St Pancras Church

St Pancras once towered over slum housing in the Cox Lane area of the town (now mainly car parks). This building has very little in the way of public lettering, but we include it here for the typical, painted wooden crucifixion figure at the front of the church.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: St Pancras 3
'I.N.R.I.' is carved on the upper scroll. These letters are initials come from the biblical story and stand for the Latin title that Pontius Pilate had written over the head of Jesus Christ on the cross. Latin was the official language of the Roman Empire. The words were "Iesvs Nazarenvs Rex Ivdaeorvm." Latin uses “I” instead of the English “J”, and “V” instead of “U”. The English translation is "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews."
Ipswich Historic Lettering: St Pancras 1   Ipswich Historic Lettering: St Pancras 2
"Seen from across the car park, the only clue that it was once tightly surrounded by poor people's houses is that there are no windows in the wall of the north aisle. St Pancras looks rather like a bit dropped off. This is because that is exactly what it is. The architect, George Goldie's, commission was for the huge, recently demolished School of Jesus and Mary on the campus of the Woodbridge Road church of St Mary, and this town centre church in the same style. St Pancras was intended to be the start of a great cathedral, of which the surviving church was but the chancel. At the time, Ipswich was in the Diocese of Northampton; today, it is in the Diocese of East Anglia, with a great stone Gothic cathedral at Norwich. But the Norwich cathedral, built as the church of St John the Baptist, and the equally grand Our Lady and the English Martyrs in Cambridge, were both begun a good thirty years after St Pancras [1861]. If it had ever been finished, St Pancras would have been one of the biggest red brick churches in England.

The Catholic presence in Ipswich had been re-established in the 1790s, at the time of the French Revolution, by a refugee Priest, Louis Simon. He said Mass in the home of a rich local lady Margaret Wood, and then with her help established a mission church near the Woodbridge Road barracks. This church, St Anthony, formed the transepts of the building that still survives as the parish hall of the 1960 St Mary. After the re-establishment of the Catholic hierarchy in England, the plan was to create a town centre profile for the Church, and this was why Goldie was commissioned to build St Pancras. However, anti-Catholic feeling was rather stronger than it had been seventy years previously. On a night in November 1862, the protestant ministers of the town whipped up such a state of hysteria that angry mobs ran through Ipswich smashing windows of Catholic churches, homes and businesses.
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[The above information taken from Simon's Suffolk Churches, see Links.]



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