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St Mary le Tower Church, in Tower Street, Ipswich, to be redesignated a minster





A prominent town church is to be redesignated a minster in recognition of its role in the community.

St Mary le Tower, in Tower Street, Ipswich, will gain its new status next year, the Rt Rev Martin Seeley, Bishop of St Edmunsbury and Ipswich, announced.

The minster designation recognises the church, which has been at the heart of Ipswich for more than 1,000 years, as a place of significance, reflecting its vital spiritual and community role.

Martin Seeley, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, has announced that St Mary le Tower Church, in Tower Street, Ipswich, will become a Minster. Picture: Keith Mindham
Martin Seeley, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, has announced that St Mary le Tower Church, in Tower Street, Ipswich, will become a Minster. Picture: Keith Mindham

The rarely granted award – only 15 churches in the Church of England have been made a minster in the last three decades – will coincide with the 825th anniversary of Ipswich being granted its Royal Charter by King John.

Bishop Martin said: ‘‘I am hugely grateful to all those from across Ipswich and the wider county for the many considered contributions I have received to assist me in this decision.

‘‘Throughout the consultation process there was a clear sense of the growing vocation of St Mary le Tower to serve the civic and community life of the town and respond to the spiritual and social needs of those living and working in the town centre.

Tom Mumford, Revered of St Mary le Tower Church, in Tower Street, Ipswich, said his church wants to be a place the people of Ipswich know as a place of care and support. Picture: Paul Nixon
Tom Mumford, Revered of St Mary le Tower Church, in Tower Street, Ipswich, said his church wants to be a place the people of Ipswich know as a place of care and support. Picture: Paul Nixon

“The creation of Ipswich Minster is a sign of the continued commitment to strengthen the ties between the church and our civic and community partners. In conferring this additional designation, my hope is that their vision will be energised.”

The Bishop said he and his community would now focus on the ‘minster-making’ process.

The announcement followed months of consultation to assess whether St Mary le Tower should receive the designation.

It is recognised as the civic church for the town, hosting important services as well as having a reputation as a place that responds to the needs of those requiring support within the community.

The Rev Tom Mumford, vicar of St Mary le Tower, said: “We are delighted civic leaders made this request and that Bishop Martin granted approval.

‘‘Our mission is to be a welcoming, inclusive and open church offering peace and sanctuary to the people of Ipswich.

“We want to be a place the people of Ipswich know as their home, a place of care and support.

St Mary le Tower was lit up blue at the weekend in support of Ipswich Town’s promotion push.

There are 31 minsters across the country.

Cllr Lynne Mortimer, Mayor of Ipswich, said: “This recognition is a testament to the rich heritage and spiritual significance of St Mary le Tower to the town.

“This designation not only honours our past but also brightens our future.”