St Clement Church doesn't appear at first to have much to offer the
does have historic texts connected to it. The church was declared redundant in the
early 1970s. Immediately outside the west door of the church is a stone
obelisk, apparently erected in 1996 after the refurbishments following
a disastrous fire which badly damaged the interior and the 1880s roof.
In 2016 the church in slow, steady
transformation into Ipswich Arts Centre.
page for the full text.
a look at our Street furniture
for an 1881 map which includes the church.
The church tower behind the above
obelisk features two of the
signature anchors of St Clement on one face. Among many traditions of St. Clement
there is a fascinating one. St. Clement was exiled to the Crimea and
was condemned to work in the marble quarries there (he is, amongst
other things the patron saint of stone-cutters). He was subsequently
martyred in AD98 by being thrown into the Black Sea with an anchor tied
round his neck. His friends were grieved that they could not recover
his body, so they begged God to tell them how it could be found. Their
prayers were answered, for the sea retired and when they followed the
receding waters they found his body enshrined in a beautiful temple
built by angelic hands. The anchor is now St. Clement’s symbol. He is
sometimes represented with a fountain near him, which is said to have
sprung up when he and his fellow workers were dying of thirst in a
desert place among the quarries where he was condemned to work.
These notes on the church,
initialled 'kw 2013' (presumably Keith Wade) give us more information
on the importance of St Clement.
The Sailor's Church
Courtesy Stephen Govier, Suffolk historian
above is from John Ogilby's map of
"St Clement's is one of our twelve surviving medieval churches (only
York and Norwich have more) and of the half of these that have been
declared redundant it is, sadly, the only one for which a use has not
been found*. It is therefore cared for by the Ipswich Historic Churches
Trust [see Links]. Although the church now
looks a little folorn it is still very
impressive – certainly from the outside and the interior perhaps
even more so. It is the only St Clement's in Suffolk§.
The main structure dates from the late 14th and early 15th centuries,
although the upper part of the tower is Tudor [1485-1603] and the
chancel was rebuilt in 1860 to the design of Frederick Barnes. It is
one of our three dockside churches and was long known as The Sailor's
Church; many interesting monuments attest to this association. The
circumnavigator Thomas Eldred and Thomas Slade the designer of Nelson's
'Victory' are the two most famous burials here.
The tower holds six bells by John Darbie of Ipswich and the clock has a
carillon (now in need of repair) from which every three hours during
the day, hymn tunes once rang out. This was a notable local feature and
was for many years celebrated by a nearby inn called 'The Musical
Two small monumental brasses, one missing a figure, are to be seen at
the east end of the nave and in the south aisle there are indications
that a third one has been lost.
The 15th century font depicts the four evangelists along with shields
and lions but at the base, strangely but not unusually, there are wild,
hairy men bearing clubs.
The carved and painted royal arms survive from 1661when Charles II of
England, Scotland &
Ireland was crowned in Westminster Abbey, for the second time; the arms
feature, unusually, images of Adam and Eve at the based. The
organ now welcomes parishioners in Selworthy, Somerset.
There are three good Victorian stained glass windows and a very
impressive east window of modern glass that commemorates those of the
parish who fell in the Second World War. Below it the fine reredos is a
reminder of that earlier conflict."
[*This sheet was handed out at an event in May 2014 at the church (when
the photographs, below, of the interior were taken) when the late Dr
Blatchly, Chair of the I.H.C.T., spoke eloquently and plans were laid
for conversion of the church into Ipswich Arts Centre, similar to those
churches in Norwich and Colchester.
§ Interestingly, there once was St Clement's Chapel in
Harkstead Parish, last recorded in a 16th century will. Its cemetery
was named as a boundary later in the same cetury. Its site is close to
the shore of the RIver Stour, on the south of the Shtloey peninsula.
The dedication to St Clement has Danish links and points to the
trans-North Sea connections established after the conquest by Cnut
(1016). (Information from Laverton, S. see Reading
± The St Clement font is tucked away in a corner, perhaps moved and possibly plastered over to
avoid the destructive attentions of puritans in the century following
the dissolution of the monasteries (1536-1541) and establishment of the
Church of England. The Earl of Manchester gave Parliamentary commander William Dowsing (1596–1668) the brief of
enforcing the August 1643 ordinance against religious images, seen as
idolatry, in the eastern counties during the English Civil War
(1642–1651). Dowsing conducted a campaign of iconoclastic reformation
on a scale that does not appear to have been undertaken anywhere else
in the country, including London. Over 250 churches in Cambridgeshire and
Suffolk were 'purged'. This is why so many Suffolk church fonts,
sculptures and figurines have their faces knocked off or obliterated.]
Inside the church
Looking towards the tower and
belfry, we find serpentine scrolls painted on the plaster on either
side of the carved, painted coat of arms with the legends:
Simon's Suffolk Churches (see
Links) tells us that: "The royal arms, which
fortunately survived the fire, are probably the best example of
Ipswich's familiar Charles II sets - these are different to the others
in that they are carved and gilded rather than being painted on boards
in you the Hope of
we have as an
Anchor of the Soul'
There are a number of
memorials in the church including several relating to the famous
Cobbold family of the Tolly Cobbold brewery.
A variety of memorials in a
group and a square tablet mounted diagonally (see also the tablet
dedicated to Rev. George Routh below):
St Clement, as well as being
known as 'The Sailor's Church', can also be thought of as 'The Cobbold
Church', as we shall see.
Glory of God
of His faithful Servant
this memorial is
placed by her children'
Looking towards the chancel,
there is further lettering high up and difficult to capture:
'GLORY to GOD in
Lyeth the Body
of Mary the Wife of
Late of this Parrish
This Stone never to
be Removed and to
Disanall the will of
ye Dead is not Good
the word 'Disanall' means 'disobey'; this amounts almost to the threat
of a curse on anyone who removes the stone. The double-'r' in 'Parrish' is somehow
Above: a disconnected radiator
(with scrolled decoration at the top) indicates that the church did
once have a heating system of sorts.
'In Memory of
THOMAS WARD Efqr:
late a Captain
in his Majeftie's
dies 19th. Janry.
Aged 59 Years.
And of REBECCA his Wife
who died 10th. May 1797
Aged 85 Years'
Below: the east window, partially obscured by the reredos, features
several lettered passages. The largest of these is the assymetrical:
Below: some of the decorative
A refurbished memorial stone to Thomas Cobbold which
has been mounted on the wall
near to the font:
into the floor in front of the chancel:
'The Vault of the
Rev. GEORGE ROUTH,
late Rector of
of THOMS. COBBOLD,
who departed this life
April the 21st. 1767,
In the 59th. year
of his Age.'
markers can be found for St Clements parish which stretches all the
way from the Wet Dock to St Clements Hospital in
Foxhall Road. Such things happen, no
doubt when you have three large parish churches within about a mile
along the northern edge of the Wet Dock (including St Mary-at-Quay and
St Peter's Church). You can see the
parish marker on our Old Hospitals page. See our Boundary marker
gallery for further examples.
These images show two
stone block markers built into the walls of the Jewish Cemetery, lying between Star Lane and Salthouse
Street. On the outer wall,
clost to the gate:
The marker inside the Jewish
Cemetery wall is better defined, but almost impossible to capture when
the gates are locked...
See our Boundary markers gallery for better
St Clements Church Hall
The nearby St Clements Church
Hall which fronts Grimwade Street once bore incised lettering below the
left hand window. See the 1983 photograph below:
CLEMENT'S PAROCHIAL HALL
Photograph courtesy The Ipswich Society
We assume that this large name
tablet was covered with cement (photographs below) when the
church sold the hall for commercial use. In 2013 it is a private
[UPDATE 19.12.2013: "The talk you gave at Museum Street
Church on Wednesday evening was a rewarding demonstration of how one
can so easily miss enjoyable details of the local area. Thank you for
I have been a resident of Ipswich
for all of my seventy-four years and thus soon found my way to your
very interesting website, of which, so far, I have not had time to
examine in depth. However, I believe the two attached pictures, that I
took, in the pre-digital age of – I think the mid nineteen-eighties –
might actually be a small improvement on the relevant ones you already
have. Please use them as you wish.
Seeing Anthony Cobbold in the
audience on Wednesday, for obvious reasons, I have also sent the
pictures to him. Best Wishes, John Bulow-Osborne." Many
thanks to John for the excellent photographs and comments. He also contributes much of our Lost trade signs
Images courtesy John Bulow-Osborne
'ST. CLEMENT'S PAROCHIAL
At last we can read the
nicely chiselled lettering below the east window of the hall and can't
help speculating why someone has bothered to cover it up with cement.
The Cobbold Family History
resource for all things 'Cobbold': see Links)
tells us that John Murray
Cobbold (1897-1944) was an '8th generation Brewer. Founder of Ipswich
Town Football Club'.
OPENED JUNE 12TH. 1903 BY
JOHN MURRAY COBBOLD'
sixth John Cobbold, grandson of the Earl of Dunmore, must have
vexed his parents for he was nicknamed 'Ivan the terrible.' It stuck
and he was known as Ivan for the rest of his life. He joined the Scots
Guards in 1915, was injured but not seriously in France and left the
army at the end of the war.
He was a keen sportsman and as one of the best shots in the country it
was a pursuit he shared with King George VI. He joined the family
brewing business and was present at the 200th anniversary celebrations
on 30th July 1923 at Holywells succeeding to the chairmanship on his
father's death in 1929.
Following a chance meeting with Sir Samuel Hill-Wood, Chairman of
Arsenal and a visit to Highbury 'Capt.' Ivan (as he then was) put up
the money necessary for Ipswich Town Football Club to turn
professional. The amateur club had been founded in 1878 by the boys of
Ipswich School under the presidency of Thomas Clement Cobbold MP
(1833-1883) his great uncle, with a distinctive Corinthian culture
which survives to this day.
WWII saw him back in uniform now with the rank of Colonel only to be
tragically killed when a doodlebug hit the Guards Chapel during Sunday
morning service on 18th June 1944. Ironically it was in that same
chapel that he had married Lady Blanche, daughter of the 11th Duke of
Devonshire. They had just celebrated their Silver Wedding."
Click for more about Boundary markers.
The following text is taken
from The History & Description
of the Town and Borough of Ipswich including the Villages and Country
Seats in its Vicinity more particularly those situated on the Banks of
the Orwell by G.R.
Clarke, 1830 (see Reading List for an online
version). Modern historians of Ipswich often cite or quote from G.R.
Clarke, so it is instructive to look at the original 1830 book. The
and plethora of punctuation make this passage difficult to unpick, but
we have reference to Wykes Bishop and Wykes Ufford hamlets (see our Ransomes page) and it finishes with a brief
description of St Clement's Church. Pages 300-302:-
‘In ancient times, the banks on this
side [the north and east of what we today know as the Wet Dock] of the
river were inhabited by the principle people of the town: and it is
certain that many of their houses have been converted into
malt-offices; several of which are still objects of curiosity, and
their origins worthy of research. We can remember, in our time, when
the most eminent merchants in the place occupied the many capital
mansions near this spot, which are now empty, and going to decay; as it
is, at present, the fashion for them to remove from the
confinement and bustle of business, to their elegant rural
retreats in the suburbs: in the consequence of which, the vicinity of
Ipswich has been very much improved.
St. Clement’s Church was early and
wholly impropriated to the Priory of St. Peter, without any vicarage
created: and its being thus impropriated, when the last value was made,
it was not valued in the king’s books. It was granted, in the seventh
year of Edward VI. [?: reigned 1547-1553] to Webb and Breton; but it
afterwards came to Robert Broke and William Bloise; who presented a
clerk to the rectory, in 1606, and thereby restored the rector to all
his rights and dues. This church is now consolidated with St Helen’s.
“King Richard gave Wykes, a member of Ipswich, to John Oxenford, bishop
of Norwich; which shall answer to Ipswich for £10, and the bishop of
Norwich holdeth it, but it is not known by what service.” It appears by
Ipswich Domesday, that, in the time of Richard I., the town used to pay
£10 per annum, to the bishop of Norwich, – to be deducted out of the
fee-farm rent. The hamlet and manor of Wykes Bishop, was, afterwards
confirmed to John le Gray, bishop of Norwich by King John; and it
belonged to the bishops of Norwich, till it was given to King Henry
VIII., by act of parliament, in 1535; who granted it, 1545, to Sir John
Jermie, Knight. John Cobbold, esq., is, at present, lord of the manor.
While the bishops of Norwich had it, they used, frequently, to reside
at their house, situated near the south side of the road leading
towards Nacton, from Bishops’ Hill; which is, now, a square field, that
appears to have been, formerly, moated round. Many institutions,
&c. are said, in the books at Norwich, to have been granted at this
place. The church of Wykes is sometimes mentioned in old writings; but
it is not known where it stood, and, possibly, it might be no more than
a chapel, for the use of the bishop and his family.
Within this parish lieth, also, part
of the hamlet of Wykes Ufford, though the greater part of it is in the
parishes of Rushmere and Westerfield: it was so called from the family
of De Ufford, who were earls of Suffolk, to whom it was granted. In the
tenth year of Edward II. 1316, Robert de Ufford held, on the day of his
death, a certain soke, in Wyke junta, Gippiwic, with view of frank
pledge, and other appurtenances, to the said soke, belonging to the
King in Capite, by the service of one knight’s fee, and £4 : 13 : 4
rent of the profits of the toll of the town of Ipswich, of the K. of C.
by the service aforesaid, and a tenement called Kettleber-west-heath,
in soccage, by the service of one pair of gilded spurs, annually; and,
also, of the K. in C. the manor of Ufford, by the service of one
knight’s fee. The Willoughbys had it, afterwards, by descent, from
Charles Brandon, duke of Suffolk; in Queen Elizabeth’s time, Sir John
Brewes; then Sir Edmund Witypoll, and it has gone with the Christ
Church state ever since; but the advowson is now vested in the Rev.
J.T. Nottidge, A.M.
Beyond St Clement’s street, between
the two hamlets, stood St. James’s Chapel; which probably belonged to
St. James’s Hospital, situated on a piece of ground abutting on the
Rope-ground, about half an acre, more or less; which is glebe belonging
to St Helen’s rectory. From hence, and from the fair which King John,
in 1199, granted to the lepers of St. Mary Magdalene, in Ipswich, to be
held on the morrow of St. James’ Hospital and the leprous-house of St.
Mary Magdalene; which stood somewhere near St. Helen’s church.
It is not known at what period St.
Clement’s church was built, as it is not mentioned in Doomsday. It was,
probably, erected instead of the dilapidated church of Osterbolt, which
stood near where the stepples formerly were, at the Bull’s Head corner,
and took its name from the east-gate that was near this spot. The
antiquated church of Osterbolt is mentioned in the twenty-first year of
Edward III. 1348; therefore, the present church must have been built
since that time., for it appears to be not very ancient.
The present church has three aisles;
the middle one is narrow, but lofty, and lighted by twelve windows on
each side; the north and south aisles are low, and the pews very
irregular. The altar-piece is modern, handsomely panelled, with
mouldings, in mahogany; in the centre, a circular glory is painted; on
the north side is a painting of the Salutation of the Virgin Mary, and
on the other side, the Agony of Our Saviour, very well executed, by Mr.
J. Smart. The handsome brass chandelier was presented, as the
inscription implies, by “Master Mileson Edgar, to St. Clement’s Parish,
Anno Domini, 1700.” '
St Clements Church Lane
To the left of the Parochial
Church Hall is a very old thoroughfare, now a shadow of its former
self: St Clements Church Lane. At the Grimwade Street end is a pair of
bollards to prevent vehicular access beneath an attractive iron arch
with central hanging lamp. We believe that The Ipswich Society (see Links) lobbied for the lamp to be made
live and lit at night.
Some conflict between the two
street nameplates: on the
church hall side it is merely 'ST. CLEMENTS' (interesting to see the
unnecessary full stop here); on the opposite wall a nameplate with coat
of arms reads 'ST. CLEMENTS CHURCH LANE'. As is common with street
nameplates, there is no possessive apostrophe. One wonders why the
pasageway warrants two nameplates when some larger thoroughfares have
one or none, also why they differ. An 1881 map detail of the area can
be viewed on our Street furniture
page (relating to the Ipswich Corporation Water Works); it shows the
western end of 'ST. CLEMENT'S CHURCH LANE', opposite the present site
of Fore Street Baths, (opened 1894) the
houses stand shoulder-to shoulder down to the junction with Angel Lane
and Fore Street. Angel Lane in modern times is a mere entrance to a car
10.12.2014: "There's a very
for this one actually. If you look at your picture of the 'St Clements'
only side, you can see six giveaway screw holes. The 'Church Lane' part
was on a second plate, subsequently removed. I have no idea when it was
taken away, but I can certainly remember it being there! -Nigel" We
clearly didn’t look closely enough. It poses one further question: why
did they split the nameplates?]
A few steps along the lane is the side door into the St Clement
Rectory with two ancient headstones cut into the brickwork. The
smaller of the two is inscribed:
and the larger, more
difficult to decipher, is dated '1771'. Other
headstones, no doubt moved from their original places in the
churchyard, stand along the lane.
The view from St Clements Church Lane
Here is the south elevation of St
Clement, the tower bearing a smart
clock with gold characters.
Facing the south door is a good example of reclamation and
refurbishment of an old building for a new use: residential. The oval
THIS PLAQUE WAS UNVEILED ON THE
OCCASION OF THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF
THESE HOMES AT
ST. CLEMENT'S CHURCH LANE
ON THE 22ND MAY 2002 BY
THE HON. CHRIS MOLE M.P.'
Further down St Clements Church lane, at the north-east corner of the
Fore Street Baths building is a rear entrance and passageway down to
the back of The Lord Nelson public house (fronting 81 Fore Street). The
wrought iron gate with its pleasant metal arch and central lamp, is
nicely lettered and painted. An earlier public house here (c.
1750-1807) was called The Noah's Ark. It could have been renamed The
Lord Nelson when the great sailor was appointed High Sheriff of Ipswich
in 1801. It retained two bars and a separate restaurant room until 1995
when major internal alterations were undertaken [information from
Suffolk CAMRA, see Links]. The original,
older pub building is to the west; The Lord Nelson is Listed Grade II:
"A C17 timber-framed and plastered building with a jettied upper storey
to the west half of the block, with exposed timber-framing and exposed
joists. 2 storeys and attics. The 1st storey windows are 3, 4 and
5-light mullioned casements with leaded lights. The ground storey is in
C20 brick and has continuous windows along the front. Roof tiled, with
3 gabled dormers."
Clement Congregational Church, Back Hamlet for a Victorian non-conformist place of
worship in this parish.
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throughout the Ipswich
Historic Lettering site: Borin Van Loon
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