Growing up, Holiday, staycation, Tales from an East Anglian childhood, travel, Wanderlust

Half-term Fun At Christchurch Mansion In Ipswich.


The first few days of half-term have been spent wandering down memory lane – at least for me.

Freya and I swapped Norfolk for neighbouring Suffolk and returned to my parents’ house in Ipswich.

Not only did they have a load of boxes for me to sort out from their loft, which last saw the light of day 20-odd years ago, but we also took a tour of some of my favourite childhood haunts.

First on the list was Christchurch Mansion, a museum and art gallery, often said to be the “jewel in the crown” of historic Ipswich.

The red-brick Tudor building, which is in the middle of the town, has been a favourite of mine since I was small, particularly the nursery rooms, which feature ornate dolls’ houses and all sorts of Victorian toys and games. I used to get very cross when we had to visit all the other rooms, as interesting as they are, before eventually working our way upstairs.


The mansion sits in a beautiful park, which was the site of the Holy Trinity Priory in the 12th century. Following Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries, the land was bought by Paul Withipoll, a London merchant. It was his son, Edmund, who started building the mansion in 1547.


It has had different owners who have added and changed bits over the years. In 1894 it was bought by a property syndicate and they sold parcels of land for housing. Thankfully in 1895 the mansion was presented to the town and it has been maintained as a museum since 1896.


I’m always impressed by the entrance hall.

What can you see?

Not only are there period rooms to explore and all sorts of artefacts to admire but Christchurch Mansion is also home to works by Suffolk artists including the “biggest collection of Thomas Gainsborough and John Constable paintings outside of London”.

Is it expensive to visit?

Here’s the thing, it’s still free to visit, which we found hard to believe (we made a donation instead). We spent a happy hour following Freya as she explored the rooms, aided by very friendly and informative guides. There is also a shop and a tea room.

See here for opening times and other info.

What was in the loft?

I found some of my own rather random artefacts in the loft. I wonder what is on those films?

Do you enjoy revisiting childhood haunts?


14 thoughts on “Half-term Fun At Christchurch Mansion In Ipswich.”

  1. Hi Tara, Christchurch Mansion sounds like a lovely place to visit, and even better that it’s free. A few years ago when we were back in Exeter I wanted to take the children to the Royal Albert Museum, a place that I loved as a child, but it was closed for restoration…. Another thing that takes me down memory lane and be warned this may sound pretty strange…. Is a certain smell of Greece in summer. It’s not a smell smelt all the time or all over. We spent many a summer holiday in Athens and the drains give off an aroma that has stayed with me. It reminds me of staying with the family. Of my Grandma sending dinner out to be cooked at the bakers. Of hot evening spent with my cousins. Of laughter and sometimes of boredom. Childhood memories.

    Are you going to get those films developed?



  2. Parent’s lofts are a wonderful thing. 😀
    I really should get to Ipswich, apart from last years marathon I haven’t been there for years. I love it when places are still free to visit, so nice that they are inclusive to all families, whatever their budget.


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