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Church of St Matthew, Ipswich

Description: Church of St Matthew

Grade: II*
Date Listed: 19 December 1951
English Heritage Building ID: 275548

OS Grid Reference: TM1581444723
OS Grid Coordinates: 615814, 244723
Latitude/Longitude: 52.0588, 1.1467

Locality: Ipswich
Local Authority: Ipswich Borough Council
County: Suffolk
Country: England
Postcode: IP1 2EX

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Listing Text

642/5/153 PORTMAN ROAD

Medieval in origin, with late C14 S arcade and C15 chancel, N arcade and W tower. The aisles were rebuilt in phases in the C19, including N aisle by G G Scott.

Flint rubble with stone dressings and small areas of brick repairs. Tiled and leaded roofs.

Aisled nave, chancel with S chapel and porch and N vestries, W tower.

The C19 extensions have made St Matthew's is one of the largest churches in Ipswich. The exterior is Perpendicular in style, but much of the work dates to the C19. Clerestory, late C15 or early C16, of two light openings in square heads. The C19 S aisle has tall C15-style windows and a fine, embattled parapet with flint flushwork decoration. The S chapel has C16-style windows with four-centred heads. The chancel has a large E window with C19 vertical tracery and one, round opening on the N side. Part of the medieval N chapel, with some brick repairs, is visible externally behind the C19 N chapel and vestry complex. The N aisle has an embattled parapet and Perpendicular style windows and an extremely large W window. The late C15 W tower is unbuttressed and has three stages. The lowest has a Perpendicular W door and W window, there are small windows in the second stage, and larger two-light openings in the bell stage. The upper part of the tower was rebuilt in 1884, and has an embattled parapet with open work tracery above a flushwork frieze.

The widening of the aisles has made the interior very spacious. The interior is painted and plastered. Four bay Perpendicular N and S arcades, the S arcade late C14 with paterae on the capitals, the N arcade C15. Perpendicular chancel arch with many small mouldings, and a tall tower arch with mouldings dying into the walls. To the N of the chancel arch is a squint into the chancel, and inside the squint a piscina and shelf, and to the S of the chancel arch is the door to the former rood stair. Two-bay C19 Perpendicular-style arcade from the chancel to the S chapel, and an extremely wide C19 arch from the S chapel to the aisle. There are two arches from the N aisle to the N organ chamber and chapel, and another from the chancel to the organ chamber. A fine, medieval arch-braced hammerbeam roof in the chancel with carved and gilded angels below the principals. C19 roofs in the nave and aisles with pierced tracery in the spandrels and above the tie beams.

An outstanding and well preserved C15 font carved with Marian scenes and the Baptism of Christ. Six panels from the early C16 former rood screen reused in the N aisle; these have figures of episcopal saints and lay donors. Piscina inside squint adjacent to chancel arch. Screens between chancel and S chapel are 1890s, made by John Groom to designs by John Corder. C19 pulpit carved by Groom, and the high altar and reredos also designed by Corder. Some good C19 glass, including chancel E window 1894 by Ward and Hughes, with other Ward and Hughes windows in the N aisle and S chapel. S chapel E window 1853 designed by Frank Howard and made by George Hedgeland. Also in the S aisle, a window by W H Constable of 1884. Monuments include two C17 wall tablets with kneeling figures, one for Anthony Penning, d. 1630 with reclining putti on the top. The other, for Richard Cock, d. 1629, has garlands and fruit swags.

The church is first recorded in the C12, and by the late middle ages it had N and S aisles, a W tower and a S porch. Much of the work was done in the late C14 and C15. The lay donor figures on the fragments of the early C16 rood screen probably represent members of the Guild of St Erasmus known to have existed in the church at that time. Located outside the medieval city walls, the church became the garrison church for Ipswich Barracks and was greatly enlarged in phases in the C19. The medieval S porch was demolished when the S aisle was widened in 1845. The S chapel and the small S porch to the chapel were built in 1860. The E wall was rebuilt in 1866. The N aisle was rebuilt and enlarged in 1876 to designs by the well-known church architect Sir George Gilbert Scott. In 1884, the upper part of the tower was rebuilt. The E wall was further altered in 1890.

Lambeth Palace Library, Incorporated Church Building Society, files 01757 and 08024
Mortlock, D P., The Guide to Suffolk Churches (2009), 276-7
Pevsner, N. and Radcliffe, E., Buildings of England: Suffolk (1974), 294

The Church of St Matthew, Ipswich, is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* For its overall architectural interest, and extensive late medieval fabric.
* For the quality of its fittings, in particular the font, chancel roof and monuments.
* For the successive phases (including the involvement of Sir George Gilbert Scott), showing the church's development over time.

This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.

Source: English Heritage

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