St Matthew's Hall

Ipswich Historic Lettering: St Mathew's Hall 4   Ipswich Historic Lettering: St Mathew's Hall 52014 images
St Matthew's Hall, 2014: now with added armchair.
Clarkson Street is one of a clutch of streets around Barrack corner on Norwich Road which have been named after anti-slavery campaigners (see our Abolitionists Street Names page for the explanation). A short way down on the right we find this ecclesiastical piece of white brick and stonework with fine lettering (can't think how we've missed it up to 2010...). Look out also for the Wild Man grotesque at the apex of the window (above) – the door to the right has a smaller version above it.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: St Mathew's Hall 10   Ipswich Historic Lettering: St Mathew's Hall 8
The panels below the rather plain window form a triptych. A central arc with incised spandrels on either side contains deliriously decorative and eccentric lettering and numerals in relief; "Saint Matthew's" running round the curve and "Hall" replete with full-stop centred below:
Ipswich Historic Lettering: St Mathew's Hall 7  Ipswich Historic Lettering: St Matthews 6
The outer wings need to be read across from left to right: the 'S' and 'M' sit above crossed swords and below on the left the interlaced monogram: 'AD.' (that full stop again) and to the right the interlaced monogram: '1900'. Possibly the finest touch is the letter 'A' on 'AD.' (see below). See the monograms of a similar flavour at the top of nearby St Matthew Church in Portman Road. An identical panel to that above right can be seen in the Church of St Michael in Upper Brook Street.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: St Mathew's Hall 9
The capital 'A' in "Matthew's" is formed from two serpentine shapes joined by a stepped cross-piece. The building was designed by H.J. Wright in 1899-1900.

It's not clear what use is made in 2010 of the Saint Matthew's Hall by the combined parish of St Matthew, Triangle and All Saints, however we note that a dance club is advertised. This hall is a fair distance from the Church of St Matthew which sits between the dual carriageway of Civic Drive and Portman Road. From the church hall it can be accessed by walking past a couple of other churches in London Road, into the top of Portman Road, past the old telephone exchange and along the church passage to the church with St Matthew's School nearby.  This hall is not to be confused with Saint Matthew's Baths Hall which stood at the juction of the Norwich Road section of St Matthew's Street and Civic Drive. 'The Baths Hall' held the town's main swimming pool until the building of Crown Pools in 1980s. Unbelievably the pool - still full of water - was sometimes boarded over to make the famous bouncing floor for concerts: Eric Clapton graced the Baths Hall stage with the Yardbirds in 1966 and later with Cream;
Led Zeppelin played there in the early part of their career (1971) among many other big names from the sixties blues and R&B boom. The Baths Hall is apparently still there in 2010 surrounded by retail space, due to its listed building status(?); we also hear that an original glazed roof lantern is above it.

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