Church bells will ring to honour Ipswich naval legend Sir Thomas Slade

St Clements Church in Ipswich

St Clement's Church in Ipswich will ring its bells in memory of Sir Thomas Slade on the 250th anniversary of his death - 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 .

The memorial to Sir Thomas Slade in St Clement's churchyard in Ipswich

The memorial to Sir Thomas Slade in St Clement's churchyard in Ipswich - Credit: John Norman

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.

"Lord Nelson" lays a wreath to Sir Thomas Slade at his memorial at St Clement's Church, Ipswich, in 2005  

"Lord Nelson" lays a wreath to Sir Thomas Slade at his memorial at St Clement's Church, Ipswich, at an event in 2005 to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar - Credit: Archant

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."

HMS Pickle, Nelson’s fast messenger ship, which brought news of the Trafalgar victory and Nelson’s death, visited Ipswich...

HMS Pickle, Nelson’s fast messenger ship, which brought news of the Trafalgar victory and Nelson’s death, visited Ipswich in 2005, as part of the 200th anniversary of the battle. - Credit: Ipswich Maritime Trust Image Archive

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.

Captain Geoffrey Hartgrove will lay a wreath in memory of Sir Thomas Slade on February 23, 2021

Captain Geoffrey Hartgrove will lay a wreath in memory of Sir Thomas Slade on February 23, 2021 - Credit: Archant

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.

HMS Victory in Portsmouth. Nelson's historic ship was designed by Sir Thomas Slade, who is buried in St Clement's...

HMS Victory in Portsmouth. Nelson's historic ship was designed by Sir Thomas Slade, who is buried in St Clement's Churchyard, Ipswich - Credit: PA

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 Royal Navy Museum's official portrait of Admiral Lord Nelson, who died at the of the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 

The Royal Navy Museum's official portrait of Admiral Lord Nelson, who died at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 - Credit: PA

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."

Bell ringer Katharine Salter

Bell ringer Katharine Salter has arranged the chimes in memory of Sir Thomas Slade - Credit: Katharine Salter


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