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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.

Friends of Christchurch Park “Brass on the Grass” concerts

We very much hope that you will be able to attend one or more of our four Brass on the Grass concerts this summer.  These hugely popular concerts take place on Sunday afternoons by the Arts and Crafts Shelter in the Arboretum and although we provide some seating, you are encouraged to bring your own chairs/rugs and of course a picnic or other refreshments.  The ParkMobile will be giving free trips around the Park and an ice-cream van will be in attendance.  All concerts run for two hours, beginning at 2.30pm, and are completely FREE.  Once again, we are extremely grateful to our sponsors who make these concerts possible.

8 July             The Ipswich and Norwich Co-op Band sponsored by The Ipswich Society

15 July           Suffolk Phoenix Brass sponsored by a generous Friend of Christchurch Park

22 July           The Ipswich Hospital Band sponsored by Scrutton Bland

29 July           Stacks of Sax sponsored by The Lions Club of Ipswich

Ipswich Borough Council is complying with Anglian Water’s directive from 5 April not to use hand-held hosepipes in all its parks and open spaces during the current drought.

If the dry weather persists, they will be using water from two ponds in Holywells and Christchurch parks - up to 20 cubic metres from each site each day. The ponds are fed from a natural source and the overflow system (thousands of litres of water) normally drains either into the river or into the sewer system.

The Council tells the FoCP that it is doing everything it can to reduce the need for irrigation across its parks and open spaces, including planting more drought resistant perennial plants, using mypex sheeting and applying water retaining mulch in new landscape schemes.

Anyone seeking further advice on the hosepipe ban should consult the Anglian Water website: <http://www.anglianwater.co.uk/environment/water-resources/4025142DE63E4E96897DAC2FE1E519CE.aspx

The Friends of Christchurch Park are delighted to announce the publication of Portrait of a Park: a year with the wildlife of Christchurch Park by local artist and naturalist Reg Snook.  Highly informative, hugely entertaining and beautifully illustrated throughout, this 78 page paperback takes the reader on a journey through the wildlife year and brings vividly to life the sights and sounds of Ipswich’s very special town centre Park.

Reg has known and loved Christchurch Park for over forty years, and his curiosity and passion for the Park and its creatures shine out from every page.  Derwent May of The Times says: “This is a very enjoyable and informative book.  The author has a really deep and intimate knowledge of the birds and other creatures found in the Park, and his colour illustrations are splendid.  I hope the book attracts many readers.”  Simon Barnes of the same newspaper adds: “Urban parks are the interface between people and the wild world.  They need protecting, they need celebrating.  This book does both.”

Portrait of a Park, priced at £7.50, is published on 24 November 2011 and will be available from the usual retail outlets (including online - click the link to go direct to the book's page at www.amazon.co.uk, where the "Marketplace" vendor is our selected distributor) as well as direct from the Reg Driver Centre in Christchurch Park.  The Centre will also host a display of Reg’s artworks (many of which will be for sale) for two weeks from the same date. 

Proceeds from the sale of this book will be used to support wildlife projects in Christchurch Park, and Reg has generously agreed to support the Park with a percentage of the sale price of his pictures.  Both the book and the artworks will make fabulous Christmas gifts.

The official launch of Portrait of a Park will take place at the Reg Driver Centre at 7.30pm on Wednesday 23rd November, when Reg will introduce the book to us and talk about the birds and animals featured in it. There will also be an exhibition of his artworks for sale. Wine and soft drinks will be served. Limited parking will be available at the car park inside the Bolton lane entrance.

If you're a member of The Friends, don't forget that the launch event will be your last opportunity to obtain your free copy of Reg's book, and to buy additional copies at the special promotional price of only £5.00. If you can't get to the meeting, then please make sure that your application form (which formed part of the last FoCP Newsletter) gets back to Ann Snook by 23rd November.

New members will qualify for the offer so, if you're not already a member, now might be a good time to join. You can find out how on our "How to join the Friends" page.

Pat O'Connor and his team have been blessed with superb weather, over the last few days, for the Christchurch Mansion shoot of scenes from "Private Peaceful", the film of Michael Morpurgo's novel of the same name. The set-up team arrived overnight on Thursday 22nd September, to be ready for shooting Mansion interiors on Friday.  Later that on Friday, marquees and bunting appeared on the Mansion lawn, where the shoot continued through Saturday.

You can find out more about the film, its cast and crew at the Internet Movie Database website.

Thousands of people lined the route, and cheered and clapped as the Tour of Britain cyclists looped through Ipswich' Christchurch Park as part of their route from Bury St Edmunds to Sandringham. For those of us new to the sport, it was amazing to see just how many police motorcycles, police cars, official and support vehilces made up the vanguard and the tail of the convoy of some hundred or so competitors.  What it all made for, though, was a very colourful and noisy spectacle. Once the riders appeared, about 11.30, it was all over in moments as they came flying up-hill, past the Reg Driver Center and then up to the Park Road gate.

For more information about the race, visit the Tour of Britain website.

Christchurch Park was filled with the sound of chainsaws this morning as experts felled the Park's only Bhutan Pine, which just happened to be tree number one on the Park's Tree Trail publication. The tree had been in suffering a decline for several years, and a tree survey, conducted by IBC's tree specialists, had condemned it on safety grounds towards the end of last year.

The first seeds of the Bhutan Pine (Pinus Wallichiana) were brought iback to the UK from their native Himalayas in about 1826, and seedlings were marketed by nurseries from around 1836. It seems likely that the Park's example was planted near that time.

The Friends of Christchurch Park have made representations to the Council that a replacement Bhutan Pine should be planted in a suitable location within the Park.