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Plaque to be unveiled at Ipswich Arts Centre to mark legacy of Dr John Blatchly

PUBLISHED: 09:00 27 October 2017

John Blatchly, here in his study. Picture: ARCHANT

John Blatchly, here in his study. Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

A plaque in memory of a leading Ipswich teacher, author, historian and church conservationist is set to be unveiled at the site of one of his last projects to recognise his contribution to the town.

St Clements Church, Ipswich, where the plaque will be erected. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR St Clements Church, Ipswich, where the plaque will be erected. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

Former Ipswich School headmaster Dr John Blatchly was a prominent figure in the community, having been an author, scientist, musician and teacher.

But Dr Blatchly was also a key campaigner for church conservation in Ipswich, helping the likes of St Peter’s and St Mary’s gain new leases of life, before his death aged 82 in September 2015.

Now, to recognise his legacy, a brass plaque in his memory is due to be erected on the empty St Clements Church in Star Lane, which is currently being transformed into the Ipswich Arts Centre.

Ipswich historic Churches Trust vice-chairman John Field said the plaque would be a fitting tribute to Dr Blatchly's legacy. Picture: SIMON PARKER Ipswich historic Churches Trust vice-chairman John Field said the plaque would be a fitting tribute to Dr Blatchly's legacy. Picture: SIMON PARKER

John Field, vice-chairman of the Ipswich Historic Churches Trust, which Dr Blatchly was chairman of for 19 years, said: “He was very keen on bringing churches back into use.

“The only one left to find a use for was St Clements and that is for the arts centre.

“He was very much involved in trying to get the Ipswich Arts Centre to move into the church there.

Left to right: Richard MacRae, Carol Gant, Simon Hallsworth and Ellie DeGory at St Clements Church, Ipswich, where the Ipswich Arts Centre is being created. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR Left to right: Richard MacRae, Carol Gant, Simon Hallsworth and Ellie DeGory at St Clements Church, Ipswich, where the Ipswich Arts Centre is being created. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

“The trust felt it was appropriate to get a little plaque installed at St Clements because that was the last one to do.

“It was something that was very close to his heart.”

A listed building consent application has been submitted to Ipswich Borough Council to install the plaque.

Meanwhile, work is continuing in restoring the church’s interior into a vibrant arts centre, after more than 30 years as a derelict building.

Others already transformed by the trust are St Nicholas and St Lawrence churches, which are both now cafes, St Peter’s, which is the St Peter’s by the Waterfront venue, and St Mary’s which has become the Quay Place health and wellbeing centre.

The plaque is due to be installed in November or early December, and will be unveiled in a special ceremony sometime before Christmas.

Mr Field added: “Dr Blatchly put his heart and soul into finding uses and getting the churches back into a good standard, finding appropriate uses which respected the historical and ecclesiastical heritage.”

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