A church with a proud history

ONE hundred and fifty years ago the Methodist Church in Museum Street, Ipswich opened and this year the church will be celebrating with a number of events including a flower festival and service on June 19 and 20.

Huge changes were being made to the centre of Ipswich in the 1840s as Museum Street was built. A Tudor mansion, belonging to Thomas Seckford, was demolished in Westgate Street and the new road built. The town’s then new museum, which gave the road its name, opened in December 1847 in the building now occupied by the Arlington restaurant. The site opposite was purchased in March 1860 for �1,300. William Pretty, a leading layman and prominent local businessman, contributed �1,000. He laid the foundation stone in June 1860 with a silver trowel, which is still displayed in the church today. In March 1861 the church was opened for worship. The organ, also a gift from Mr Pretty, came from St Lawrence Church in Dial Lane. In 1935, when the organ was thought to be beyond repair, plans were made to replace it. The Second World War saw the project shelved until 1948 when the organ was restored at a cost of �1,000. In 1988 Bishop and Son of Ipswich completely dismantled the organ, which had become tired, worn and dangerous with old electrics. The rebuild used around 800 existing pipes and added 600 new ones. Work was completed in 1990.

In 1954, two cottages in Black Horse Lane, the property of the trustees, were demolished after they were condemned by the public health authorities and the area made into a car park.

In 1959, as the church prepared to celebrate its centenary, the front entrance lobbies were redesigned and the interior of the church reversed and modern lighting installed.

At the same time stained glass windows were given by local builder Mr Bernard Sadler in memory of members of his family. The church reopened in September 1959 with a civic service of thanksgiving.

In 1999 the church again saw a big refurbishment “Millennium Faithlift”. A sophisticated lighting system was installed and a suspended glass cross radiated light to all points of worship. A rededication service was held in November 1999 by the minister the Rev David Blatherwick.

- For details of the celebration planned this year contact Colin Fox on Ipswich (01473) 625729.

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- In 1850 an archway was cut into a house at the junction of King Street and Elm Street, making a through way with Arcade Street linking to Museum Street.

- In last week’s Kindred Spirits I published a set of fantastic colour photographs of Ipswich taken in the 1960s by Harry Dedman, father of the now retired Rev Roger Dedman, formally of St Mary’s Church, Bramford. I credited the photographs to the wrong surname. My apologies to the Dedman family.