Salem Chapel

A few yards down from Henslow Terrace (1 Henley Road) is a house with the 'St Georges Street' nameplate and
a central rectangular frame in the cement render which suggests that this might have once been a tavern. It is customary in street nameplates for the possessive apostophe to be dropped – perhaps it was difficult to include such punctuation in cast iron signs; this sign boasts not one but two superior 'T's, one for 'Saint' and one for 'Street'. (Note the modern street nameplate further up Henley Road for 'St Edmund's Road' – one of the few such apostrophes.)
Ipswich Historic Lettering: St Georges St sign 1   Ipswich Historic Lettering: St Georges St sign 22014 images  
This fine building with its arched windows stands half-way up the slope of St George's Street, not far from the former Globe public house.

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Salem 1
Originally constructed as a chapel this 19th century, two-storey, redbrick building later became a storage area for the Ipswich Museum and Art Gallery (which it backs on to) and is now the New Wolsey Studio, a performing arts venue and offshoot of the town’s New Wolsey Theatre. The original baptism pool survives below the present day flooring and stage. The chapel was opened in 11 June 1812. It was built at the sole expense of Mr Joseph Chamberlain for 1,200 and he conveyed it to trustees, for the use of Particular Baptists. At 45 by 35 feet, the Salem Chapel was intended to accomodate four hundred people. (To the left of the photograph below is the dated Ipswich Museum extension.)
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Salem 2
'SALEM
CHAPEL'
'ERECTED
1812.'
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Salem 3

Chapel of St George
One footnote about this street concerns martyrdom. Protestant martyrdoms associated with Ipswich begin with Thomas Bilney. He denounced saint and relic veneration, together with pilgrimages to Walsingham and Canterbury, and refused to accept the mediation of the saints. The diocesan authorities raised no objection for, despite his reforming views in these directions, he was to the last perfectly orthodox on the power of the Pope, the sacrifice of the Mass, the doctrine of transubstantiation and the authority of the church. Cardinal Wolsey took a different view. In 1526 he appears to have summoned Bilney before him. On his taking an oath that he did not hold and would not disseminate the doctrines of Martin Luther, Bilney was dismissed.

But in the following year serious objection was taken to a series of sermons preached by him in and near London.
Bilney was plucked from the pulpit of the Church (or Chapel) of St George in St Georges Street, Ipswich as he preached in favour of the Reformation in 1527, arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London. He had previously preached in the nearby St Margaret Church. This was during a preaching-tour undertaken with the Norfolk mass-priest Master Lambert. Arraigned before Wolsey, William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury, and several bishops in the chapter-house at Westminster Abbey, he was convicted of heresy, sentence being deferred while efforts were made to induce him to recant, which eventually he did.

After being forced to recant he was imprisoned in the Tower of London for a year, and then returned to Trinity Hall, Cambridge for two years in great torment of conscience. In 1531 he went to Norwich and declared his convictions, and was there burnt at the stake.

The Chapel of St George stood opposite the site of Salem Chapel. This site is now occupied by housing.

Nine martyrs are commemorated on the memorial in Christchurch Park.




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