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Setback for Christchurch Mansion in Ipswich as visitor numbers fall by nearly a third

PUBLISHED: 12:36 26 June 2017 | UPDATED: 13:44 26 June 2017

Christchurch Mansion will host the angels exhibition. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

Christchurch Mansion will host the angels exhibition. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

Visitor numbers at Christchurch Mansion in Ipswich have plummeted by almost a third in the last year, latest figures have revealed.

Children from St Helens Primary School dressed as Tudors for the day were among a number of schools to visit the mansion. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNChildren from St Helens Primary School dressed as Tudors for the day were among a number of schools to visit the mansion. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Figures published for the Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service joint committee revealed that for the 2016/17 financial year there were 40,600 visitors – more than 18,000 visitors down on the 58,750 in 2015/16.

The figure also fell well short of the target of 57,500 visitors for the most recent 12 months.

The lower than expected visitor numbers means that the mansion’s total income took a hit, falling short by around £5,500.

While school and retail income were up on projected figures, income from activities and hiring were significantly down.

Renovation work at Christchurch mansion is believed to have been one of the reasons for the fall in visitors. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNRenovation work at Christchurch mansion is believed to have been one of the reasons for the fall in visitors. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The report prepared for Tuesday’s committee meeting said that renovation work, which included large sections of scaffolding outside the front of the mansion, may have given the impression the mansion was closed or put people off paying a visit.

The report added: “A number of factors have uniquely impacted on overall attendances including the major capital works that inevitably restricted public access.

“The impact of national curriculum changes has resulted in a strategic challenge to re-engage schools with the site’s unique collection and history.”

Ipswich Museum and Art Gallery reported healthier figures though, with 51,782 visitors representing 99% of its target, and a slight increase on 2015/16’s 49,603 visitors. Sunday openings for the museum have also helped contribute to the upturn.

Ipswich Museum is holding another takeover event. Picture: SU ANDERSONIpswich Museum is holding another takeover event. Picture: SU ANDERSON

Better than expected income from schools, activities, hiring and retail meant it achieved 157% of its target income.

An Ipswich Borough Council spokesman said: “We are pleased with the attendances at the Museum and Art Gallery and that more schools are visiting High Street.

“The Mansion figures reflect both the restoration works that took place last year and the inevitable drop in visitors after the huge success of the Aspire Constable programme.”

To combat the mansion’s declining numbers, events such as the recent gin and beer festivals have been held while in October a special Thomas Wolsey exhibition showcasing four historic bronze angels designed for the noted cardinal.

What would you like to see at the mansion that would make you visit? Share your thoughts below or email us here.

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