Select a news topic from the list below, then select a news article to read.
Portrait of an owl - Reg Snook's latest book on our resident owl, Mabel

Reg Snook's latest book, "Portrait of an Owl: My tales of Mabel

and other owls" was launched at a well-attended meeting of The Friends of Christchurch Park at the Reg Driver Centre on 22nd November. The book is the second in what many of us hope will be a long series of books about the wildlife of our favourite park. Reg's first book, Portrait of a Park: A year with the wildlife of Christchurch Park, was published in time for Christmas 2011 and is now in its third edition, and Reg's latest book is similarly enhanced by his paintings and illustrations.

You can buy the book locally, from Waterstones, WH Smiths, the Tourist Information Office and the Reg Driver Centre (price: £7.50). The book is also available from Amazon, with order fulfilment being provided by Landers Bookshop, Long Melford.

The Tour of Britain speeds through Christchurch Park
Christchurch Park couldn't have looked more beautiful this morning for the hundred or so cyclists who sped through the Park during the first few minutes of this year's Tour of Britain. Leaving the Waterfront at 10am, Olympic and Tour de France stars including Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish were out of the Park Road gates by 10.10am, but just had time to appreciate the glories of the Park and the Mansion. The thousands who turned out to cheer on their heroes will also have marvelled at the size of the accompanying entourage, with numerous police outriders and as many bicycles on the tops of team cars as being pedalled by the competitors themselves. The riders will complete the 126 mile first stage of the Tour to the Norfolk Showground in about 5 hours.
Portrait of an owl - Meet our resident owl, Mabel
After the stunning success last year of our first book, Portrait of a Park by Reg Snook, we are delighted to announce that a second volume, Portrait of an Owl, is currently in preparation. Using Mabel, the Park's famous tawny owl as a catalyst for the book, Reg takes us into the world of these magical nocturnal creatures. With his trademark mix of beautiful illustrations, cartoons and sketches he tells us all about Mabel and her life in the Park and recounts his experiences caring for owls over more than fifty years. The book (RRP £7.50) will be available well in time for Christmas and more information will be available on these pages soon.
Our new butterfly garden is now open to the public

On Thursday 6 September the Mayor of Ipswich, Councillor Mary Blake opened the new butterfly garden in Christchurch Park.

This garden is a real example of teamwork. The Friends have long promoted the idea of a butterfly garden in the Park but it only became reality through partnership with members of the "Green Team" from Ipswich School who designed the garden and carried out much of the building work (under the watchful eyes of the Park's gardeners) and the Papworth Trust who do so much for the Park.

The result is a stunning sensory garden that looked spectacular in the blazing sunshine at the opening.

The Park was graced not only with the presence of the Mayor, the Headmaster of Ipswich School and many representatives of the Green Team, the Papworth Trust and Park staff but also no fewer than six species of butterfly.

Pictured here is a comma feasting on one of the newly-planted buddleias. Do take a chance to view the garden which can be found at the north end of the Wilderness Pond.

Crack down on dog fouling

Dog fouling crack down – Council patrols will target offenders!

Ipswich Borough Council  recently released this press release which followed on from meetings with FoCP representatives and others:

"Every month approximately 5 tonnes of dog waste is collected from dog waste bins. That’s really good and we thank all those good people who are doing the right thing and clearing up after their dogs. Sadly not everyone is clearing up after their dog and there are still too many piles of dog mess left on the parks and streets. This is so lazy and irresponsible. Little children can accidentally step into it or even worse fall onto it. It can also get stuck into tyres on bicycles, baby buggies and wheelchairs and is very difficult and unpleasant to clean up. Dog waste can transmit bacteria and viruses including, tapeworm, roundworm, E. Coli, Parvo and more.

Highly trained staff within IBC which include Park Patrol Officers, Litter Enforcement Officer and Community Caretakers have joined forces and will be taking a tough line on those not clearing up dog fouling and dropping litter. The team are patrolling the parks, streets and Highways of Ipswich and will issue offenders with a fixed penalty notice for £50. There are very few permissible excuses for not clearing up after your dog and the team operate a zero tolerance policy, no messing!

We need your help too, if you spot an offender in your street [or in the Park], let us know and give us a description of the offender, both owner and dog, the times the route is walked and we will arrange a patrol. See it, report it to Park and Open Spaces tel 01473 432132 or online through the IBC website under "report it".

Bag it, tie it and bin it - this may mean taking it home to your domestic bin and not throwing it on the ground or up a tree when you leave the Park if no bins on your chosen route. Don’t leave it behind for others to tread in or it will cost you!"

Jubilee celebrations at Christchurch Mansion

This picture (courtesy of Pat Grimwade) shows people enjoying the Ipswich Hospital Band celebrating the Queen's Diamond Jubilee on 4 June 2012. Why not come along to the Park for "The Last Night of the Jubilee Proms" on June 30th? Join the Heart of England Orchestra for an evening of Proms classics and flag-waving favourites, with an explosive firework finale. Ticket information for this and all Ip-art events can be found at

The Queen's Diamond Jubilee, earlier this month, was celebrated in style in Christchurch Park. But this was not the first monarch's Diamond Jubilee to be honoured here. As can be seen in this early photograph (courtesy of Stuart Grimwade), the town's Mayor, Felix Cobbold, threw a party for children from elementary schools in the Borough on 24 June 1897, two days after the national celebrations for Queen Victoria's sixty years on the throne. Cobbold held a reception in front of the Mansion (he had only recently given the house to the town on condition that the Council purchase the rest of the Park which may explain the "Long Life to our Mayor" banner!). There were athletic races, steam roundabouts, booths and swings. The band of the Suffolk Regiment and the Stoke Excelsior Band provided the musical entertainment and after a bugle was sounded, the children were called to tea.

English Heritage has produced a wonderfully informative booklet on the nation's Victorian celebrations, which can be read by clicking here.

Anglian Water has lifted its hosepipe ban after the wettest April since records began 113 years ago. 118 mm of rain fell which is 255% of the long term average for April in this region. 

Are we likely to see a hosepipe ban again in the near future? Anglian Water says that "the chances of a dry winter are around one in nine, so to have seen two successive dry winters in the last two years is quite unusual; a third lies outside our experience".

However, the Environment Agency still says that we are officially in drought and the Park's management plan to use their water resources wisely in the coming months.

In the year that the Olympics come to London, a new “Park Run” has been unveiled in Christchurch Park.  One of five such circuits that have been introduced into Ipswich’s parks, a loop of this way-marked circuit is exactly 2.5 kilometres long. The course is also a healthy walking route and forms part of the Ipswich Heart Town initiative.

"Trim Trail": look out later in the year for three pieces of wooden gym equipment which will be added adjacent to the path that runs up the west of the Park near to the Bridle Way. 

To view the poster, click Here  

Mabel, our favourite tawny owl, has successfully raised yet another family - and she and her young have been caught on camera by Paul Sherman, an expert wildlife photographer, who has contributed generously to the Donated Images section of our website gallery.