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Church of St Thomas, Ipswich

Description: Church of St Thomas

Grade: II
Date Listed: 24 June 2011
English Heritage Building ID: 1400120

OS Grid Reference: TM1455545905
OS Grid Coordinates: 614555, 245904
Latitude/Longitude: 52.0699, 1.1291

Locality: Ipswich
Local Authority: Ipswich Borough Council
County: Suffolk
Country: England
Postcode: IP1 4EX

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Listing Text


An Anglican church of 1937 designed in the Perpendicular tradition by N F Cachemaille-Day

Reason for Listing

The Church of St Thomas, Bramford Lane, Ipswich, Suffolk is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
ARCHITECTURE - It displays an accomplished architectural design that uses modern materials and construction techniques to interpret traditional forms in a sophisticated and highly individual manner.
DESIGNER - It was designed by Nugent Francis Cachemaille-Day, one of the most prolific and influential church architects of the C20 and a leading figure in the development of the Liturgical Movement in Britain.
MATERIALS - A well-chosen palette of material gives the building sharp detailing, a crisp expression, and neatly refers to the vernacular traditions of the region.
INTERIOR - The church has a spacious, light and uncluttered interior with an elegant, sculptural use of contcrete and contrasting materials. Many contemporary fittings and fixtures remain.
HISTORY - It is an early example in Britain of experimentation of liturgical ideas, which became popular in church architecture during the post-war years.


The building of St Thomas's church, by the architect Nugent Francis Cachemaille-Day (1896-1976), started in 1937, to replace a temporary `tin tabernacle` of 1902. The building contractor was Mr A. S Green, a local builder.
Cachemaille-Day first worked with Loius De Soissons on the development of Welwyn Garden City and later became chief assistant to H.S Goodhart-Rendel before establishing his own practice in 1935. While he had always had a varied practice in both commercial and domestic commissions, and as a consultant architect on many projects, it was as a church architect that Cachemaille-Day became best known. His exposure to new continental developments in church design, from his travels in Europe during the early 1930s, and an interest in the ideas of the Liturgical Movement that had emerged at the end of World War One, were to influence his work most.

St Thomas's church was completed in 1938 and consecrated in April of the same year. A new church room was added to the north-east corner in the late 1950s and a new church hall opened next door in 1967. A new vicarage was built to the south of the church in 1983.


The building has a rectangular plan.

The main materials are brick, laid in English bond, with sections of knapped flint on the walls and west gable. The roof is covered with plain tiles.

The church comprises a nave with pitched roof; north and south aisles that have flat roofs; a square tower at the south-east corner; and transept with pitched roof at the north-east corner. The entrance porch at the south-west corner is faced with flint and has brick quoins and a straight, brick parapet. It has a double door with a three-centred arch head and a simple brick and concrete surround. The south aisle has a series of four windows that have three-centred arch heads, brick mullions and plain, leaded lights. The north elevation has three windows to the nave, identical to those on the south, and a door to the former boiler room. There is also a larger arched window to the north gable of the transept and a round-arched door in the west side of the transept.

There is a large three-centred arch window in the west end, and single, small, square windows either side to each aisle. The brick chimney to the former boiler room (converted to toilets)remains in situ at the north-west corner of the nave.

The tower has four stages, and is predominantly brick with small areas of flint infill around the upper level windows. It has four square turrets at each corner that have square openings in each face and a brick balustrade inbetween. There is a large arched window in the south side of the tower at the lower stage, repeating the aisle window design. Above this are double, round-arched windows, that are divided by moulded brick mullions, to the second and third stages on all four sides of the tower. String courses denote the different stages of the tower. The east elevation has a small, single-storey, flat-roofed vestry attached to the tower, and a single-storey church room with a flat roof wraps around the nave's west end.

Entrance to the church is via the spacious porch at the south-west corner. It is lit by a square window on its west side, and has a stone that is carved with the name of the architect and the contractor. The nave and transepts have plain, barrel-vaulted ceilings of reinforced concrete that form a groin vault at their intersection. A large metal cross is suspended from the boss above the altar. Behind the altar is a plain wall of dark grey brick that is arranged in a saw-tooth pattern and is punched with narrow lancet windows. The altar has a plain, timber rail with brick infill panels to its curved corners.
There is a clerestory to the nave with small, square, mullioned windows, and there are arcades either side of the nave, with wide arches that echo the shape of the windows. The wide aisles are brightly lit by the large arched windows, and feature the Stations of the Cross. The interior is finished in smooth, white render and has no moulding or surface decoration.

There is an organ in the south transept, and a plain, timber pulpit, at the south-east corner of the nave. A plain hexagonal, stone font with a decorative timber cover is located in the west end, and there are various pieces of furniture throughout the church, including screens, chairs and choir stalls, much of which is contemporary with the church. The tower has three internal floors each with a single, square room with staircase to the levels above or below. The rooms are plain and do not contain any features of interest.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.