Historic church to get revamp

THERE were celebrations today with the announcement that Ipswich is to get a major new concert venue when a massive refurbishment of one of its most historic churches goes ahead.

THERE were celebrations today with the announcement that Ipswich is to get a major new concert venue when a massive refurbishment of one of its most historic churches goes ahead.

A grant of £772,000 has been awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, to secure the future of St Peter's Church at the Waterfront and open it up to the public for the first time in many years.

The historic church is currently unused but the funding will allow it to be converted into a concert venue playing host to thousands of visitors each year.

Ipswich Hospital Band has been awarded the grant and will run the building project, overseeing St Peter's ongoing use as a concert venue.


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Vic Lowne, from the band, said: “We are absolutely over the moon about this award. Apart from giving us much needed rehearsal and performance space, it will establish our position as a major contributor on the local musical scene.

“We are quite certain that other local organisations will benefit from our initiative.”

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At present St Peter's is only open to the public for half a day per week during summer months.

Its redevelopment will see the installation of a stage and a 205-seat auditorium, as well as sound and lighting facilities which will be suitable to accommodate a range of performances.

As well as concerts, the church will also be available to host a range of artistic activities.

There will also be conservation work to the fabric of the building, and a range of displays to tell the story of the church's history, which dates back to 1130.

Robyn Llewellyn, East of England regional manager for the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “It is so exciting to help bring a wonderful historic building like this back to life for local people to enjoy.

“St Peter's is an absolute gem, located right in the middle of a major regeneration area, so this scheme ticked all the boxes for us.

“The funding will help to secure a future for one of Ipswich's key churches, and enable thousands of people to come and visit, whether enjoying a concert performance in a truly unique environment, or just dropping in to soak up centuries of local history.”

Weblink: www.ipswichhospitalband.org.uk

St Peter's is one of six redundant medieval churches in Ipswich and was built in Romanesque style as the church of the Augustinian Black Canons of the Priory of St Peter and St Paul.

The existing aisles were added in 1400 and the west tower in 1470.

Cardinal Thomas Wolsey refurbished the church in 1528 to serve as the chapel of his short-lived Cardinal College of St Mary, and ten years later St Peter's because an ordinary parish church.

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