The first Zoar Chapel,
Ipswich opened for worship in David Street (now demolished) on the 7th
January 1842 (see our page on the Primitive
Methodist Chapel in Rope Walk to see the original chapel on the
map). The present chapel situated in St. Helen's Street, designed by Johns & Slater 1924-5, was
opened for worship on Wednesday 18th March 1925. The first minister of
Zoar Chapel was Pastor J. B. Bateman who was called to the pastorate on
June 19th 1842. He was followed by Pastors W. Felton (1855-59), J.
Wilkins (1862-66), S. Willis (1867-70), J. Morling (1872-79), S. Cozens
(1882 - 1887), R.C. Bardens (1891-1907), P. Reynolds (1912-34), J.S.
Smith (1941-58), R.G. Martin (1960-65), E.D. Eldridge (1968- 82), R.J.
Howells (1984-89) and P.F. Hughes (1991-2005).
stylish, raised capitals high up on the lofty gable of the front
This religion is named after the
biblical city of Zoar, now rendered 'Zoara'. In Hebrew 'Zoar' means 'little' or
'insignificant'. It was one of the five (Pentapolis) cities of the
plain of Jordan in the book of Genesis in the Old Testament, which
escaped the "brimstone and fire" which destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, as
Zoar had sheltered Lot and his daughters.
Zoar was originally a Strict Baptist
place of worship founded in the hamlet of Lower Dicker in East
Sussex in 1837. The David Street chapel in Ipswich
followed speedily, opening in 1842. Today there appear to be many such
Chapels throughout the country split into factions and variants:
'Zoar', 'Bethel', 'Ebenezer', 'Hope',
'Providence', 'Zion', 'Salem' (see our Salem
Chapel page) etc.
The Borough's local list tells us:
"Zoar Baptist Church, St Helens Street. (1925). Church group at the
junction of St Helens Street and Rope Walk. Gable roofed church with
transepts and smaller gabled church hall set back and to one side. Red
brick, blue headers, stone dressings, clay roof tiles. The main (north)
church elevation facing St Helens Street is emphasised by a tall
central bay set between buttresses with heavy stone finials, which
project beyond the slope of the roof. The double leaf entrance door at
its base has a flat canopy; above, a tall round-headed window with thin
glazing bars, set within a brick arched recess which is expressed as
multiple brick orders under the arch. Plain stone imposts. In the
gable, a stone tablet carved with the word ‘Zoar’ in raised lettering,
set within a chequer pattern of plain stone tablets. In the walls to
either side of the central bay, narrow round headed window openings.
The roof slope descends either side of the central bay, wrapping round
the frontage as tile hanging above a shallow tiled canopy. Single
storey flat roofed structure wraps the south end of the church. Gabled
brick entrance porches on the west and east sides, round headed arches
over the door. The hall elevation has flat brick buttresses framing a
central window group; rectangular with thin glazing bars at ground
floor level; at first floor level a similar window with a round headed
window above a projecting lintel. Narrow round headed windows to either
side. Brick pier and metal railing wall surrounds the site, the piers
capped with stone."
These can be found on each side of the central door fronting onto St
STONE WAS LAID
TO THE GLORY OF GOD
PASTOR PHILIP REYNOLDS
(MINISTER OF "ZOAR" CHURCH)
ON FEBRUARY 27TH 1924.
GEO. A. KENNEY AND SONS,
STONE WAS LAID
Both plaques have had their
bevelled edges painted with masonry paint, now peeling off.
Johns & Slater were one
practice of a number of good architects working in Ipswich and left
their mark on several sites in the town. They designed the Social
Settlement in Fore Street (demolished in 1961), The People's Hall in Stoke Street the Fraser's store in Princes Street/Museum
Street and the original Civic College (later 'Suffolk College') when as
Johns Slater Haward, the main design came from the pen of local
architect Birkin Haward. Sadly, flaws in the reinforced concrete
manufacture resulted in demolition in 2006, the buildings replaced by
Suffolk New College on Rope Walk.
TO THE GLORY OF GOD
BY HIS WORSHIP
THE MAYOR OF IPSWICH
(DR. J.R. STADDON)
ON FEBRUARY 27TH
JOHNS AND SLATER.
[UPDATE 22.9.2021: ‘I was born
and lived in Jefferies Road from 1941 and attended Zoar for many years.
The article is informative about the chapel itself but fails to mention
the building next to it. In 1941 this didn't exist but instead there
was a single story building made of wood and elevated on brick columns.
I'm not sure when this was replaced by the current building, but
probably late 40s early 50s. The date will be on the foundation stone
'The new two-story building was designed as a function space (weddings
etc.) and a Sunday school. I don't know the name of the architect, but
he/she obviously tried to mimic the outside design of the chapel itself
as viewed from St Helens Street and made a pretty poor job of it in my
'Re: the brick piles of the original Sunday School, a friend who has
lived in Jefferies Road his whole life suggested that they were there
because the area flooded fairly regularly at one time. I do remember St
Helens Street flooding when I was a child, but I've always thought that
this was just a memory of the great storm of 1953. However, there were
also floods in 1939 apparently and perhaps at other times also.
Regards, Gordon Edwards’ Many thanks
to Gordon for this additional information. For a 1911 postcard of a
flood in St Helens Street see our H.W. Turner
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