Thursday, 26 September 2019

St Mary at the Elms, Ipswich

Another very old Ipswich church, more Anglo-Catholic than many others in Suffolk, it was  open both for the Heritage Open Day and because it was Church Cycle Ride day. It's just a little way out from the town centre and feels so welcoming inside. 

The tower is made from Tudor red bricks brought from the Netherlands and thought to be originally for Cardinal Wolseys College, which was never built.
The Norman porch has three niches containing recent sculptures by Charles Gurrey. A  triptych with Christ flanked the Blessed Virgin and St John.

 A closer view with a photo from the Suffolk Churches website

Christ with the Blessed Virgin and St John

 In the C12 there were 39 churches in Ipswich which was a prosperous port at that time, among the 39 was St Mary's Chapel which had a carved figure of Our Lady of Grace or Our Lady of Ipswich, visited by the great and good of the time but in September 1538, during the Reformation the figure was taken to London to be burnt. The story says that it was saved by Catholic sailors and taken to the Italian town of Nettuno and experts have said that the old wooden statue at Nettuno know as "Our Lady of The Grace" is the one from Ipswich.
In the church now is a new oak replica, carved by  local man Robert Mellamphy and  placed here in 2002 and it is this that get the church it's mention in the 100 treasures book.

The Stations of the Cross are also carved wood

Across the churchyard is St Mary's Cottage dating from 1467 and thought to be the oldest occupied house in Ipswich.

Back Tomorrow


  1. It looks really friendly, both outside and in.

  2. The name Charles Gurrey seemed familiar...he's the sculptor who did the WE-ALSO-SERVED piece at Bletchley Park. I have a picture of myself standing next to it, holding a photo of my Mum. That triptych on the church is a good piece of work, fitting well into the ancient building. The story of the wooden statue is lovely too. Thanks for another fascinating post x

  3. One of my favourite church's in Norwich is red brick and flint. I have pictured it a few times on the blog. St Augustines. It is not so smart as your one inside but it does have some 15th century cottages next to it which are still occupied.

  4. That is a beautiful church and I love the carvings. It is always amazing to me to see houses as old as St Mary's Cottage. You just don't see buildings built much earlier than the 1600s here except for some of the Pueblos in the Southwest.

  5. Deceiving church - I expected the inside to look different to what it does - it seems very grand inside. Love the little old cottage.

  6. Gorgeous old cottage, and the church is very beautiful.

  7. As a worshipper at St Marys I can vouch for the friendliness and welcoming nature of the Congregation. The Church has almost in the walls the sense of being loved over the centuries. The business of life is taken away as you enter.

  8. Blogger Sue - At the Elms we loved your blog. Would you mind if we printed it our just for the noticeboard inside our church for the benefit of those who aren't on line?
    Felicity - PCC member