Former Ipswich headmaster, author and historian John Blatchly dies at the age of 82

John Blatchly in his study. He wrote the history of Ipswich School which is titled, A Famous Antient

John Blatchly in his study. He wrote the history of Ipswich School which is titled, A Famous Antient Seed Plot of Learning. - Credit: Archant

Dr John Blatchly MBE, who has died aged 82, was an educator, scientist, historian, author, musician and passionate advocate for the heritage of churches, for the town of Ipswich and the county of Suffolk.

He was a former headmaster of Ipswich School.

Today, current headmaster Nicholas Weaver said: “We were very saddened to hear the news of Dr Blatchly’s death. He was headmaster at Ipswich School from 1972 to 1993, and more recently was our Archivist Emeritus. He made a huge contribution to Ipswich School, and he will be much missed by the whole school community.

“In his 21 years here as headmaster, he oversaw new buildings, two royal visits and the introduction of the first girls to study at Ipswich School, amongst many other things. His association with the school continued into his retirement, as he put his love of history to good use as our Archivist; organising school artefacts and writing a very thorough history of the school, A Famous Antient Seed-Plot of Learning.

“His enthusiasm for Ipswich School, for Ipswich and for Suffolk was infectious and his depth of knowledge was phenomenal. Our thoughts and prayers are with all his family and friends at this time.”

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Dr Blatchly was at the vanguard of the fundraising campaign to have a statue of Ipswich-born Cardinal Sir Thomas Wolsey, England’s Lord Chancellor during the reign of Henry VIII made for the town. The statue now stands on Curson Plain, St Peter’s Street, a few paces from Wolsey’s birthplace.

Dr Blatchly was also a prime mover in the restoration of the St Lawrence Church bells, the oldest remaining ring of bells in the world which would, he said, have been heard by the young Thomas Wolsey just as we hear them today.

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He was Honorary Wolsey Professor and visiting history professor at University Campus Suffolk; a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and, in 2006, was awarded MBE for his services to heritage.

A prolific researcher and writer, Dr Blatchly also wrote and also collaborated on a number of books on historical subjects including, most recently, Miracles in Lady Lane, co-written with Diarmaid MacCulloch.

Dr Blatchly, who died after a short illness, is survived by his wife Pam, daughter Janet and son Mark.

We will pay further tribute to the life and work of Dr John Blatchly on Saturday, September 12.

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