Gippeswyk Hall, (Red Rose Chain) The Avenue Theatre IP2 9AF
Following the dissolution of the monasteries in 1536, the pastures of St Peter’s Priory were divided into six farms and sold to wealthy Ipswich merchants. At this time there was very little habitation south of the river other than a small community close to Stoke Bridge. Beyond Stoke, only rolling hills and areas of rough grazing.
The farmland surrounding what became Gippeswyk Park was largely inaccessible. In the late 1500s the land had been owned by Edward Sulyard who also owned the hillsides around St Mary Stoke Church. In 1576 Sulyard sold the Gippeswyk land to John Knapp and in about 1600 Gippeswyk Hall was built. Members of the Knapp family are buried in St Peter’s church where there is a distinctive gravestone with lattens (brass inserts).
The Hall is Tudor but is slightly unusual in that it faces east. On an open plot like this it would have been typical to orientate the property with a southerly aspect. The anomaly is probably due to the rising ground immediately south of the property.
The front has a three-storey porch with stone dressings to the windows over a four-centred arch above the door, all typically Elizabethan, albeit on a smaller property than, for example, Christchurch Mansion. The Hall has been truncated and extended over the centuries but retains the style of a Tudor building.
When Gippeswyk Hall was no longer required as a farmhouse there was a succession of owners including the Welham, Boyd and Skeet families and towards the end of the 19th Century Sir Alfred Garrod MD, a distinguished physician (1819 – 1907). Garrod started his career at Ipswich Hospital, moved to London in 1843, he was knighted in 1887 and in 1890 appointed physician-extraordinary to Queen Victoria.
In the 20th Century Gippeswyk Hall had a number of commercial uses but is now home to the Red Rose Chain, an independent theatre company.
[Source: John Norman, The Ipswich Society]