Christchurch Park in Ipswich and the historic town of Bury St Edmunds could soon be hailed as Great English Places

Erica Burrows, Alan Gilbert, Nicola Johnson and Fiona wright campaign to get Christchurch park and m

Erica Burrows, Alan Gilbert, Nicola Johnson and Fiona wright campaign to get Christchurch park and mansion voted greatest place in England.

Two of Suffolk’s largest and most historic towns are going head to head in a battle to be named one of England’s Great Places by a national body.

The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) is running the competition to find 10 locations that will be crowned “England’s Great Places” at a special event later this year.

Both Bury St Edmunds and Christchurch Park have been nominated and both will be visited by a team of judges from the RTPI during September. The final decision will be up to a public vote later in that month.

A group of supporters gathered at Christchurch Park to press the case for it to win – the entry says it is the best-loved urban green space in East Anglia.

The entry mentions the park’s avenues of ancient trees, stunning vistas, an orchard, and thriving wildlife areas. It also mentions its recreational activities and its role as host of some of the town’s best-loved events.

Christchurch Mansion at the centre of the park could be its secret weapon, especially as its Wolsey Art Gallery currently houses the nation’s biggest collection of Constables as part of the year-long Aspire exhibition run by Tate, Art Fund and HLF and its partners. So far this year, 20,000 people have visited the exhibition.

Nicola Johnson, chair of the Friends of Christchurch Park, said: “It is the place to be … the place to go. It has been since monks lived here 1,000 years ago.

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“Queen Elizabeth I visited it in the middle of her long reign, Charles II played bowls here and it became a public park in 1895. Now its most famous resident is Mabel, the telegenic owl.”

Erica Burrows, Chair of the Friends of Ipswich Museums, added: “Christchurch is a park that has been used by generations of Ipswich people.

“As far back as 1724, Daniel Defoe remarked that ‘the inhabitants of Ipswich were allowed to divert themselves there with walking, bowling etc’.

“People are still diverting themselves in this beautiful place and visiting the Mansion, which has a display depicting 500 years of history and houses a world-class art collection.”

Meanwhile Bury St Edmunds has also entered competition, saying that the town should be included in the list of England’s Great Places with its cathedral and Abbey Gardens.