Hawthorn Drive, Chantry Estate, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP2 0QQ
Built in the late 1950s to serve a large post-war housing estate, St Marks is an A-framed church of distinctive design occupying a prominent corner site.
The Chantry estate is a large post-war housing development on the south side of Ipswich. In February 1959 planning permission was granted for a new Catholic church, to be built close to the retail and civic heart of the estate. The church opened on 30 May 1959. The architects were Wearing & Hastings of Norwich (Ipswich Borough Council planning website), and the church was originally served by the Franciscan friars based at East Bergholt. They took up residence in the parish in 1973, when the adjoining presbytery was presumably built, remaining until 1993, when care of the parish passed to diocesan priests. A parish hall was built alongside the church in 1999-2000.
The altar is to the geographical west, but this description assumes conventional liturgical orientation, i.e. as if the altar was to the east.
The church is of steel A-framed construction, with the framing in reinforced concrete where externally expressed (at the west end). The exterior is mainly clad with red brick, with the upper half of the front elevation treated as a large triangle of lozenge-shaped glazing. A large metal cross is fixed to the gable apex. The high-peaked roof is clad with clay pantiles down to the flat-roofed aisles and hall on either side. A photograph showing the building under construction appears to show a mainly glazed treatment of the wall over the sanctuary, but this feature does not survive; this wall is now externally clad with corrugated sheeting and the sanctuary with pebbledash.
The interior is bright and spacious, with the nave roof open to the ridge and ceiled. The main trusses are clad in timber. At the east end there is a narrow side-lit sanctuary recess. At the west end a former choir loft over the entrance narthex has been enclosed to form an upper room, rooflights of c.1990 supplementing the ample light from the west window. The nave is flanked by flat-roofed and side-lit circulation aisles, with doors on the south side leading to the later parish hall. The chequerboard linoleum floor is probably original. There are no furnishings of particular note, but the ceramic Stations of the Cross are of passing interest.
Architect: Wearing & Hastings
Original Date: 1959
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed