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
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.)
This fine building with its arched windows stands half-way up the slope
of St George's Street, not far from the former Globe
Originally constructed as a chapel this 19th century,
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.)
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.
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
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
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
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.
Nine martyrs are commemorated on the
memorial in Christchurch Park.
The Chapel of St George
stood opposite the site of Salem Chapel. This
site is now occupied by housing.
See our Brook Street page for a 1902
map of the Dykes Street and chapel site area of St Georges Street.
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Historic Lettering site: Borin Van Loon
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