July 2018

The family’s association with Christchurch Park goes back even before Felix Thornley Cobbold’s gift of the Mansion in 1895.  (He is #201 on the family tree).  His portrait by the Hon. John Collier, paid for by public subscription, hangs in the Great Hall and he was appointed Mayor of Ipswich in Queen Victoria’s Jubilee year as a ‘thank you.’  In 2009 over 100 guests celebrated the centenary of Felix’ death by drinking a toast in the Great Hall.

It all started back in 1847 when Councillor James Allen Ransome proposed that the town should provide ‘a suitable place in which a healthy and harmonious recreation could be carried out.’  The Rev. William Charles Fonnereau whose wife was Kate Cobbold (#125) offered the land then known as Upper Bolton and a committee was formed to progress the matter under the chairmanship of John Chevallier Cobbold (#114).  The infant arboretum was visited by Prince Albert in 1851 when he came to lay the foundation stone for Ipswich School.

To continue our association, the Trust donated a Coast Redwood to Ipswich Arboretum in April 2015.  Regular readers will know that in January 2016 we donated another tree; this time a Cut-Leaf or Fern-Leaf Beech.  We were fortunate in that ‘our’ tree has been given a superb site on elevated ground close to the Henley Road entrance.  It was planted by David Miller and Steve Leech, Ipswich Borough Tree Inspector, who have cared for it lovingly ever since.  That may not sound much but water is heavy stuff, and it has been particularly thirsty during this summer’s drought.

David Miller, whose father was Head Gardener was born in Arboretum Lodge where he lived for 20 years.  His love of the Arboretum is unparalleled so it was not surprising when he published Ipswich Arboretum a History and Celebration in 2014 and the Trust was happy to provide a photograph of John Chevallier Cobbold for the book.  Despite his numerous other interests (he and his wife Sarah took part in our fund-raising cycle ride last year) David, who is now a very active Chairman of The Friends of Christchurch Park has picked up his pen again and Christchurch Park & Ipswich Arboretum Souvenir & Guide will be published later this year.  The Trust was privileged to be invited to write the Foreword and we will certainly be attending the launch at the Reg Driver Visitor Centre on 13th of October.

Proceeds from the sale of the book will go to the Friends of Christchurch Park for the benefit of the Park and the Arboretum.  Copies will be available on this website from mid-October and we hope readers will support Christchurch and the Trust.

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