Christchurch Mansion and the silver age

Christchurch Mansion in Christchurch Park

GLOSSY PICTURE ANDY ABBOTT 7.4.11 Christchurch Mansion in Christchurch Park

Where better to celebrate a wedding or anniversary than in the splendour of Christchurch Mansion. Lynne was there at the weekend.

Ten years ago I celebrated my silver wedding at Christchurch Mansion... with my husband, of course.

It is a stunning venue for a memorable day and, last Saturday I was there again, this time to witness a renewal of vows, also for a 25th wedding anniversary.

Held in the Tudor Room, across the hall from the entrance, it was a lovely occasion and the “groom + 25” made mention of a considerably old painted panel at the back of the room titled Uxor Fidelis (The Faithful Wife) which highlights a wife’s duty and loyalty to her husband. He pointed out there was no companion piece The Faithful Husband.

The mansion is, of course, one of the jewels in Ipswich’s crown and it is good to know that (on presentation of the correct fee) people can hire the premises for their own celebrations.

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At my silver wedding, we managed to squeeze in 100 guests and the buffet was served in the actual Tudor kitchen of the mansion. It was as if my childhood imagination had come to life.

Is there something top secret happening in Tuddenham Avenue? It has been closed to traffic for a few weeks now and, as I have no reason to travel the street, I’m not sure what’s going on. But I am intrigued.

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Meanwhile, I am impressed to see that the easterly side of Gainsborough Road is now completely resurfaced. When the road crew arrived, a while back, they found two cars still parked there and worked around them, leaving an oblong of un-resurfaced street. I assumed it would be left that way, but no. They came back and did it. Respect.

Ray Marshall left me a phone message after the question was posed as to whether the Stoke Bathing Place was ever designated a lido. He says the idea made him and a colleague chuckle.

“It was a really ramshackle affair,” he says. “There was a free section for people from Stoke and the other area, where we used to go.”

Mr Marshall was last there in 1946, by which time, he says it was “pretty bad”.

So no, never a lido, just a cordoned off area for swimming, it seems.

As a long-time member of Ipswich Swimming Club, Ray is an absolute mine of information about swimming in Ipswich. He recalls when there were six pools in Ipswich: indoors at Fore Street and St Matthews, the lidos at Piper’s Vale and Broomhill and the river pools at Stoke and West End.

He has some great swimming stories too. There was the post-War Christmas Day swim at Stoke which was officiated by Alec Moffatt, who had been an Olympic official. Ray, just out of the army and back home from India, took part.

“I have never been so cold in my life. I swam like hell. When I got out, he (Mr Moffatt) put his hand on my head and said: ‘Marshall, you’re disqualified. You swam over Mrs Alexander.’”

Ray says he recalls noticing a small bump as he swam.

Mrs Alexander was fine, by the way.

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