MuseumSt Mary's at the Quay, Ipswich, Suffolk IP4 1BU

Only in English

Museum info

About the museum

St Mary at the Quay is one of 12 medieval churches in Ipswich and is situated in the heart of the town's dockland.  In the Middle Ages, this area was the home of prosperous merchants.  Four of the town's ancient churches are dedicated in honour of the Mother of Our Lord; St Mary le Tower, St Mary at the Elms, St Mary at Stoke and St Mary at the Quay.  The last because of its close proximity to the river and the busy port.  Yet the church stands in Key Street, its vane displays a large key and it has often been called 'the Key Church'.  The term is not however a total misnomer, because the quay was known as the 'Kay' in 1306 and it is not unnatural that the old word and its Danish equivalent 'Kaai' should develop into 'Key'.

Within the parish was an important part of the medieval Port of Ipswich, including the Common Quay, the Customs House and the homes of wealthy merchants who traded from the port, including Henry Tooley, whose ship the Mary Walsingham, sometimes journeyed to Iceland. William Sabyn, who had a great 100 ton ship and Thomas Pownder, who marked each of his bales of cloth with a 'T' and two crosses.  Much of the northern part of the parish was occupied by the Blackfriars monastery.  After its dissolution in 1538, over time its grounds and buildings served a variety of important and useful purposes, including Christ' Hospital for poor and destitute people, the Bridewell Prison, the Town Library, the Shire Hall and the Grammar School.  In the south west part, near Foundation Street, was Henry Tooley's Foundation, his almshouses, which had a close association with their parish church.

St Mary at the Quay lies next to Ipswich's regenerated quayside and has been a unique regeneration project which came about through a ground breaking partnership between the Churches Conservation Trust and Suffolk Mind.  

Plan your visit

  • Iceni Project, 64-70, Foundation Street, Stoke, Ipswich, Suffolk, England, IP4 1BN, United Kingdom


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