyhold Residential and Sporting Estate distinguished as Stoke Park ... comprising of A Nobl
e Mansion Standing in a Beautifully Timbered Park ...']
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Park signThe nature reserve sign
The sign reads:
Stoke Park Wood Local Nature Reserve was once part of the much more extensive Stoke Park Estate, centred around the mansion, which was located about 150 metres to the North of this sign.
The wooded part of the Reserve was formerly known as "Fishpond Covert" which reveals its function for the estate. The large fish stock pond (now lost beneath Stoke Park Drive, St Peter's Church and the Scout Hut) would have provided fresh fish for the house. The covert (planted woodland) was designed specifically to provide shelter and ideal food for pheasants and other game birds, again providing a source of fresh food. This area could be seen as a 'living larder' for the house!
Corporation Avenue, which runs across Bourne Park, follows the route of the main drive to the old house and continues across this Reserve as the main path. The trees along the Avenue were planted in 1927 at the opening of the Park. Bourne Park itself was given to the people of Ipswich by Alderman (Councillor) William Paul to meet the increasing need for space for recreation.'
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Stoke Park 3

The funeral of Peter Robert Burrell, 4th Lord Gwydyr

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Lord Gwydyr's funeral 19091909 image courtesy Jean Austin
[UPDATE 20.3.2020: Jean Austin has sent this information along with the above marvellous photograph of Lord Gwydyr's funeral in 1909.

'Peter Robert Burrell, 4th Baron Gwydyr (24 March 1810- 3 April 1909) was High Sheriff of Suffolk in 1858. In addition, he was Secretary to the Lord Great Chamberlain, High Steward of Ipswich, and Chairman of Quarter Sessions, Suffolk. He succeeded to the title of 4th Baron Gwydyr, of Gwydyr, County Carnarvon in 1870. He was born at Langley Park, Beckenham, the son of Lindsey Merrik Peter Burrell and Frances Daniell, and the grandson of Sir Peter Burrell, 1st Baron Gwydyr.
He married Sophia Campbell in Stoke in 1840, and they had one son, Sir Willoughby Merrik Campbell Burrell, 5th Baron Gywdyr (1841–1915).
He later married Georgina Holford in Gloucestershire in 1856 and they had one daughter, Hon. Cicely Burrell (born 1858).
Before his death, Lord Gwyder was the oldest living member of the peerage.
Peter Robert Burrell, 4th Lord Gwydyr of Gwyder in the County of Carnarvon and of Stoke Park in the County of Suffolk, died 3 April 1909, within three weeks of entering his 100th year.  The picture (from a postcard) is of the funeral of Lord Gwydyr at Belstead.']

Bourne Bridge
Close to the Bourne Park entrance is the original Bourne Bridge, now by-passed and only open to pedestrian and cycle traffic. Mike O'Donovan writes (3 April 2011): "You may find the attached photo of interest. It's of a plaque on Bourne Bridge. The words are now very weather worn, and it's another interesting item of Ipswich history. The inscription reads:

BOROUGH                                                                COUNTY
OF                                                                               OF
IPSWICH                                                                   SUFFOLK

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bourne Bridge2011 photograph courtesy: Mike O'Donovan
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bourne Bridge 1   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bourne Bridge 22016 images
The 1891 stonework is eroding but is still just about readable; the shields bear the arms of the town (lion rampant and three ships' sterns) and the castle seen on County Hall where it surmounts a scroll bearing the word 'SUFFOLK'.


Following the enactment of the Local Government Act 1888 the County Borough of Ipswich was created with the rest of Suffolk being divided into the administrative counties of East and West Suffolk. The County Borough of Ipswich had as its first mayor Nathaniel Catchpole (1889-1890). He has a portrait painted by Frederick George Cotman (1850–1920) which is in the Ipswich Museums collection and which can be seen on the Art UK website. Nathaniel Catchpole is prominently commemorated on one of the plaques on Tooley's Almshouses.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bourne Bridge 3
Above: the old Bourne Bridge with its rectangular and trianglar niches (four of each) viewed from the Wherstead Road end – the 1891 stone tablet can be seen just past the compiler's bicycle in the left wall. In the background, centre left, is The Ostrich public house (see below).
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bourne Bridge 4   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Bourne Bridge 5
Above: the views from one of the niches in the bridge over the Bourne River where it joins the River Orwell (labelled
'Ostrich Creek' on some maps) with Canada Geese in the foreground; in the opposite direction the rather more brutalist, canalised Bourne River fed by Belstead Brook beneath the southern, dualled part of Wherstead Road; this concrete bridge replaced the old Bourne Bridge (in the 1980s?).

Ostrich Terrace, 568-574 Wherstead Road
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ostrich Terrace 1   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ostrich Terrace 2
2016 images

on the four houses facing the Bourne End Convenience Store echoes the 'original' name of the Wherstead public house across the old bridge.
See also our Bostock Road page for nearby interestingly named houses.

The Ostrich public house
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Ostrich period1963 photograph
Bourne bridge marks the boundary of Wherstead parish.  Near the bridge, on the Wherstead side, stands the Ostrich Inn, as it stood at the time of the New England migration.  In those days, however, oysters were still found in Orwell waters, and the name 'Oyster Ridge' had not been corrupted to the name of the exotic bird whose effigy for many years adorned the swinging signboard of the roadside tavern. It's instructive that when this pub was bought and greatly extended in the nineteen nineties it was renamed 'The Oyster Reach'.
Another source suggests:
"Ipswich, the county Town of Suffolk, and the Port itself, is spread out with the Ostrich public house by Bourne Bridge marking the boundary. The Ostrich is four centuries old and  named after part of the crest of the Earls of Leicester who once owned the land on which is stands.  It is also said the name ~Ostrich~ was a mistake caused by a drunken landlord whose slurred speech resulted in the sign writer mis-understanding his orders for the sign to be painted ~The Oyster Reach."
The oldest part of the pub (adjacent to Bourne Hill) dates from the 16th or 17th century, though it has been much altered and added to. According to Alfred Hedges' book, "Inns and Inn Signs of Norfolk and Suffolk", the inn has been in existence since 1612. 'The Ostrich' is Listed Grade II, despite some heavy modern additions and alterations.
[UPDATE 16.9.2015: 'The Ostrich at Bourne Bridge, WAS a corruption of Oyster Reach (try saying it in a heavy Suffolk accent) as there were for many years oyster beds in this area. 'Reach' meant an area of foreshore. My grandfather lived in the cottages opposite the pub in the 1940s as a cowman, tending a herd on the fields at Bourne Hill.
Unknowingly, in the 60s and 70s, I spent many summer holidays close by, down at 'the basin' on Bourne Bridge, before it was filled in, it was the summer meeting place (our private swimming pool – ha ha – depending on the tide) for many of the children from Maidenhall, who accessed it from the tracks at the ends of Halifax Road and Conway Close that led through to Wherstead Rd and Bourne Park.
Hope this is of interest. Well done with the website. Mike.'  Thanks, Mike. The tracks you mention are close to the small, numbered rail bridge over the pedestrian way down to Wherstead Road on our Rail bridges page.]

More park lettering: Alexandra Park, Christchurch Park (and Mansion) and Chantry Park.
See also our Lettered castings index page.

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