St Mary at Stoke Church, Stoke Street IP2 8DA
A Grade I listed Anglican church in the Old Stoke area of Ipswich, the church stands in a prominent position near the foot of a ridge, just south west of Stoke Bridge and the town centre.
A church has existed on this site since the 10th Century and is probably one of the St Marys mentioned in the Domesday Book.
Parts of the present medieval church date from the 14th century, which, until the railway arrived in 1846, served the small hamlet of Stoke, with its single aisle and box pews offering 100 seats.
The building, as seen today, is made up of the small medieval church and a large Victorian extension designed by William Butterfield in 1872. An internationally acclaimed architect of the Victorian era. He designed hundreds of notable buildings; St Mary’s was the only one in Ipswich to receive his Midas touch.
Built in knapped flint and freestone with slate roofs and pierced 19th century ridge tiles to the nave and chancel, brick parapet to tower. The nave and chancel are decorated with stone bands and some chequerboard decoration in the gables and the porch has flushwork decoration.
Inside, is plastered and painted. The tower arch has been blocked by a later screen, but its west face shows a double-chamfered arch. A simple moulded doorway into the vestry is said to be the doorway to the former rood loft stairs, preserved when the vestry was built. The north aisle preserves a very fine hammerbeam roof with 2 tiers of purlins, the hammerbeams carved with figures holding shields depicting the symbols of the passion. An engraving of 1854 shows that the heads of the figures were lost, and the existing heads are later replacements.
A fine 14th to 15th century church and a 19th century extension.
[Sources: John Barbrook, St Mary at Stoke Church and Historic England]