In 1545 the Christchurch Estate was bought for £2,000 by a prominent London merchant, Paul Withypoll and his son Edmund. Edmund pulled down the ruins of the existing Augustinian Priory and used much of the stone to build Christchurch Mansion. The house was constructed at the same time and with much the same ground plan (resembling an ‘E’ shape) as the now demolished Redgrave Hall. Apart from the construction of the house, little else is known about the development of the estate under the ownership of the Withypoll family, but we do know that Edmund remodelled the ponds and turned part of the estate into a deer park. The west wing of the house may have been added in anticipation of Queen Elizabeth the First's visits to the Mansion in 1561 and 1579.
The Devereux family, who owned the Mansion from 1642 –1732, created a number of gardens east and west of the house. In 1668 Charles II visited Christchurch and is thought to have played bowls in the Park.
Claude Fonnereau purchased the Mansion and the estate in 1735 and the Fonnereau family lived in the Mansion until 1892 when it was sold to Felix Thornley Cobbold. On 23 February 1895, Cobbold presented the Mansion to the people of Ipswich.
For more on the history of the Mansion, click on the Park History webpage and the associated Timeline.
This beautiful building is now Grade I Listed and is used as a Museum and Art Gallery. The Wolsey Gallery was added to the rear of the Mansion in 1931 as a memorial to Cardinal Wolsey on the 400th anniversary of his death. It houses the largest collection of paintings by Gainsborough and Constable outside London, along with the works of many other artists inspired by the beautiful landscapes of East Anglia.
The Mansion welcomes visitors six days a week (Tuesday to Sunday) from 10am until 5pm. It is closed on all Mondays (including Bank Holidays), the 24th to 26th and 31st December, and 1st January. Except for occasional special exhibitions or events, there is no charge to visit the Mansion.
Christchurch Mansion is available to hire for functions and events such as Weddings, Naming Ceremonies and Receptions. Further information is available via the ipswich.gov.uk website.
Telephone: 01473 433554 or go to our Links page for more contact details.