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The only substantial remains of a medieval community's foundation in Ipswich are those of the church of the Dominicans, the Blackfriars, whose Friary of the Blessed Virgin lay to the south of Tacket Street.
Standing in the west doorway of the church, looking east. A nave altar stands in front of the nearest lamp post. To the left of it is the chancel step, and the resonance chambers of the choir. To the right of it is the arcade of the chapter house wall. The high altar stood where the far lamp post is. All this is now a public recreation area.
The Blackfriars had been founded by St Dominic, 47 years earlier, and were intended as an order of preachers, who tried to live 'the apostolic life' in community with each other.
St Dominic taught that those who took a vow of poverty were freed from the care of property to travel and to preach, as described in the Gospels and the Act of the Apostles.
The Blackfriars community was the first of the three Friaries to be established, in 1263. It expanded rapidly; within 15 years, there were 50 members, out of 20,000 worldwide, a number that would not be reduced until the Black Death in the late 1340s.
It gradually took over the fallow land that lay to the south and east, including part of the town wall and ditch, and new buildings were erected. Unlike the Priories, the Friars were not allowed to own land beyond their immediate premises.
Instead, they relied on charitable donations for their upkeep. This might have been their salvation; but it proved to be their downfall, as we shall see.
Their church was dedicated to Mary. It had substantial aisles to north and south, and a choir separated nave and chancel, in the cathedral manner. There was probably a central tower, and early reports of a spired church seem to refer to this one. The chancel had a chapel to the south, probably constructed after a bequest by the Dukes of Suffolk. Between this chapel and the nave were the chapter house and the sacristy.
pole hand panorama