St Matthew Church

Ipswich Historic Lettering: St Matthew Church Ogilby map
Courtesy Stephen Govier, Suffolk historian
The engraving above is from John Ogilby's map of Ipswich, 1674.

Marooned by the dual carriageway of Civic Drive, its churchyard suffering incursions on all side, "St Matthew's" is better know to Ipswichians as the name of the nearby roundabout. Once quite a small church, St Matthew is now a big one. Its core is 15th century, including the lower part of the tower (see our first image below). Its 19th century expansion can be explained by the proximity of the Ipswich Barracks, for this became the Garrison church. This resulted in the huge aisles, as wide as the nave. The chancel was also rebuilt, but retaining its medieval roof.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: St Matthew Church 62013 images
To the right of the main doorway is this fascinating brick and stone early structure.
The top of the tower drew our attention and these photographs show glimpses of the monograms on each side.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: St Matthew Church 1   Ipswich Historic Lettering: St Matthew Church 2
The situation of the tower and the proximity of trees and other structures make this a difficult subject to photograph. A more powerful zoom lens (and tripod) would reveal so much more in the right light conditions.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: St Matthew Church 3   Ipswich Historic Lettering: St Matthew Church 4
This rather odd Victorian gothic confection atop the tower features central waterspout gargoyles surrounded by a row of grotesque faces and foliate features. Above the 'sill' is a frieze of flushwork (stone and knapped flint), then another sill and a curious mixture of closed masonry panelling pierced by church windows, all resembling battlements. All sorts of carvings, lettering and curiosities are included here, but so high it really needs to be properly photographed and recorded. It is quite possible that the church has an information sheet about these tower features, but sadly it is the only town centre church which is kept locked, so we couldn't get in.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: St Matthew Church 5
The view of the top of the tower from the Civic Drive side reveals a central feature between the pierced ecclesiastical 'windows'. The close-up shows the curly letters 'S M' for St Matthew. See the lettering on St Matthew's Hall in nearby Clarkson Street.

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