History of the Common

The History of Rushmere Common.

Some 4500 years ago the first Neolithic people moved into East Anglia, settled and cleared areas of the "wild wood" for agriculture. Where the trees had been growing on the acid sands the nutrient levels soon became depleted and the land was left for domestic and wild grazing. The grazing prevented the regeneration of tree cover and encouraged the growth of heathers and acid grasses. Many species, particularly invertebrates such as solitary wasps, parasitic bees and silver studded blue butterfly evolved to make use of this habitat of a tight grazed sward with areas of bare ground which quickly warm up on sunny days.
While wool and mutton were valuable crops and labour costs were low, heath land grazing was economic and continued. Other crops were taken from the heath, heather and bracken was cut for bedding and thatch, gorse and turf was taken for fuel, those trees that did survive the grazing were collected for construction materials and fire wood, sand and gravel were dug for construction. Sheep were often folded overnight on adjacent arable fields were their dung would improve the fertility of the soil. All these activities mirrored the effects of grazing, trees were prevented from regenerating and nutrients were continuously exported from the heath, creating conditions in which the heath land flora could thrive. Heath land products became so vital to the survival of village communities that the right to take from the heath became regulated and rigidly defined as Common Rights, a very complex branch of law.
When sheep grazing became uneconomic most other heath land management ceased and the only regular management would have been in the form of rabbit grazing and burning. Many of the village heaths have a history of annual gorse fires, with a block of gorse scrub being set on fire each bonfire night. This would create areas of acid grass and young gorse for small scale sheep and goat grazing and would prevent gorse becoming the dominant vegetation on a site. Old gorse stands are very easily set alight and this practice might also have reduced the risk of accidental summer fires.
It is probable that what is now Rushmere Heath existed as some form of common land as far back as the Middle Ages. We know that in 1763 and again in 1766 the common was used for public execution.
The common has been used by the Army on many occasions and as far back as 1804, Sir James Craig had 11,000 men under arms on the common.
The boundary of the common has been slowly eroded over the years, although the Commoners have often shown great courage and determination in resisting encroachment. For at least two hundred years, the ownership of the soil was claimed by one of the local Manors. The commoners resisted the claims of the Lord of the Manor, the Marquis of Bristol, and he tried to prosecute some of the Commoners. A prominent champion of the commoners' rights was a character named Nathanial Abblit. In 1861, he had a stone tablet erected on the outside of his cottage, setting out the rights of the Commoners. The tablet can still be seen today on the wall of the Baptist Chapel.
The first Commoners Committee was formed in 1881, mainly to resist the claims of the Marquis of Bristol.
In 1895, the first Ipswich Golf Club was formed and an agreement was made between the Commoners Committee and the Club. The Club agreed to pay £30.00 a year for the Commoners non-interference and co-operation. This agreement was terminated when the Club transferred to Purdis Heath, but shortly afterwards, in 1927, the Rushmere Golf Club was formed.
Although the ownership of the Common has been the subject of much debate over many years, in 1958 the title was purchased by Mr. Hugh Law, Chairman of the Commoners Committee, for £500.00. He then sold it to the Commoners for the same price. The title is held in trust by the Trustees and the conduct of the Commoners' affairs is regulated by the Trust Deed.
In 1967 the common was registered as a common under the Commons Registration Act. After that time, all commoners' rights not registered by individual commoners were lost.

•Course Description.
Golf has been played on Rushmere Heath since the late 1800s when it was the home of the Ipswich Golf Club. In 1927 when the majority of the members elected to move to nearby privately owned land, a public appeal and donations from founder members enabled Rushmere Golf Club to be formed.
The heath is a fine natural golf course situated just on the outskirts of Ipswich. Most holes are bounded by gorse and there are many fine old oak trees providing not only natural habitat for birds and other wildlife but demanding care and accuracy from many of the tees. The course is over 6200 yards and enjoys the space and hole by hole separation afforded by the expanse of the heath. Over 400 acres of Rushmere Heath is registered common land, administered by a committee and, in addition to the 15 holes rented from the commoners, the club privately owns 17 acres which constitute the 3rd, 4th and (part of the) 5th holes. (See attached map)
The clubhouse, formerly an old junior school building, was bought by the club in 1928 and has been extended over the years into the spacious and welcoming venue enjoyed by members and visitors today. Rushmere has earned the reputation of being a fiercely competitive members club with a very strong playing presence in its Men’s, Ladies, and Veteran sections. The nature of the course demands accuracy and good course management skills and this probably explains the high number of below 5 handicap members ever present at Rushmere Golf Club.
There is no finer golfing country anywhere and Rushmere provides a splendid test for tiger and rabbit alike. Above all the club is welcoming and offers a great golfing experience to visitors, societies or any player looking for a true golfing challenge.


Golf on the Common

Golf has been played on Rushmere Common since 1895 thanks to the early efforts of a few founders including lawn mower magnet, James Ransome and support from the nearby Felixstowe Ferry Golf Club. The course was designed by James Braid a golf architect of international repute. In 1927 the Ipswich Golf Club as it was then called moved to privately owned land at Purdis. Golf however continued on the heath with the formation of Rushmere Golf Club. This was aided by a gift of £70 form the Ipswich Golf Club to take up the remaining part of the old lease obligations. Shortly after the Club purchased the buildings of an old junior school standing next to the heath.Over the years these buildings have been redeveloped to create the fine clubhouse that overlooks the ninth green. In days of yore all the holes on the course had distinctive names some reflecting activities that took place on the heath in the past. ‘The Butts’, ‘Bixley Farm’, ‘The Windmill’, ‘The Hut’, to name a few. We have always had close ties with Ipswich Town Football Club. Sir Alf Ramsey, who managed Ipswich between 1955 and 1963 before leading England to success in the 1966 World Cup was a regular golfer at the Club. He is remembered as a quiet man who never drove a car and was happy to chat with members but not about football. 400 acres of Rushmere Heath is registered common land. To ensure continuity of playing on the heath a long lease has been negotiated with the Rushmere Commoners Trustees. The club works closely with the trustees to ensure that this wonderful open space can be mutually enjoyed by both golfers and people walking the heath. In 1953 the Club purchased a 17 acre field on which three new holes were constructed. The enhanced new layout of the course has certainly stood the test of time.

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Currently open
18.07.2022 05:56
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Course is open, please remember to repair pitchmarks, replace divots, rake bunkers and please keep up with the group in front. Please drink plenty of water and protect yourself from the sun. Thankyou