At the sign of the Barking lion...

Bishop's Chapel, Ipswich

At the sign of the Barking lion...

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The Bishop's Chapel

MDCCCCXXVII The Bishop's Chapel

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The Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich was created in 1914, with a cathedral at the former church of St James in Bury St Edmunds, and a Bishop's residence on Park Road, Ipswich. The house was given a chapel in 1927 to the design of architect and diocesan surveyor Henry Munro Cautley. It stands to the west of the house looking all of its date in that faintly oriental municipal gothic style so common in public buildings of the time. A tall bell turret on the north side contains a ship's bell and is inscribed with the date MCMXXVII. This was the same year as Cautley's great church of St Augustine of Hippo, but the Bishop's Chapel is more typical of Cautley's work with a prayerful simplicity and a craftsman's attention to detail. The sanctuary is lined with slightly austere gothic stonework similar to his design at Aldham. The furnishings are also typical of Cautley with castellated bench ends echoing the clouds of glory that 15th Century Suffolk angels often sat upon. The three light window in the sanctuary is by Christopher Webb, and depicts the risen Christ flanked by St Peter and St John.

angel with a shield of the Archdiocese of Canterbury (Christopher Webb, 1927) St Peter (Christopher Webb, 1927) Risen Christ (Christopher Webb, 1927) St John (Christopher Webb, 1927) Angel with a shield of the Diocese of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich (Christopher Webb, 1927)
Keys of St Peter (Christopher Webb, 1927) Feet of Christ (Christopher Webb, 1927) Eagle of St John (Christopher Webb, 1927)

Interestingly, Christopher Webb's glass in the east window is dedicated as a memorial to Anna Maria Flick. She was the mother of Cautley's wife Mabel, so presumably Cautley paid for the glass himself. Another plaque in Cautley's own lettering remembers Sir WIlliam and Lady Burton who bankrolled the chapel, although, as the plaque continues, the architect H Munro Cautley ARIBA gave his services. We might wish that Cautley's work is complete here, but unfortunately the sanctuary has been adapted in the modern style. The altar against the east wall has gone, to be replaced by a modern one further west. Cautley's altar rails have also gone, as well as the ornate stalls in the 1927 photograph at the bottom of this page. This probably all happened in the 1970s, which is a shame because it would have been a real period piece, and the chapel is now rarely used. The bishop's house next to the chapel was sold off by the Diocese as being too large, and is now a methodist care home.

Simon Knott, February 2020

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looking east looking west
Risen Christ flanked by St Peter and St John (Christopher Webb, 1927) The gift of Sir William and Lady Burton of Burstall Bishop's throne Cautley gothic
Anna Maria Flick

with best wishes for Christmas

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