Ipswich church's 1,000-year-old door is third oldest in UK

Father John Thackray has been the parish priest of St Mary at the Elms in Ipswich for five years

Father John Thackray has been the parish priest of St Mary at the Elms in Ipswich for five years - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

An Ipswich church has been informed one of its doors has been in use for nearly 1,000 years, making it the third oldest door in the UK.

Father John Thackary has been the parish priest of St Mary at the Elms Church for five years, but like everyone else had no idea the history the inner door to the building possessed.

The door is thought to have been used for nearly one thousand years

The door is thought to have been used for nearly 1,000 years - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

"The news came as a bit of a shock, a pleasant surprise, to me over the weekend," he said. 

"I worked for many years as a school chaplain at King's School in Canterbury which is the oldest in the country — possibly the world — which was founded in 597AD, and then King's School Rochester which is the second oldest founded in 604AD.

"It's nice to find out about the door as that makes it three — and of course the building behind our church, the cottage, is the oldest inhabited building in Ipswich."

St Mary at the Elms Church is in Elm Street, around the corner from the Black Horse pub

St Mary at the Elms Church is in Elm Street, around the corner from the Black Horse pub - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Founder of the British Pilgrimage Trust, William Parsons, shared the historic significance of the door on Twitter on Friday, March 12.

He posted a picture of the door and said: "England’s third oldest door - St Mary Elms in Ipswich. In continuous use for almost 1,000 years. 

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"We get used to hearing this sort of number in the UK, but 1,000 years of the same stone, wood and iron allowing and barring access is deeply special, even for old England."

The church is open from noon to 2pm each day for worship and Fr Thackary said all are welcome to visit the door, in line with current coronavirus restrictions.

A fundraiser was recently launched for repairs to the St Mary Elms cottage, built in the 1470s.

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