Meeting Mabel in Christchurch Park, Ipswich, Suffolk


Mabel in her oak tree, Christchurch Park, Ipswich

Ipswich, Suffolk, England

Mabel is a tawny owl who lives in an oak tree at Christchurch Park. We ‘met’ her when we took a short break from all the running around you inevitably do when you’re visiting family and friends.

Ipswich is the county town of Suffolk, England, where Clive’s father still lives in the house where Clive was born. On a quiet weekday afternoon, we took a walk with Clive’s cousin and his wife in Christchurch Park in the centre of town.


Drinking fountain, Christchurch Park, Ipswich

Christchurch Park is in the Domesday Book (1086). Today it’s about 70 acres of lawns, footpaths, historic trees, and memorials. The park is on the English register of historic parks and gardens of special interest.

We were fascinated by a series of interconnected ponds which once formed a medieval water system; several are more than 900 years old. Today you see and hear ducks, geese, moorhen, and songbirds circling around.


Round Pond, Christchurch Park, Ipswich

Christchurch Park has a variety of habitats and impressive sweet chestnut trees, some 300-400 years old. We collected a couple more conkers for our collection.

Sweet chestnut trees, Christchurch Park, Ipswich

Numerous events take place here during the year, including the start of the annual Ipswich to Felixstowe Car Rally (in which Clive’s father, at age 89, completed his 30th consecutive year this past May).

Pre-rally gathering place, Christchurch Park, Ipswich

The park also has several buildings, including a new Visitor Centre and Christchurch Mansion, a gem which will be the subject of my next post.

As for Mabel, I’m not too familiar with owls so it was a treat when a man walking his dog pointed her out to us. Apparently she is a long-time resident of the park and somewhat of a local celebrity. She didn’t do much other than look at us with a wise expression, which I guess is what owls do.

You never know what you’ll see when you go for a walk. If you’re ever around Ipswich in Suffolk and want a lovely break, this is a wonderful place to walk, collect your thoughts, and maybe even exchange knowing looks with Mabel the tawny owl.

9 Responses

  1. how absolutely fantastic to meet Mabel!!! It looks like the perfect spot for a wise old owl!

  2. I visited an owl sanctuary in England once. Fascinating birds. BTW, I won’t be in Paris until the 17th now. Hope we don’t miss meeting you.

  3. Bonjour Carolyn & Clive,

    This is a heavenly spot 🙂 I enjoyed having a peek at Mabel.
    It all sounds so great and lucky you having this spot near your FIL’s home.
    Only one word needed : Enjoy !

    Wishing you more happiness over in UK and in your next destinations.

  4. Wonderful that the fellow pointed out Mabel for you — I woud have surely missed him, had I been on my own. That’s really interesting about the park’s being so old. Great!

  5. How amazing, and what a wonderful park, well worth a visit. How great that Clive’s dad has been able to complete 30 years of the rally..:-)

    Yes you would of missed Mabel for sure, blends into the tree 🙂 Take care Anne

  6. I loved seeing Mabel. I’ve always had a thing for owls. My Aunt Wylly ( I’ve been writing about her on my blog) used to give me things with owls.

    Lovely park too and I mentioned the Domesday book in my blog today, but then you know that because you left such a nice comment.

    It’s funny we’ll both be stateside at the same time.

  7. Thanks, all!

    Sam, yes it’s a perfect spot – waaay up high in her tree and very well-camouflaged. Linda, they are fascinating (and hope to see you in December!).

    Barbara, thanks so much for your kind wishes and hope to see you again, too. Kim, we definitely would have missed Mabel had she not been pointed out to us.

    Anne, we just have to reconnect in Suffolk sometime (if not in Paris!) and Elizabeth, thanks and what a coincidence we both mentioned the Domesday book on the same day — amazing what living with a Brit will do to a person 🙂

  8. Loved this report! My family and I were t here last saturday but didn’t know about Mabel! A report of my visit is here if you’re interested.


  9. Chris, hi and thanks for your lovely comment! Your photos are great, too.

    I’m glad you enjoyed your day in Ipswich and look forward to reading your blog about Norfolk.


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