Chantry Park is the largest town park in Ipswich. It extends over 124 acres of parkland and wildlife areas on the western edge of town.
Chantry Park is open at all times and can be accessed via entrances at:
Chantry Park facilities include:
Chantry Park has played host to several large music events and is a base for several charity fun runs. The Wildlife and Education Rangers hold events such as nature walks, arts and crafts activities, storytelling and trails for children of all ages. The Friends of Chantry Park are working towards developing some smaller events working closely with ActivLives. ActivLives has an open day every Tuesday from 10am where visitors can purchase plants from the nursery.
The park was designated a Conservation Area in 2005 and contains a County Wildlife Site. The grounds around the ‘Chantry’ Mansion were laid out in an Italianate style and are on the English Heritage register of historic parks and gardens. Plans to restore many of the original features are progressing.
It has a variety of habitats including ponds, grassland, native and non-native plants, and woodland - including old and veteran trees. Chantry is noted for the large meadow adjacent to the Beechwater pond. There is a sizeable population of reptiles within the County Wildlife Site.
A management plan is being reviewed during 2021 which will set out the vision for the continued restoration, enhancement and management of Chantry Park. It will be produced in draft form for consultation and adoption in late 2022. Information will appear on this page when the draft is available.
Chantry is a Grade II listed park in the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens. It contains three Grade II listed structures: Chantry Mansion, the Hadleigh Road Gate Lodge and the Hadleigh Road gates.
However, there are a variety of other landscape features within the park, such as:
In the 16th century Edmund Daundy, a local merchant and portman, donated the property to St. Lawrence Church, Ipswich for the purpose of founding a ‘Chantry’. The land was still open grazing at this time and it was not until 1668 that a house was built on the site by Sir Peyton Ventris.
Since that time, the Mansion has been enlarged (18th and 19th centuries), and, together with the parkland, developed extensively as a private estate through the 19th century under a succession of owners that included the Ventris, Barker, Collison, Lillingston and Kelly families.
The Chantry passed into public trusteeship in 1927, after it was saved from development by Sir Arthur Churchman, Lord Woodbridge of the ‘Churchman's’ tobacco dynasty. The park was officially opened to the public on the 17th May 1928 by Princess Mary, Viscountess Lascelles, later Countess of Harewood.
Chantry Mansion is a fine example of Italianate domestic architecture that dominated country house design in England from 1840s to the 1860s.
The parterre on the south front of the Mansion is a rare surviving example of the work of William Andrews Nesfield (1793-1881), considered by many to be Victorian Britain’s most important landscape architect.
From at least the mid 19th century, the park has played an important role in the social and cultural development of Ipswich and surrounding district, regularly hosting a varied programme of band concerts, charity fêtes and other civic events. The early 20th century rejuvenation of the estate under the direction of Mrs Jump benefited from advice supplied by Roger Crompton Notcutt (RCN) of Woodbridge (1869-1938), founder of the Notcutts Nursery empire.
The park has been in public ownership since 1927, with the walled garden used as a nursery by the Borough Council’s Parks Service, and the Mansion has been used as a friendship centre, convalescent home and since 1992 has been leased by the Sue Ryder Foundation as a home for those with complex neurological needs.
The nursery is now used as an annex of Suffolk New College to train students in all aspects of horticulture and arboriculture, with a facility for the charitable organisation ‘ActivLives’ who work with people with learning disabilities, teaching them horticultural skills.