HLF funding has enabled this oral history project which aims to capture and save the personal memories of members of the public with connections to the Church of St Clement (between Fore Street, Star Lane and Grimwade Street) before it ceased to be a place of worship in the early 1970s. The stories gathered will help to illustrate the history of the church and, when it becomes the Ipswich Arts Centre, those stories will help keep the connection to the past.

Ipswich Arts Centre (IAC) have appointed a Project Manager, Nicola Brand, who is currently looking for volunteers to help with the project. There is a variety of  roles available which will appeal to all ages and all levels of experience; full training will be given. The importance of capturing memories and experiences through oral history (sound recordings or written) is well recognised and will help to link the long, rich past of ‘The Sailors’ Church’ (the last of the medieval churches in the town to find a new role) with its new life as an arts space, venue and cultural centre.

The project had a presence at Felixstowe Carnival, a stall was run during Maritime Ipswich, St Clement was opened for the Ride & Stride day (September 8) and on Heritage Open Days (September 15 and 16).

It’s been a busy time at the church. St Clement is close to the university, college, historic waterfront, Brickmakers Wood project and the forthcoming Ipswich branch of the Suffolk Record Office, The Hold, as well as Fore Street, one of our oldest thoroughfares. As the ‘hidden gem’ of Ipswich, screened by its lofty London plane trees and bordered by a busy, traffic-filled road it retains its churchyard, unlike its fellow dockland churches.

Prompted by Anthony Cobbold of the Cobbold Family History Trust (St Clement is also ‘The Cobbold Church’, of course), The Ipswich Society researched and published a brand new guide booklet which was launched at the Ipswich Historic Churches Trust AGM on 28 June. This occasion also marked the ‘unveiling’ of the new, electronic carillon which takes over from the original ‘pianola-roll’ version to play hymn tunes on high days and holidays. Anybody wandering in the vicinity of St Clement in the last few months will have noticed that the refurbished church clock now strikes the quarters and hours. The new guidebook costs £2.00 per copy from the TIC and The Ipswich Institute.

Behind the scenes the Ipswich Arts Centre volunteers are working very hard and with great enthusiasm to achieve the first major step forward towards the church opening more frequently. As ever, they welcome support of any kind.

Do tell your friends and family about the St Clement oral history project.




Nicola Brand: 07930 019823

Email: iacmemories@gmail.com