Ipswich Icons - the history of the grand Oaklands, Broadwater, Orwell Lodge and Stoke House


Oaklands - Credit: Archant

Last week’s article was about Oak Hill, the outstanding property just off Belstead Road on Oak Hill Lane, built in 1860 on a plot of land sold by Peter Burrell of Stoke Park, recaps John Norman, of the Ipswich Society.

Lodge to Orwell Lodge

Lodge to Orwell Lodge - Credit: Archant

Burrell had just spent a considerable sum rebuilding Stoke Park to a layout and style that met his new wife’s criteria. Burrell sold other plots along Belstead Road, including land on which some very large houses were built. They were, travelling south along Belstead Road; Oaklands, Broadwater, Orwell Lodge and Stoke House. Selling these plots ensured Burrell’s assets remained healthy.


Immediately beyond Oak Hill Lane is Oaklands, designed by Ipswich architect J S Corder, built in 1870 and now converted to flats. It is a grey, dull building with two noteable entrance porches, one to the street with twin stone pillars and a much grander example facing the garden to the north of the property.

The next three properties, Broadwater, Orwell Lodge and Stoke House, have all been demolished, the resulting space a site for the Gorsehayes / Heatherhayes development which commenced about 1970.


Broadwater was built in 1877 for George Calver Mason to a design by George Gilbert Scott Jnr who also designed Norwich’s Catholic Cathedral. Mason was a miller and oil merchant (the oil was from the crushed seeds of oil seed rape, linseed and flax). He was also churchwarden (with responsibility for the fabric) at St Peter’s in College Street. During his time at St Peter’s the church tower was extensively rebuilt using architect George Gilbert Scott who unsurprisingly was commissioned by Mason to design his new house (Broadwater) which was built by Bennett’s for £2,183.

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The house was used during the First World War as a military hospital run by the Red Cross and then used again, for a similar purpose, during the Second World War. It had been so badly knocked about that it was demolished in 1953.

Orwell Lodge

Orwell Lodge was built for Robert Charles Ransome, grandson of Robert Ransome, founder of the engineering firm of the same name. Robert Charles was born in 1830, entered the business as an engineering apprentice at 16 and at 27 became a partner (with responsibility for overseas trade).

Although a direct descendant of the founder, he was the eldest son of Robert Ransome’s second son (also Robert) the line of succession passed to James Allen Ransome. In the 1860s the health of his uncle (James Allen) deteriorated and Robert Charles took over the running of the business becoming chairman in 1884.

With his new found role he had Orwell Lodge built in Belstead Road (prior to this he had lived in Carr Street), he became Mayor of Ipswich in 1867 and was the first chairman of the new School Board in 1871, established to bring schools under local government control.

Robert Charles Ransome was never a well man and he died at home in Orwell Lodge in 1886. A year or two later his wife Elizabeth died and Orwell Lodge was sold to William Francis Paul, brother of Robert, hence R & W Paul. William had some major alterations carried out including a tower (erected in 1895) by Ipswich architects Eade & Johns. The same firm was working at about the same time for William Pretty, making alterations to Goldrood (now St Joseph’s College).

The lodge to Orwell Lodge still stands and is today 97 Belstead Road.

Stoke House

The fourth of the big houses fronting Belstead Road was Stoke House, not to be confused with Stoke Hall, next to St Mary’s Church or with Stoke Park, the home of Peter Burrell. Stoke House was built for James Fison who had started a fertilizer manufacturing business in Thetford in 1808 but had moved production to Ipswich to work with Edward Packard. Packard lived across the road in Birkfield Lodge (1860 -1899) and their firms formally amalgamated in 1919.

Architects Barnes & Bisshopp carried out major alterations to Stoke House in 1875 and in 1897, following Fison’s death the property was sold to a Mrs N Cobbold. Like the others this large house was converted into flats (1955) and then demolished (1975).

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