Quay Place, Ipswich

Church of St Mary-at-the-Quay, Ipswich, Suffolk

A Wellbeing Heritage Centre for the people of Ipswich

The Churches Conservation Trust and Suffolk Mind are working together on an innovative project to create a wellbeing heritage centre within the beautiful medieval church of St Mary-at-the-Quay in Ipswich.

Phase Two of capital work on St Mary's is under way

St Mary-at-the-Quay, having stood largely unused since the Second World War, is now in the second phase of its transformation into Quay Place - a wellbeing heritage centre.

The capital works have been spilt into two phases, both of which are being delivered by Bakers of Danbury.  Phase 1 ran from April to September 2014 and concentrated on carrying out repairs on the timber hammer beam roof and parapet. 

Phase 2 commence in January 2015 and will consist of repairing the rest of the historical fabric, and the construction of the new build work in the church and the two storey extension.  

You can view the step by step progress of the work on site by visiting the Quay Place facebook page or  the cctregeneration tumblr page

Technical events and more

Where possible, the CCT try to incorporate learning and education about our buildings and the crafts used to create them. 

For phase two, there is a series of FREE technical events, exploring different elements of working on a historic building, using the church as a live case study.  These include inserting a breathable floor in a historic building, replacing render and buiding on a burial site.

The latest event, specific to the church was the repair to the stone columns, where attendees were shown the conservation technique of physical damp proof coursing, to stop anymore trapped moisture whickering up the columns.

A video of this process can be found using this link: https://vimeo.com/126355342

These events are a rare opportunity for heritage professional, construction professionals and interested members of the public to witness the workings on a Grade II* medieval building first hand.

To find out more about these events and to book on, please visit: http://quayplace.eventbrite.co.uk

There will also be community open days on site throughout the year, giving the community a chance to learn about the work on site and about what the new centre will have in store!   Keep an eye on the CCT event page, and the Quay Place website for dates and details.

These events follow on from the success of phase one where a series of scaffold tours took place for members of the public leanrt about the repair work on site, got up close to the medieval roof carvings and attend a seminar on caring for historic buildings.

A successful archeaology open day was also held on site where archaeologists talked to visitors about what they had uncovered in the churchyard, whilst excavating the area of the external extention.

A special tour was given for construction students from the Buckinghamshire University Technical College who also assisted in producing hand outs for the open days.

Sue Owen, DCMS Permanent Secretary visited the site on 25th July, and showed great support and enthusiasm for the project.

The plan

We have been awarded £3.6 million of Heritage Lottery Fund money so we can build a modern extension to the church which will house complementary therapies, performance and business spaces.

We will also be putting a light modern touch to the interior which will create a fantastic venue for events or a place to enjoy your morning coffee.

Suffolk Mind’s commitment to this project will link the idea of well being with our historic environment to create a long term future for a building which is suffering the ravages of age. The huge investment of Suffolk Mind and this project can allow the Trust to conserve the nave columns and lay a new floor to keep the building safe for the future.

This project is also supported by the European Regional Development Fund from the EU’s INTERREG IV A 2 Mers Seas Zeeën Cross-border Cooperation Programme, as part of the Heritage Recycle project.

Suffolk Mind

Suffolk Mind, established in 1991, is an independent, flexible, not-for-profit charity working collaboratively with service users and other partners.

It provides a comprehensive range of services catering for a wide spectrum of mental health needs and for the well-being of people. This includes a range of residential services and community resource centres in rural and urban areas of Suffolk.

Suffolk Mind promotes service user empowerment linked to services that encourage self-confidence, self-determination, and building self-esteem.

Learn more about their work

The Church of St Mary at Quay

Built in the 1450s, St Mary at Quay is one of twelve medieval churches in Ipswich. It is also one of three mariners’ churches in the old dockland area, once the home of Ipswich’s thriving merchant community, a source of wealth and prosperity for the city - as the decoration and carving in the spectacular double hammerbeam roof inside the church was intended to reflect.

Since 2003 the surrounding area has seen a transformation - the former docks and warehousing areas adjacent have been redeveloped for housing and new uses. There are new communities of residents and St Mary's has remained amongst this sea of change...but only just.

Without significant intervention work now, Victorian innovation in concrete will determine a crumbling fate for the building. A concrete floor laid to stop tidal water flooding the building through the floor has actually had a worse effect - there is nowhere for the tidal water from the nearby dock area to evaporate other than through the 15th century nave columns. As the water evaporates, salts from the water wick up the columns and cause the stone to crumble. We need to get the concrete floor up, and soon!


We are grateful to the following organisations who have supported us:



The Quay Place project is supported by the European Regional Development Fund from the EU’s INTERREG IV A 2 Mers Seas Zeeën Cross-border Cooperation Programme.