St Peter's Church
St Peter’s is one of twelve medieval
churches in Ipswich, and was built in Romanesque style as the church of
the Augustinian Black Canons of the Priory
of St Peter and St Paul. The
existing aisles were added in 1400 and the west tower in 1470. Cardinal
Thomas Wolsey refurbished the church in 1528 to serve as the chapel of
his short-lived Cardinal College of St Mary, and ten years later St
Peter’s became an ordinary parish church. Strange to think that,
if Wolsey hadn't poured so much of his money into Oxford University and
if he hadn't fallen out with Henry VIII, this area could now be the
centre of a complex of colleges to rival Oxford and Cambridge. The
'watergate' to what would have been the College - the Wolsey Gate in
College Street next to the church - features (partly) in our
photographs of the disappearing 'Burtons'
sign. As one of the most important historic buildings in Ipswich, it's
easy to miss the flushwork (knapped flint and stone) lettering flanking
the west door gateway (see note 1.
the crowned initial 'P' either side of the College Street entrance (see
note 2. below). A
lottery grant in 2006 enabled restoration of the run-down church as a
for the Ipswich Hospital Band and an excellent performance venue.
Wolsey's Gate is only a few yards down
College Street from here.
Ipswich's resident expert on all things architecturally ecclesiastical,
Simon Knott opines:
1. "These are both examples of the so-called 'sacred monogram', the
letters 'IHC', the first three letters of the Greek word
IHCOYC. The bar across the top shows that it is an abbreviation (and,
incidentally, forms a cross). It is more usually found in its Latin
form IHS, although the Greek form was popular among 19th century church
restorers because Greek was considered less 'popish' than Latin.
The monograms may date from George Gilbert Scott's restoration of 1878
- but in fact I think that they are probably later, perhaps 1890s.
Having them on the gates would have been considered quite demonstrative
in the 1870s."
2. "...I recall that it is a monogram of SP for Sanctus Petrus, the
Holy Rock, that is to say Saint Peter, a 19th century restoration of
what may, or may not, have been there before..."
Thanks to Simon.
St Peter's Hall, which we assume is the
Victorian red brick hall attached to the church, is sited in St Peter's
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Historic Lettering site: Borin Van Loon
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