Readers of my book may be aware that I collect postcards of the Park and Arboretum. These images offer fascinating glimpses into our past and provide valuable snapshots of our social history. I hope to share a small number with you in each newsletter.
“There has never been such a spectacle in Ipswich as was presented in Christchurch Park on Saturday afternoon.”
These were the words of the East Anglian Daily Times on Monday 15 May 1911. The occasion was a visit to Ipswich by The Right Honourable The Viscount Haldane. Richard Burdon Haldane (1856-1928) was Secretary of State for War between 1905 and 1912 and was to become Lord Chancellorfrom 1912 to 1915.
The primary object of Lord Haldane’s visit was to open the new Drill Hall in Woodbridge Road. However from a spectator point of view the chief event of the day was to be a grand parade of 2,000 Territorials in Christchurch Park, a then record demonstration of the citizen army of Suffolk.
Lord Haldane arrived by train from London at 1.49 pm where he was welcomed at the station by the Earl of Stradbroke and a guard of honour composed of the 4th Suffolks. He then proceeded to County Hall for a luncheon and then to the Drill Hall for the opening at 3.15 pm. An hour later his Lordship arrived at the Park. Thousands of spectators had gathered in the bright sunshine.
The Secretary of State then carried out an inspection and was accompanied by Lord Stradbroke, Lord Gwydyr, Col. W. A. Churchman (who was in command for the day), Col. G. S. Elliston, Colonel Townley and Captain White, the Adjutant of the 4th Suffolks. Units represented were the Suffolk Yeomanry, Royal Garrison Artillery, Royal Field Artillery, 4th Suffolks, 5th Suffolks, Essex and Suffolk Cyclists and the 1st East Anglian Field Ambulance. After the inspection his Lordship devoted some attention to the nursing auxiliaries and the Veterans after which there was a March Past in columns.
The final stage of the proceedings was a reception held by Colonel Churchman “in that charming portion of Christchurch Park which is sheltered between St. Margaret’s Church and the Mansion” where “a very pleasant hour was spent over the tea cups and the dainty refreshments provided”.
Just before 6 pm the guest of the day departed on a “motor journey” to Henham with Lord and Lady Stradbroke. In Ipswich later that evening a “dinner and smoking concert” was held at the new Drill Hall to celebrate its opening.
Note in the last image below you may just be able to make out the magnificent shelter on the top of Snow Hill that was destroyed by fire in 1954.