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Old makes way for new at St John's

PUBLISHED: 16:22 27 July 2001 | UPDATED: 10:23 03 March 2010

WORK is nearing completion to demolish the original parish church of St John's in Cauldwell Hall Road, Ipswich.

WORK is nearing completion to demolish the original parish church of St John's in Cauldwell Hall Road, Ipswich.

The old church, which stands next to its Victorian replacement, had been recently used as a church hall, but for the last three years it has remained empty.

The popular St John's church, which attracts very large congregations, has been home to a church since 1251.

Local church historian Ken Brown said that the old parish church has gradually been replaced over the last 102 years.

"St John's Church, which was built in 1856, originally took around nine months to build and was first open for worship in February 1857.

"In 1869 it was extended and a new bell tower was added, then, in 1899, the current church, which was designed by Henry Woolnough, opened next to the original church, which then became the church hall.

"When, in 1998, the new church hall was built, the old church was empty and waiting to be knocked down."

Rev Keith White, the vicar at St John's, said the decision to knock down the old church was inevitable due to its state of disrepair.

"It was not really viable to think about repair but we will look back with great gratitude on the hall. We all have some great memories of the church while it was used as a church hall - when I came here in 1997 a reception was held for me."

Mr White said there were other options open to the church, but they wanted to put something back into the community.

"We could have done something different with the hall like selling the land to make room for houses and flats but we wanted to keep hold of the land.

"It will be a floodlit sports area for use by the church and the community – we hope we can involve other groups at the church."

Building work should be finished by early September, though dates have yet been finalised.

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