Treasures found in pond

A TREASURE trove of historical coins and medals has been unearthed from the sludge at the bottom of one of Ipswich's best-known ponds.Rare artefacts dating back to the 1600s have been found during a clean-up of the round pond in Christchurch Park.

A TREASURE trove of historical coins and medals has been unearthed from the sludge at the bottom of one of Ipswich's best-known ponds.

Rare artefacts dating back to the 1600s have been found during a clean-up of the round pond in Christchurch Park.

The discovery has caused a stir among Ipswich's history buffs who have been excited to hear that French and English coins dating back to as early as 1656 have been preserved in the mud.

Work is under way to clean the coins, medals, toys and trinkets and eventually they will be put on public display.

The items were hidden in the silt at the murky depths of the pond until a fortnight ago when a team of metal detecting enthusiasts went in search of the park's secrets.

They uncovered a collection of badly corroded and mud-coated objects but it wasn't initially clear just how old some were.

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Bob Entwistle, the senior collections care officer for Colchester and Ipswich Museums who is overseeing the restoration of the items at Ipswich Museum, said: “They are very highly corroded. Most of them date from the 20th Century or 19th Century however we have had some that are earlier.

“Some of them have been a surprise and have been older than we thought.”

The major surprises amongst the finds have been a French coin bearing the mark of Louis XIIII and dated at 1656.

There is also an Ipswich Farthing dating from 1670 and a French religious token bearing the names of St Hubert, the patron saint of the hunt, and St Roch, patron saint of dogs.

Also of interest is a George III coin dated 1771 and a medal dated June 26, 1902 commemorating the coronation of Edward VII and Queen Alexandra presented by then Ipswich mayor A.C. Churchman.

There is even an Egyptian style necklace which is thought to date back to the 1920s and an old Norfolk Regiment button.

It is thought the French coins could be linked to the Fonnereau family who bought the nearby Christchurch Mansion in 1635 and were of Huguenot decent.

Joe Davis, 15, a Stowmarket High School who has been helping to clean the coins, said: “Some of them are really interesting. I quite like the farthing because that's come out really well.”

Have you found something of historical value? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

FURTHER treasures could lie at the base of the round pond or in the two feet of silt removed from it during the restoration project, the man leading the metal detecting effort said today.

David Cummings, an experienced metal detecting enthusiast from Main Road, Kesgrave, said there were plans to scour the silt removed from the pond once it had dried out.

He said it was suspected that medieval coins and gold rings could be hidden in the silt as it is thought they would have been too light to sink to the bottom with the items recovered from within the base of the pond.

Mr Cummings, 58, said: “I think there's going to be a lot of finds in the silt.

“It's all very interesting and it really is good fun. But it's dirty work and you have to be careful because there's a lot of broken glass in there.”

Along with Mr Cummings, his sons David and Francis and family friend Debbie Cook are also assisting with the search.

Christchurch Park

The park has been open to the public since the 18th Century.

It is home to Christchurch Mansion, one of Ipswich's finest Tudor buildings.

The site where the mansion now sits was the site of the Augustinian Priory of the Holy Trinity founded in the 12th Century.

The round pond and wilderness pond are fed by natural springs and supplied the monks with carp, tench, roach and gudgeon.

In 1536, during Henry VIII's reign, the Priory was suppressed and its estates seized by the Crown.

Paul Withypoll, a successful London merchant, bought the site in 1545 and in 1548 his son Edmund began to build a house on the ruins of the Priory.

In 1635 the house was sold to Claude Fonnereau, a wealthy London merchant of Huguenot decent.

In 1892 the mansion was bought by Felix Thornley Cobbold who gave it to the people of Ipswich. It was opened as a museum in 1896.

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