St Stephen’s Is the smallest of the remaining medieval churches in Ipswich. It was made redundant in 1978 and remained out of use for a number of years. In 1994 it was restored and became the new home for the Tourist Information Centre. The tourist information centre closed in March 2020 and is currently looking for a new tenant.
A church of St Stephen is mentioned in Domesday, but the current building appears to date from the 14th and 15th centuries. Archaeological work done in the 1980s suggested that the former church did not sit in exactly the same place as the current building. Shallow excavations in the nave found the foundations of a wall, running east-west about four feet north of the arcade of the south aisle. The nave of the Norman church may have extended south from that wall, across the present south aisle, and the tall south porch may still contain the core of the original tower.
The present building appears all to be in the late Perpendicular and Tudor styles; what we see was built in the 15th and 16th centuries.
The south side of the church has an unusual feature on the third buttress from the east. This was once the private entrance to the Rush chapel. The stonework above the doorway is much eroded, but you may be able to make out the letter T. In 1810 D E Davey described the stonework as showing the Rush coat of arms - ‘on a fesse between 3 courses currant, 3 roundels’. He noted ‘two angels as supporters’ and ‘crest a horses head’.
Many of the buildings surrounding the churchyard are modern the lane between the churchyard and Upper Brook Street existed before 1610 as it appears on Speed’s map of that date.