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.
Christchurch Mansion and a small part of Christchurch Park are set to become film stars.
Ipswich Borough Council were asked to allow filming within the Mansion and the Park quite recently and, after some negotiation, have given their agreement. The shoot is for a film called 'Private Peaceful' based on the Michael Morpurgo novel. The all British cast is made up of George MacKay (The Boys are Back, Birdsong), Jack O’Connell (Eden Lake, Harry Brown, Skins), Richard Griffiths (Harry Potter, The History Boys, Withnail & I), Alexandra Roach (The Iron Lady), Frances De La Tour (Alice in Wonderland, The History Boys, The Book of Eli). You can read more about the film online at The Internet Movie Database.
Tony Miller was head gardener of Christchurch Park from 1966-91, and died in December 2010 just a little short of his 78th birthday. In his memory, Tony’s family has presented the Reg Driver Visitor Centre with a delightful painting by the artist and illustrator Richard Allen (www.richardallenillustrator.com), showing Tony at work in the Upper Arboretum. The painting hangs in the foyer and bears the title, “Upper Arboretum, Ipswich 1990, with Tony Miller, Head Gardener 1966-91”.
Friends and visitors to Christchurch Park will be saddened to hear of the death of Tom Wright just a few days ago. Ill-health had forced his retirement last year after 31 years with Ipswich Parks. He was perhaps best known for the superb carpet-bedding at the Henley Road entrance to Christchurch Park, of which the example in this photograph was a very fine example.
Tom was always happy to stop and have a chat, and his willingness to engage with passers-by, combined with his wealth of knowledge and experience, will be very much missed.
Friends of Christchurch Park might like to know that Tom's funeral will be on Thursday 11th August at 1.45 p.m. at the Ipswich Crematorium/West.
For the fourth year running, Christchurch Park has won a Green Flag award – the hallmark of quality for parks and open spaces across the country. The scheme is run by the organisation Keep Britain Tidy (www.keepbritaintidy.org/GreenFlag), which sets demanding criteria for its annual awards.
After the disappointment of a rainy start, last Sunday, to the Friends of Christchurch Park's summer season of brass band concerts, the sun smiled on Christchurch Park today (Sunday 24th July), when the Ipswich & Norwich Co-Op band entertained an appreciative crowd that eventually swelled to well over three hundred.
Sponsors of this occasion, the Ipswich Society, once again laid on complimentary champagne, and never seemed to turn anyone away. Their generosity as sponsors is very much appreciated by the Friends, and their generosity with the bottle was appreciated by one and all.
The band was in top form, and impressed with the breadth of their repertoire - Aida; Gershwin (the lovely, Someone to watch over me); Les Mis; a James Bond medley; the fiendishly difficult 633 Squadron; and a Disney medley towards the end. No wonder we clapped and cheered!
The fabulous Suffolk Phoenix Brass kicked off the Friends of Christchurch Park's summer series of Brass on the Grass concerts in fine style - despite the weather doing its best to dampen spirits.
Ten minutes before the scheduled start it loooked as though all the efforts of the Park staff (thank you Trevor and his team) to put out the chairs were in vain. But as David Routh took to the microphone to announce the band, the skies lightened and what followed was an hour and a half of pure pleasure.
The band - led by maestro Keith Nice - began and ended appropriately with "Singing in the Rain", but the crowd (that swelled in number to about a 100) enjoyed a variety of band numbers to please all ears.
After the interval, the rain returned with a vengeance and so the decision was made to shorten the afternoon just a little. But it was a wonderfully enjoyable event and the Band in particular are to be thanked for their enthusiasm and skills despite raindrops occasionally falling on their heads.
Christchurch Park is going global!
The festival of Global Rhythm, held in the Park on 2 July, currently features on the front page of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago's website.
Described on the webpage as "an explosion in cultural arts from around the Caribbean", this event was supported by His Excellency the High Commissioner Mr. Garvin Nicholas who enjoyed the day alongside "thousands of British nationals".