It is perhaps not generally known that St Mary at Stoke is, in addition to being one of the only two Grade I Listed churches in the town, also the only one which was privileged to have benefited from the work of William Butterfield. He was an outstanding architect who designed many exceptional public buildings, schools and Oxford colleges, in addition to countless church and cathedral masterpieces - both in this country and across the world. In 1870 he was commissioned to design and build a very large extension for St Mary's which would accommodate the soaring population brought about by the arrival of the railway in the parish and the industry which followed.
Having not originally been regarded as part of Ipswich, Stoke had a character all of its own and from the earliest times, crossing the river and 'going over Stoke' was viewed as a journey into a different community. St Mary's standing aloof for over a thousand years on Stoke Hill is now entering a new phase with the centre of population of Ipswich moving steadily towards it as the Waterfront developments take shape.
Throughout the summer the church will again be open to visitors on Thursday afternoons, 2-4pm when a guide will be on hand to show people around. The church is also participating in Heritage Open Days. It is anticipated that the Over Stoke History group will be staging a display of fascinating local archive material.