If you have an interest in history and art, Christchurch Mansion in Ipswich, Suffolk is a lovely place to visit. The exterior of the building is done in an intricate pattern of bricks and has a very attractive roof line. Located on the edge of Christchurch Park, it has been a witness to many historic events and even royal visits.
Christchurch Mansion was built on the site of a former Augustinian 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 using stone from the former priory. A deer park was constructed on the grounds and Queen Elizabeth I visited the house twice during her reign.
Gardens east and west of the house were added by the Devereaux family who owned the house in the 17th century. They welcomed King Charles II for a visit in 1668.
In the 18th century, Christchurch was purchased by a wealthy London merchant Claude Fonnereau and it remained in his family until 1892. Land developers purchased the estate, sold off some of the land and presented the mansion to the town of Ipswich. It was used to display art work and archeological displays and as additional classroom space for the Schools of Science and Arts. In 1931, on the 400th anniversary of his death, the Wolsey Gallery was added to the rear of the mansion and named after Cardinal Wolsey.
Today, Christchurch Mansion 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 period settings. The original furnishings of the house were sold at auction so while the pieces are period, there are none that are original to the house.
The rooms have displays that include furniture, fine arts, paintings and costumes. Descriptions and explanations of what is on display are provided so it is very interesting to just read about what you are seeing. The Wolsey Gallery has more paintings by Gainsborough and Constable than anyplace outside of London as if you needed more of a reason to visit here.
Parking is available on the street along Christchurch Park.