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'More beautiful than we remembered'

Tuesday 07 January 2020

'More beautiful than we remembered' - majestic Ipswich chapel finally reopens after three-year closure.

A "majestic" Ipswich chapel forced to close for three years when it fell into disrepair has finally been brought back to life after a major revamp, writes Andrew Papworth, Ipswich Star.

The building at St Joseph's College in Ipswich has been a much-loved part of the school since 1967, hosting memorable assemblies, prizegiving ceremonies, concerts and worship for half a century.

But the historic structure - which had become "the heart of St Joseph's" - was regrettably closed in February 2017 after rain damage took its toll on the dramatic 1960s design.

The school admitted the news "came as a blow".

However, determined to restore the site, a major fundraising campaign was launched to pay for the £750,000 repair and refurbishment.

And now the breath-taking chapel has not only been restored to its former glory, but enhanced and improved - with new lighting and audio-visual equipment to help improve performances.

It was finally unveiled to eagerly awaiting guests on Saturday, December 14, where it was blessed by the Bishop of East Anglia, the Right Rev Alan Hopes.

The event included representatives from the Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and Sikh communities at its opening, reflecting St Joseph College's inclusive ethics.

It has already been used for a standing-room-only candlelit carol service and the independent school's end of term assembly.

Danielle Clarke, principal of St Joseph's College, said: "Three years' evaluation, repair and upgrading, together with tireless fundraising and wonderful generosity from the St Joseph's College community and beyond, have given us back 'the heart of St Joseph's', even more beautiful than we remembered.

"We are immensely grateful to all who have helped make this happen."

St Joseph's College has described the upgrade as a "revelation", with the school praising Ipswich contractor Elliston Steady and Hawes for "enhancing what was already a majestic space".

JP Chick worked on the site as structural engineer, while JSH carried out the building services' design.