Days Gone By - Housing estate replaced former 'Gentleman's Residence'
PUBLISHED: 05:00 27 July 2018
Most of the western outskirts of Ipswich have been built on former agricultural land in the last century, writes David Kindred.
In 1911, the Castle Hill Estate was put up for auction. It included five cottages and agricultural buildings. The sale catalogue from Garrod Turner described it as “Gentleman’s Residence and 164 acres of fine arable and grass land in the parish of Whitton and St Matthews”. The area is mostly now taken by the Castle Hill and Crofts housing estates and surrounding developments.
In 1911 the house and land sold for around £5,000. Gareth Jones, the manager of what is now the Castle Hill Community Centre, told me: “The Castle Hill Community Centre was known as Castle Hill house. It had eight bedrooms. The staff included maids, nannies and butlers and there were wine cellars in the basement for over 100 bottles of wine. It was built in 1893.
“The building sits on part of the site of a large Roman Villa with Roman remains underneath what is now the top car park. The well for the house is now capped under the lawn. The site was featured in the television programme Time Team in 2004, when they explored the area that became The Crofts and Castle Hill developments of the 1950s.
“The former owners, John and Jane Orford, are buried in Whitton church yard. Castle Hill house was gifted to Suffolk County Council in 1947. Since then it has been many things, including a doctors surgery, youth club, council offices and a community centre. The land belonging to Castle Hill House used to go down to the River Gipping and all the way to Akenham. John Orford was the lord of the manor of Akenham.”
The original address for Castle Hill was Norwich Road, Ipswich. Highfield Approach is now close to where the drive to the house was.
In 1854 a patterned mosaic floor from a large Roman villa was lifted from the site and taken to Ipswich Museum and put on display.