Sea shanties sound across waterfront to honour Ipswich HMS Victory designer

Captain Geoffrey Hartgrove, chairman of Ipswich Maritime Trust, at the memorial to Sir Thomas Slade

Captain Geoffrey Hartgrove, chairman of Ipswich Maritime Trust, at the memorial to Sir Thomas Slade - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Sea shanties have chimed over Ipswich Waterfront in memory of HMS Victory designer Sir Thomas Slade.

The designer of Lord Nelson's famous ship, Sir Thomas came from a family of Ipswich and Harwich shipbuilders and, through his numerous warships, helped make the Royal Navy into a force to be feared worldwide.

Behind other giant warships and frigates including the HMS Bellephon, HMS Windsor, and HMS Agincourt, Sir Thomas died in 1771 and was brought back to Ipswich to be buried next to his wife Hannah in the churchyard of St Clements Church.

Peter Brooks, chairman of Ipswich Historic Churches Trust, at St Clements Church

Peter Brooks, chairman of Ipswich Historic Churches Trust, at St Clements Church - Credit: Charlotte Bond

The church was the perfect place to lay the talented architect and shipbuilder to rest, being named after the patron saint of the seas.

Long after his death, his draughts and designs continued to be in use.

To mark the 250th anniversary of his death on February 23, the church bells rang out – including to the tune of the sea shanties "A Drop of Nelson's Blood", "Blow the Man Down", and the navy hymn "Eternal Father Strong to Save".

A wreath was laid at his memorial outside the church by Captain Geoffrey Hartgrove, former chair of the Ipswich Maritime Trust and chairman of the Merchant Navy Association.

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He was joined by chairman of the Ipswich Historic Churches Trust (IHCT), Peter Brooks.

The memorial to Sir Thomas Slade, designer of HMS Victory

The memorial to Sir Thomas Slade, designer of HMS Victory - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Further plans to hold a larger memorial event were scuppered by the coronavirus crisis, although organisers hope another memorial event can take place later in the year.

Mr Brooks said: “We had hoped to do something more substantial at the church where he is buried on the 23rd but we aim to do more later in the year as restrictions ease.

"Meanwhile on February 23, we have arranged for the bells of St Clement to play appropriate maritime tunes on its carillon.

"The St Clement carillon dates to 1882 when it and the clock were donated by Felix Thornley Cobbold."

The bells at St Clements Church chimed to the tune of famous sea shanties 

The bells at St Clements Church chimed to the tune of famous sea shanties - Credit: Charlotte Bond

The carillon, dating back to 1660 and 1680 at the time of King Charles II, has been chiming again since it was restored by IHCT in 2018.

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