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'More beautiful than we remembered' - majestic Ipswich chapel finally reopens after three-year closure

PUBLISHED: 18:54 18 December 2019 | UPDATED: 18:54 18 December 2019

The new chapel being opened at St Joseph's College in Ipswich. Picture: ST JOSEPH'S COLLEGE

The new chapel being opened at St Joseph's College in Ipswich. Picture: ST JOSEPH'S COLLEGE

Archant

A "majestic" Ipswich chapel forced to close for three years when it fell into disrepair has finally been brought back to life after a major revamp.

The new chapel being opened at St Joseph's College in Ipswich. Picture: ST JOSEPH'S COLLEGEThe new chapel being opened at St Joseph's College in Ipswich. Picture: ST JOSEPH'S COLLEGE

The building at St Joseph's College in Ipswich has been a much-loved part of the school since 1967, hosting memorable assemblies, prizegiving ceremonies, concerts and worship for half a century.

But the historic structure - which had become "the heart of St Joseph's" - was regrettably closed in February 2017 after rain damage took its toll on the dramatic 1960s design.

The school admitted the news "came as a blow".

However, determined to restore the site, a major fundraising campaign was launched to pay for the £750,000 repair and refurbishment.

The new chapel being opened at St Joseph's College in Ipswich. Picture: ST JOSEPH'S COLLEGEThe new chapel being opened at St Joseph's College in Ipswich. Picture: ST JOSEPH'S COLLEGE

And now the breathtaking chapel has not only been restored to its former glory, but enhanced and improved - with new lighting and audio-visual equipment to help improve performances.

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It was finally unveiled to eagerly awaiting guests on Saturday, December 14, where it was blessed by the Bishop of East Anglia, the Right Rev Alan Hopes.

St Joseph's College chapel during the refurbishment. Picture: ST JOSEPH'S COLLEGESt Joseph's College chapel during the refurbishment. Picture: ST JOSEPH'S COLLEGE

The event included representatives from the Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and Sikh communities at its opening, reflecting St Joseph College's inclusive ethics.

It has already been used for a standing-room-only candlelit carol service and the independent school's end of term assembly.

Danielle Clarke, principal of St Joseph's College, said: "Three years' evaluation, repair and upgrading, together with tireless fundraising and wonderful generosity from the St Joseph's College community and beyond, have given us back 'the heart of St Joseph's', even more beautiful than we remembered.

"We are immensely grateful to all who have helped make this happen."

St Joseph's College has described the upgrade as a "revelation", with the school praising Ipswich contractor Elliston Steady and Hawes for "enhancing what was already a majestic space".

JP Chick worked on the site as structural engineer, while JSH carried out the building services' design.

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