History of the Park
The Park has a rich and fascinating history dating back as far as the 12th Century, details of which can be found below.
Features of the Park
It is a Grade II listed park featuring the Grade I listed Christchurch Mansion. There are also 14 other Grade II listed structures within the Park, including:
- Drinking fountains;
- Martyr's Memorial;
- Boer War Memorial;
- Memorial to the Great War and Second World War;
- The Ice House.
Some of the Park's other features also have historic importance, such as:
- The Oval Lawn;
- The Bog Pond;
- The Round Pond;
- The Wilderness Pond;
- The Rock Garden;
- The Mayor's Walk;
- The Horseshoe Pond;
- The Ancient Avenue;
- The Arts and Crafts Pavilion;
- The Peace Garden;
- The refreshment pavilion;
- The Mansion area - which is designated as an area of Archaeological Importance;
- The Arboreta - which are significant here in a town setting.
There has been a settlement on the site of Ipswich since at least Saxon times. A bank and a ditch once surrounded the old Saxon town, and was strengthened in Norman times.
The area of the Upper Arboretum is possibly the site of Ipswich Castle, which was besieged by King Stephen in 1153 and demolished in 1176, although documentary evidence also points to other, more likely sites.
Christchurch Park is just north of the medieval town walls. St Margaret's Church and the area called St Margaret's Green borders the south of the park. In 1332 a Thingstead (the Viking name for a public meeting place and originally used before the Norman Conquest of 1066) is described as being "nigh the town wall in St Margaret's Parish", i.e. St Margaret's Green. A fair had been held there from Henry II's reign before 1189.
Bolton Lane had been called Thingstead Way. During the 16th and 17th centuries a lane, called Dairy Lane, ran parallel to where the lower part of Fonnereau Road is today, inside the park boundary.
The Doomsday Book notes that the church of Holy Trinity was in possession of 26 acres of land. This was almost certainly the Anglo-Saxon church that later became the site of the Augustinian Priory of the Holy Trinity founded about 1177.
A wealthy priory, it owned 643 acres (260 hectares) of farmland, fishponds and further land parishes around Ipswich, and held patronage over churches across Ipswich, Suffolk and Norfolk.
No buildings remain following Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries; the last remains, the tower of the Priory's church, Trinity Chapel, were blown up with gunpowder late in the 17th Century.
Trinity Chapel was probably on the site that Christchurch Mansion now occupies with its tower being recorded as standing to the east of the mansion in formal gardens.
A series of ponds, fed by the same springs that feed today's ponds, provided fish for the monks - carp, tench, roach and gudgeon. The horseshoe pool, stone/brick lined was probably a medieval conduit head and the springs in the park supplied water to the town at least from medieval times. These were the source of town streams and the medieval water system.
Last Updated: Tuesday 23rd June 2009