St Mary-at-the-Quay church conservation work takes shape as visitors inspect progress

St Mary-at-the-Quay, Ipswich opens to visitors during its restoration

St Mary-at-the-Quay, Ipswich opens to visitors during its restoration

A historic building near Ipswich’s waterfront is nearing the end of a £5million makeover to turn it into a versatile community space.

St Mary-at-the-Quay church in Key Street is being transformed into Quay Place by mental health charity Suffolk Mind and the Churches Conservation Trust.

The imposing 15th Century building has been under renovation for more than a year and an open day on Saturday was the first chance for members of the public to see work progressing as part of the project’s second stage.

This has included building a new, modern extension in the church’s grounds.

With work continuing rapidly it is hoped the church will be open for business in spring next year.

Sue Gray, from Suffolk Mind, said the open day gave people and businesses a chance to see what use they could make of the building when it opens.

“It really feels like it’s really going to happen,” she said. “We want it to be a nice, relaxing place to come to.

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“We’re starting to have quite a lot of interest and I think it’s about getting people to come and talk to us about the sort of things they might like to use it for.

“It could be anything from a farmers’ market or an exhibition, or it can be a concert or a conference.”

The money raised to refurbish the church has been provided by several different organisations, including Suffolk Mind and the Churches Conservation Trust themselves.

The Heritage Lottery Fund and Heritage England have also made cash available to support the project.

Describing what the church will look like after the work, Ms Gray said: “In the nave of the church there’s nothing going to be fixed apart from the café, and the tables and chairs can be cleared away.

“Otherwise it’s a really open space with very flexible lighting and electrics.

“It won’t be subdivided at all; the rooms will be in the new extension but the mezzanine will have a meeting room on it and we will have an office space up where they ring the bells.”

For more information visit, follow @quayplace on Twitter or call 01473 569696.

There will be more open days on August 15 and September 12, both between 11am and 2pm.

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