History of Ipswich landmark

Holy Trinity Church, which stands between Fore Hamlet and Back Hamlet, Ipswich, was, until the 1930s, in one of the most densely populated parts of Ipswich. In the mid Victorian period services attracted around 500 people. This year the church is celebrating its 175th anniversary and Jay Harvey the church warden has told me about the history of this Ipswich landmark, which has seen so many changes in its life.

Holy Trinity Church, which stands between Fore Hamlet and Back Hamlet, Ipswich, was, until the 1930s, in one of the most densely populated parts of Ipswich.

In the mid Victorian period services attracted around 500 people. This year the church is celebrating its 175th anniversary and Jay Harvey the church warden has told me about the history of this Ipswich landmark, which has seen so many changes in its life.

In 1835 the church was built as a “Chapel of Ease” to St Clement’s Church, and dedicated to the Holy Trinity by the Reverend John Thomas Nottidge. He erected it at his own expense, at a cost of �2,400. At that time the population of the parish was 2326. The first incumbent was the Reverend Richard Mosley. The Reverend F. H Maude arrived in January 1848 and stayed for 38 years, the longest serving incumbent in church’s history. Mr Maude was responsible for building the Trinity Church Day Schools in Trinity Street, costing nearly �2000, and the Vicarage at the top of Bishop’s Hill in 1868, at a cost of �1500. Trinity Street is now all industrial units. Between 1865 and 1882 the average congregation morning and evening was 450-500, and on one occasion reached 904. A very tall pulpit then stood in the middle of the church. In 1890 the old schoolrooms in the churchyard were demolished and a new Church Hall erected at a cost of �650. This building was found to be too small for the numbers in the Sunday school and three classrooms were added. The new building was dedicated on May 25, 1891.

In May 1894 plans were prepared for the alteration and improvement. By December fund-raising was well underway, and on January 5, 1896, after many months of holding services in the church hall, the church was re-opened by the Bishop of Norwich in April 1895. In 1898 the windows on the south and west sides were replaced by coloured glass. A note in the church magazine at the time shows that some things do not change, “As the panes on the Fore Hamlet side are constantly being broken by stones, they would be protected by wire mesh.”


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A war memorial was designed and unveiled and dedicated on October 24, 1920. A tablet containing the names of the fallen is now mounted on the wall in the side chapel also. September 1927 saw the arrival of the Reverend W.A. Gray, who stayed until October 1953. His ministry spanned the years of the Second World War, when the Vicarage at the junction of Rosehill Road and Bishops Hill was badly damaged by a bomb during an air raid and a friend of the family staying at the house was killed.

The centenary of the church in 1935 was celebrated with a “Divine Service” where the preacher was the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Dr W Whittingham. A formal procession began at the Social Settlement in Fore Street led by the Mayor the Mayor Mr George Mallett.

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The Annual Report in 1939 stated “the outbreak of war has had a very disturbing effect upon the activities of the church. Since September the younger men of our congregation have been leaving us in increasing numbers to join the forces”.

During the war years the east window was removed and taken to a place of safety until hostilities ceased. A number of young men connected with the church also lost their lives during the war, and their names are recorded on a tablet at the base of the 1914/18 memorial. During this period of the church’s history there were no full

time curates, but it did have the services of several lady workers.

In 1951 the Ipswich and District Scouts started holding their annual St George’s Day Service in the church with in excess of 400 youngsters attending. In the 1960s major redecoration and alterations were carried out, which resulted in the church being as it is today. Funding for this work was raised from a “Grand Fete” at Portman Road Football Ground. Reverend F.G. Burningham arrived in 1982 to take on Holy Trinity as well as St Luke’s in Cliff Lane. During this time the two churches joined together in various events. A fire in the boiler room swept across the hall roof causing substantial damage in 1978. In 1991 the Reverend Sam Cowley arrived as Priest in charge of Holy Trinity and St Michael’s. St Michael’s in Upper Orwell Street closed in 1997 and several of the congregation joined Holy Trinity.

In 1999 Holy Trinity was again linked with two other churches, St Helen’s and St Luke’s. The new benefice became informally known as “Waterfront Churches”. Early in 2010 the Rev Michael Tillett was inducted as the rector.

On Saturday September 11 Frank Grace, historian and author of the book “Rags and Bones” which looked at the history of this part of Ipswich, will give a talk about the churches history. For Tickets costing �5, including cheese and wine, and more infomation call Jay on 0773 199 1669.

The Mayor of Ipswich Jane Chambers is attending the 175th Anniversary Celebration Service of the Church on Sunday, September 26 at 11am. The Bishop of Dunwich will be preaching. The church is now open every weekday between 10am-2pm for visitors and as part of the heritage open days on September 11 and 12

Were you a member of the church or any of the activities there. Do you have any photographs of the Trinity Street School? Write to Kindred Spirits or e-mail info@kindred-spirit.co.uk

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