The Shotley Peninsular

It was a fine day to explore the Shotley Peninsular,starting just under the Orwell Bridge on the A12 east of Ipswich.

The Orwell Bridge on the A12

The Orwell Bridge on the A12

We set off across typical gently undulating Suffolk countryside for Alton Water, a large reservoir fed by the River Gipping. A circuit of the reservoir is 8.2 miles and lots of people were walking or cycling. We strolled for 3/4 hour along the banks of the reservoir, returning over the top of the hill to the car park at Birchwood.

Alter Water Park

Alton Water Park

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The path alongside the reservoir

Ancient oak trees and corn ready for harvesting

Ancient oak trees and corn ready for harvesting

Across the water is Tattingstone Place, a listed building of c.1764. (Engraving of 1893.)

Tattingstone Place, 1893

Tattingstone Place, 1893

Tattingstone Manor

Tattingstone Place

Next came the Royal Hospital School Holbrook, in a magnificent setting overlooking the River Stour. The school originated in the Royal Hospital School Greenwich, south east London, to educate ‘..boys from seafaring backgrounds..’ in arithmetic and navigation. The school flourished, becoming overscribed, and moved to Holbrook in 1933. The naval connections are strongly continued to the present day.

Holbrook School

Holbrook School

The cricket ground, overlooking the River Orwell

The cricket ground, overlooking the River Orwell

Model ship's prow at the end of the Parade Ground

Model ship’s prow at the end of the Parade Ground

Hood accommodation block

Hood accommodation block

Grand buildings

Grand buildings

Driving along the ‘coast’ road there are glimpses of the river, and in Ewarton stop and look at the church, St Mary, a 15th century church dedicated to the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin, apparently the only such dedication in Suffolk.

St Mary Church, Ewarton

St Mary Church, Erwarton

The graveyard of St Mary Church overlooking the River Stour

The graveyard of St Mary Church overlooking the River Stour

There are some remarkable tombs in the church: Sir Bartholomew Bacon (d.1392) and his wife, Joan of Heveningham (d.1445). Sir Bartholomew was from  Here is a fascinating history of the family connection with Erwarton. Interestingly, when Sir Bartholomew died the inheritance passed to his sister, Isabel, who married into the Calthorpe family who continued to inherit the estate until the death of Sir Philip Calthorpe in 1549.

Sir Bartholomew Bacon

( Sir Bartholomew Bacon

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Joan of Heveningham

Sir Philip Calthorpe married Jane, a daughter of Sir William Boleyn of Norfolk, who was the grandfather of  the Anne Boleyn who became Henry VIII’s Queen. Jane was her Aunt and Anne apparently visited often.

This is relevant as there is a reproduction of the Holbein drawing of Anne Boleyn in the church, and a notice saying that her heart was buried in a crypt beneath the organ.

Is this True? Who knows?!

Sir Philip’s daughter, Elizabeth inherited and married into the Parker family. It was her son, Sir Philip Parker, who built Erwarton Hall.

Memorial to Sir Philip Parker

Memorial to Sir Philip Parker

Erwarton Hall

Erwarton Hall

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The Gatehouse to Erwarton Hall

From Erwarton the road led to Shotley Gate, on the tip of the peninsular, opposite Felixstowe and Harwich, both significant ports. Shotley Gate has its own small marina, filled with very expensive-looking craft!

Looking from the Marina towards Felixstowe

Looking from the Marina towards Felixstowe

HMS Gangesa training establishment for the Royal Navy, started building in 1904 in Shotley Gate. Prior to this training was carried out on the ships themselves.

From L-R: HMS Minataur, HMS Caroline, and unknown, c.1906

From L-R: HMS Minotaur, HMS Caroline, and unknown, c.1906

The same pier today, and a well-placed pub!

The same pier today, and a well-placed pub!

In 1907 the famous mast (44 m high) from the steamship HMS Cordelia was erected. The establishment had a long and distinguished history, both as naval base and training establishment and there are many interesting stories on the internet, including on this site. The base was finally closed in 1976, and has fallen in disrepair, although on our visit the planning permission pinned to the gate indicated development is imminent.

HMS Ganges today

HMS Ganges today

The story of HMS Ganges continues up the hill, at the Church of St Mary. The parish graveyard is alongside the church, but open the church gate and walk down the hill and there is quite another sight.

In memory of 'Boys' from HMS Ganges killed in WWI

In memory of ‘Boys’ from HMS Ganges killed in WWI

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German soldiers

The memorial to submariners

The memorial to submariners

and behind the parish churchyard –

The formal War Graves site at Shotley

The formal War Graves site at Shotley

Back on the A1456 we turned off for Pin Mill which had WWII connections and is now a tourist ‘hot spot’ – don’t visit in the middle of summer! Access is via a single-track lane, with an occasional passing place. At the river you are rewarded with a pub, the Butt and Oyster, which has smuggling connections – of course!

Pin Mill's Butt and Oyster Pub

Pin Mill’s Butt and Oyster Pub

Back on the A1456 Woolverstone Hall was the next landmark. It was built in 1776 for William Berners, a banker in London, by John Johnson, and it Grade I listed, one of the finest examples of Palladian architecture in England. (Interesting background here.) From 1950-1990 it was a school controlled from London County Council; since 1992 it has been the Ipswich High School.

Woolverstone Hall

Woolverstone Hall

And so back to the Orwell Bridge and the start of the drive.

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