Regeneration of St Mary at the Quay
Here you will find information about the restoration of Quay Place, a building which has stood on this spot for more than 500 years. As the fortunes of Ipswich have risen and fallen like the tides, the building, then known as the Church of St Mary at the Quay, has stood steadfastly here serving the community that surrounds it. Now, what survives is a fascinating snapshot of hundreds of years of skilled craftsmanship, saved for the people of Ipswich.
The 2016 regeneration is thanks to a partnership between Suffolk Mind and The Churches Conservation Trust, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund which awarded £3.6 million to repair the church. It’s now been converted into a Heritage and Wellbeing Centre, a venue for events, complementary therapies, performances, and business meetings.
Join us to explore the intriguing history of Quay place as the building embarks on a new chapter of its life as a unique space in the heart of Ipswich, offering a stunning and uplifting setting where people can meet, discover and connect with themselves and others.
Built in the 1450’s, but unused since the Second World War, The Grade II* listed church of St Mary at the Quay is one of three medieval churches in the old dockland area of Ipswich and an important landmark along the waterfront. The building has survived: plague, flooding, the bombs of the Second World War, planned demolition in the 1950s, and potential collapse more recently as salt water threatened to crumble its limestone columns to dust.
The church was vested with the Churches Conservation Trust in 1973, who faced the difficulty of managing a building that was at risk of structural collapse, following years of neglect and issues caused by rising damp. Although activities such as those run by Key Arts helped keep the church in use, it was not until the regeneration of the quayside area of Ipswich from the 2000s that the opportunity came to develop a new future for the site. In partnership with Suffolk Mind, the Churches Conservation Trust embarked on an ambitious project in 2008 to transform the building into an award winning unique heritage and wellbeing centre: Quay Place.
Building work was conducted in two phases under the direction of Molyneux Kerr Architects.
Phase 1 of ‘Quay Place’ ran from April to September 2014 and concentrated on carrying out repairs to the roof and parapet.
Phase 2 ran from January 2015 to September 2016 and involved repairing the rest of the historic fabric, including the nave columns, laying a breathable floor, with the insertion of new infrastructure and also construction of the two-storey extension.
The main contractor was Bakers of Danbury and the stated aim for the project was to “link the idea of well-being with our historic environment to create a long term future for a building suffering the ravages of age”.
Quay Place now stands as the result of a £5.1m scheme which has been eight years in the making: a testament to the commitment of all those involved.
Community participation was a key element of the project. During construction, the church was used as a living classroom, with technical days, work experience opportunities for students, and general open days with the contractors, Bakers of Danbury. The wonderful interpretations in the building – the rope and knot board, stunning tables, beautiful A-Z books, the dock model and timetable – were the result of collaboration between school children, a local artist, craftspeople and volunteers, to tell the story of the building, its people, and place in Ipswich’s history.
It is thanks to a large range of people, from The Churches Conservation Trust and Suffolk Mind project team, the design and construction team, to the creative craftsmen and residents of Ipswich that this extraordinary transformation has taken place.
On the 17th October 2016 an event was held to celebrate the completion of the work and to acknowledge those that had played a part in the regeneration of St Mary at the Quay. Quay Place opened its doors to the public on Tuesday 1st November 2016.
We hope you will visit in the future to see the result of all the amazing work that has taken place and to enjoy all that the building now offers to the community of Ipswich.
The project has been awarded a Civic Trust 2018 AABC Conservation award, RICS National 2017 (Highly Commended) and a RICS East of England 2017 award for Building Conservation. It also received a Highly Commended Award within the Ipswich Society Awards in 2016.