Gallery: Holywells Park restoration in Ipswich takes major step forward as orangery is unveiled

PUBLISHED: 09:00 31 December 2014

James Mellish (left) Project Manager of the Orangery restoration in Holywells Park with Chairman of Friends of Holywells Park Robin Gape outside the Orangery.

James Mellish (left) Project Manager of the Orangery restoration in Holywells Park with Chairman of Friends of Holywells Park Robin Gape outside the Orangery.


Work on £3.5 million restoration of Ipswich's historic Holywells Park has taken a significant step forward with the unveiling of the orangery that is being returned to its former glory.

The park orangery was part of Holywells Mansion which was demolished in the 1960s – and it is being brought back into use alongside the former stable block which is being converted into a visitor centre for the park.

The restoration is largely being funded by a £2.8 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and is due to be completed during 2015.

The orangery has been covered in corrugated iron for many years, but this has now been removed as restoration work continues – although it has not yet been handed back to the park authorities by the contractors.

Ipswich council wanted to regenerate one of the town’s hidden gems and conserve and enhance the park’s unique heritage as well as provide more attractions for visitors.

Holywells Park facts:

Holywells Park opened to the public in 1936.

• The former mansion was demolished but a Grade II listed Orangery from the late 19th Century still exists.

• The park was originally part the Manor of Wykes Bishop, held by the Bishops of Norwich from the 13th Century.

• During the reign of Henry VIII, the manor was surrendered to the Crown and then granted to Sir John Jermy.

• The title of Lord of the Manor was acquired by John Cobbold in 1812.

• During the 18th Century, a succession of brewers worked in the park and used the waters to make beer.

• The Cobbold family had owned land at Holywells from 1689.

• Holywells Hall was built in the 19th Century on the site of an old farmhouse.

• The buildings which are being restored belonged to Holywells Hall which was built in the 67-acre park in the 19th Century.

• The man-made ponds in Holywells Park were painted by Thomas Gainsborough.

• Holywells Park has an active “Friends” group which contributes to the park’s development.

The HLF grant has been supplemented by funding from the Friends of Holywells Park and the council itself.

Among the improvements made possible by the grant are:

The visitor centre which is due to open in the spring,

The restoration of the orangery which will become an exhibition space linked to the visitor centre.

An open-air theatre space,

Better access and new toilets.

The stable block visitor centre will include a reception, café and education and function space.

The orangery will be used for exhibitions, talks, meetings, and functions.

The existing walled garden will be upgraded with a performance area that will be used for small scale theatre, dance, school and community groups.

A new toilet facility and kiosk will be provided adjacent to the play area. This will assist parents with young children that currently have to take them up to the Stable Block toilets.

Security at the park will be improved with the installation of CCTV cameras, and there will also be new seats and panels telling visitors about the history and the nature to be found in the park.

Bryony Rudkin, leisure portfolio-holder, said: “This fantastic project will open up the park to people from all over the town and county.

“Holywells has always been a hidden gem but with first-rate visitor facilities, better toilets, an outdoor theatre space and, of course, the restored orangery, it will become a visitor attraction in its own right.”

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