For the first time in over a hundred years, the eight bells of the Church of St Margaret are being taken out of the tower as part of the Heritage Project. On the 15 and 16 May the bells were lowered to the ground to be taken away for refurbishment or recasting.
Every week for the past 15 years, octogenarian John Girt has manually wound up the clock of St Margaret. On 30 April he wound it for the last time and now anyone glancing up to check the time as they walk down Soane Street will find the clock has stopped. In fact, not only has it stopped, but, as part of a larger Heritage Lottery funded project, the clock mechanism has been taken away for repair and overhaul. When it returns in October it will be fitted with an electric winder and auto-regulator so it will be one of the most accurate tower clocks in Ipswich.
However the big question was: what time should the hands be set to whilst the clock was stopped? Convention would often dictate 12 o'clock. However, St Margaret's decided there could only be one time for a stopped church clock. They therefore persuaded David Bearcroft, local horologist, to leave the hands set at ten to three, to echo the war poet Rupert Brooke's famous 1912 poem The Old Vicarage, Grantchester, with its memorable last lines:-
‘Stands the church clock at ten to three?
And is there honey still for tea?'