St Mary le Tower - Ipswich, Suffolk
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member SMacB
N 52° 03.493 E 001° 09.299
31U E 373508 N 5769120
Quick Description: Although medieval, the church mostly dates from 1860-1870, when it was rebuilt by Richard Phipson. Funded by George Bacon, banker and philanthropist. St Mary Le Tower is mentioned in the Domesday book saying the site has been occupied since 1086.
Location: Eastern England, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 2/10/2015 10:08:08 AM
Waymark Code: WMNC1M
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Marine Biologist
Views: 0

Long Description:
"There were six town centre churches dedicated to St Mary in the Middle Ages; four survive, picturesquely differentiated as St Mary le Tower ('the Tower'), St Mary at Elms ('the Elms'), St Mary at Quay and St Mary at Stoke.

There was a church here in 1200, when the Borough of Ipswich was declared in the churchyard by the granting of a charter. When the Diocese of Norwich restored it in the mid-nineteenth century, they decided on a complete rebuild in stone on the same site. The Diocesan Architect R.M. Phipson was chosen for the job, and the old church was effectively demolished in the 1860s, and a new one built in its place. The old foundations were used, with an extension towards Northgate Street, which is why the northern part of the churchyard is so severely cut off.

There never was a north door, and the west door is beautiful but rather useless, since it is below street level and the path merely leads round to the south. The only parts of the medieval church retained were a doorway, the nave arcades, and a few fixtures and fittings. From the outside it is virtually all Phipson's work, all of a piece, and quite magnificent. The flushwork is exuberant; being a flint-knapper must have been a good living in the 1860s.

The entrance is in the style of the area's south-west tower porches, although on a much grander scale. The actual entrance arch seems to have been retained, as it appears to be the same in the photograph of the 1850s , albeit with the tablets now removed. If so, then it is 15th century. There is a fine 19th century Madonna and child in the niche above by Richard Pfeiffer, full of Victorian Anglo-catholic sentiment. Away to the east, the same sculptor produced St John the Evangelist and St Mary of Magdala on the end of the chancel.

The spire is about 60m tall. The chequerboard pattern of the lower tower is rather alarming in comparison with the subtlety of some Suffolk churches, but must have been the very thing in the late 19th century (see the same at Butterfield's south porch of St Mary at Stoke), or at least until the confection of St Lawrence across the road was finished 20 years later. The spire is heartier than Phipson's other more feminine Suffolk spires at Great Finborough and Woolpit,.

The porch inside is grand, stone and marble rising to a painted wooden ceilure. St Peter and St Paul, in the windows either side, look on. A little door to the north-east leads up to the belfry, with a ring of thirteen bells. Their renewal was completed in 1999; I am told that it is actually a ring of twelve, and the thirteenth is a sharp 2nd for use when fewer than twelve are rung. The doorway into the church has been given lovely stops representing the Annunciation, with the angel to the west, and Mary at her prayer desk to the east. As part of the Millenium project, all of this has been guilded, and it is all absolutely gorgeous."

SOURCE - (visit link)
Date the Church was built, dedicated or cornerstone laid: 1/1/1860

Age of Church building determined by?: Other reliable source

Street address of Church:
St Mary le Tower
Tower Street
Ipswich, Suffolk England
IP1 3BE


Primary website for Church or Historic Church Building: [Web Link]

If denomination of Church is not part of the name, please provide it here: Not listed

If Church is open to the public, please indicate hours: Not listed

If Church holds a weekly worship service and "all are welcome", please give the day of the week: Not listed

Indicate the time that the primary worship service is held. List only one: Not Listed

Secondary Website for Church or Historic Church Building: Not listed

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