Sunshine and Showers

Sunshine and Showers

max temp: 6°C

min temp: 3°C

Search

New life for old chapel

PUBLISHED: 13:29 04 July 2008 | UPDATED: 11:19 09 March 2010

EADT

Words Mark Lord

Leiston Abbey chapel on Minsmere Reserve

The ruins of the ancient chapel that is all that remains of the original leiston Abbey at Minsmere Reserve

Picture by Jerry Turner
2/7/08

EADT 3/7/08

EADT Words Mark Lord Leiston Abbey chapel on Minsmere Reserve The ruins of the ancient chapel that is all that remains of the original leiston Abbey at Minsmere Reserve Picture by Jerry Turner 2/7/08 EADT 3/7/08

A SIGNIFICANT piece of Suffolk's medieval past - known to thousands of visitors to Suffolk's top nature reserve - has been preserved.

A SIGNIFICANT piece of Suffolk's medieval past - known to thousands of visitors to Suffolk's top nature reserve - has been preserved.

The small chapel, which lies on coastal marshland at Minsmere, near Leiston, has been protected from the ravages of time thanks to help from heritage bosses.

It is the second piece of the area's ancient history to be preserved and heralded as being of national importance - last month an early medieval boat was uncovered at Sizewell.

The conservation of Leiston Chapel has given archaeologists a valuable insight into how the land was used dating back to 1182.

The RSPB was given £35,600 by English Heritage and £12,000 from Natural England to conserve and repair the crumbling walls of the chapel under the proviso that it commissioned a thorough evaluation first.

This research was led by Suffolk County Council's Archaeological Conservation Team and confirmed the chapel is situated in the centre of what was originally a Premonstratensian Abbey.

Leiston Abbey, formerly known as St Mary's Abbey, was founded in 1182 near Minsmere by Ranulf de Glanville, Lord Chief Justice to King Henry II.

Fearing an increased risk of flooding, the monks abandoned the abbey in 1363, and a new complex was built two and a half miles further inland by Robert de Ufford, Earl of Suffolk.

Documentary evidence suggests that a presence was maintained on the original site until the dissolution in 1537 and Leiston Chapel is the only surviving evidence of this continuing occupation.

John Ette, ancient monuments inspector for English Heritage in the east region, said: “This is of great archaeological importance, being the early site of the Leiston Abbey and where the monks created their community before they were inundated by coastal processes.

“The chapel is the last surviving element and it sits on a hill in the most amazing setting in the nature reserve.

“It may appear that very little is left of the abbey but what is here is of great importance. This and the other Leiston Abbey are the only Premonstratensian sites in Suffolk.”

Stuart Boulter, archaeologist for Suffolk County Council, said: “The chapel has three phases of building showing the different periods of restoration it has been through and helps us back up the belief that after the abbey was transferred to Leiston this chapel was still inhabited.”

The chapel also played a surprising role in during the Second World War, when a concrete pillbox and machine gun emplacement was inserted into the eastern end of the structure.

Ian Barthorpe, spokesman for RSPB Minsmere, said: “Many of our visitors ask about the building in the middle of marshes, allowing us to tell its fascinating story.

“Twice a year I organise walks past the chapel and it gives me the opportunity to tell how its history relates to the current landscape of Minsmere and how its inhabitants over the years have helped shape this part of the reserve.”

Worried neighbours in an Ipswich street claim brazen drug dealing is taking place in front of children returning home from school.

There is good news for bargain hunters in Stowmarket as a discount store bids to make a return to the town.

A 17-year-old youth accused of being involved in a fight in the car park of an Ipswich McDonald’s restaurant during which a 16-year-old boy was stabbed has admitted an offence of violent disorder.

Police are looking to speak to a man in connection with incidents of stalking in the Norwich Road area of Ipswich.

Families on the Ravenswood estate have spoken of their disappointment after it was announced Rudolph and Santa won’t be passing through their streets this year.

Ipswich singer/songwriter Richard Osborne - who records under his surname - Osborne, has a worldwide hit on his hands with his debut dance single.

MP Dr Dan Poulter has demanded that Mid Suffolk Council takes action to ensure there is no development on land at Brockford in his constituency without planning permission.

Strictly Come Dancing attracts millions of viewers every Saturday evening to the BBC and the show has breathed new life into what has been a popular pastime in Ipswich for decades.

A three vehicle crash on the A12 at Saxmundham caused traffic hold ups at lunchtime today.

David Button will lead by example as he joins more than 400 fundraisers to brave the wintry weather on Christmas morning and run into the sea at Felixstowe.

Most read

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Newsletter Sign Up

Ipswich Star daily newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

MyDate24 MyPhotos24