Display to show park's treasure

PEOPLE who visit Ipswich's Christchurch Park will be able to learn about the discovery of a medieval cemetery which holds the remains of up to 100 people just beneath the surface, it was revealed today.

PEOPLE who visit Ipswich's Christchurch Park will be able to learn about the discovery of a medieval cemetery which holds the remains of up to 100 people just beneath the surface, it was revealed today.

Park managers have revealed that the discovery of the remains about 30 centimetres below the lawn and path in front of Christchurch Mansion will be documented and put on display in a new interpretation centre.

The centre, which is under construction near the park's Bolton Lane entrance, will also house information about a series of other historically important finds unearthed in the park.

Among them are a haul of coins found following the draining of the round pond, including an Ipswich farthing from 1670 and a French coin from 1656.

Ipswich Borough Council wants to use the new centre to be used to educate classes of children about the park's history and to provide information about the wealth of stories from its past to people who visit.

The cemetery, discovered during the installation of a new drainage system, is believed to be at least 500 years old and is thought to once have formed part of the neighbouring St Margaret's Church graveyard.

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Today Paul Falcini, from Wessex Archaeology, told how the remains were carefully documented when they were uncovered by workers digging the new drain.

He said: “We were keeping a careful eye on the new trench and as soon as we found what we thought were graves we stopped the mechanical excavator.

“We excavated just enough to confirm that human remains were present and then we carefully covered over the graves.

“The graves lie close together at regular intervals so it seems that this is a cemetery, most likely part of St Margaret's. The grounds of the mansion were extended over part of the churchyard in the 16th Century.”

Sam Pollard, park manager for Christchurch Park, said: “Trying to build for the future and protect the past is a delicate balancing act.

“When we decided to put the new drain under the existing road to try and avoid damaging the lawns of the park, we knew there was a chance we would discover part of the cemetery. Now that we know the size of the cemetery, we can plan to protect it.”

Have you discovered something amazing? What do you think about this story? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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