Students Help Restore Medieval Church in Ipswich

  |  Published: Mar 24th 2014

Bucks UTC students have been putting their IT and construction skills to use as part of a project by the Churches Conservation Trust (CCT), to restore The Church of St Mary- at- the- Quay, Ipswich.  The Grade II* listed church is now under the CCT’s ownership and through a partnership with the charity Suffolk Mind, Heritage Lottery Funding is allowing refurbishment into a heritage and well-being centre.

Before construction work begins, the church must be excavated of burials.  Bucks UTC’s IT students will work with the UTC’s employer partner Esri UK’s software, to map the bones of skeletons that were excavated, and use it to trace ancestors by data mapping.  There were around 200 burials in the church – so far five fully intact skeletons have been dug up including one of a child aged around two years.  The remains are gathered and stored respectfully to receive Christian reburial in an appropriate location once work is complete.

Bucks UTC’s Construction students are learning about the planning and building process, and under-pinning to stop moisture in the plaster due to tidal water flooding.  There is currently nowhere for the tidal water from the nearby dock area to evaporate other than through the 15th century nave columns.

The students will continue to visit the church as part on their ongoing employer project work.

Peter Aiers, Director, South East, of the CCT commented:  “We are delighted that Bucks UTC students are involved with this project.   This vital work will ensure that St Mary’s has a sustainable future and that the building will remain open for many years to come. In addition, the skills learnt by the students will be invaluable in helping them to understand the importance of the heritage construction sector.

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