Church bells will ring to honour Ipswich naval legend Sir Thomas Slade
- Credit: Ipswich Historic Churches Trust
The bells of a historic Ipswich church will ring out on Tuesday to celebrate the life of Ipswich naval legend Sir Thomas Slade, and a wreath will be laid in his memory.
Tuesday, February 23 marks the 250th anniversary of the death of the celebrated warship designer, who designed HMS Victory, Lord Nelson's flagship at Trafalgar .
To mark the occasion, the bells of St Clement's Church will ring out, including the sea shanty tune A Drop of Nelson’s Blood, and the naval hymn Eternal Father, Strong to Save.
A wreath will be laid at 11.30 am by Captain Geoffrey Hartgrove, former chairman of Ipswich Maritime Trust and chairman of the Merchant Navy Association, and Peter Brooks, chairman of Ipswich Historic Churches Trust.
Mr Brooks said: “We had hoped to do something more substantial at the church where he is buried on February 23, but we aim to do more later in the year as restrictions ease.
"Meanwhile, we have arranged for the bells of St Clement to play appropriate maritime tunes on its carillon."
A member of a shipbuilding family based in Ipswich and Harwich, Sir Thomas was born in 1703 or 1704. He designed dozens of fighting ships, including frigates and giant warships like HMS Bellephon, HMS Windsor, and HMS Agincourt.
His ships continued to be used many years after his death, with HMS Victory famously being the scene of Nelson's heroic death in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
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Sir Thomas was knighted in 1768. After his death in 1771, he was brought back to Ipswich to be buried next to his wife Hannah in the churchyard of St Clement's Church, known as the seafarers’ or mariners’ church.
A monument to him stands in front of the church, where the wreath will be laid in his memory.
The special chimes for the day have been arranged by bell ringer Katharine Salter and are being operated remotely. They will include the songs Shantyman and Blow The Man Down, and will sound at 10am, 12 noon and through the day, finishing with A Drop of Nelson’s Blood at 7pm
The St Clement carillon dates to 1882, when it and the clock were donated by Felix Thornley Cobbold. Ms Salter said: “It has been chiming again since it was restored by the IHCT in 2018. The historic peal of six bells dates back to 1660 and 1680 and the reign of King Charles II."