Funeral directors take over former Old Bell Inn pub in Ipswich
PUBLISHED: 10:53 20 March 2017 | UPDATED: 12:28 20 March 2017
One of Ipswich’s most historic timber-framed buildings, close to the Waterfront, has been lovingly restored for use as a funeral home.
Former pub the Old Bell Inn, believed to date from the 15th century, has just re-opened as the latest office of family-owned Suffolk and Essex funeral directors R Gwinnell and Sons.
Thought to have been the oldest licensed premises in the town until it closed in 2007, the pub’s name is understood to refer to the bell foundry based in the area before the inn was built in Stoke Street, close to Stoke Bridge,
It has a 19th century carved corner post featuring a bell and a cat-like creature.
The building has been the subject of a major restoration.
Funeral Director Matthew Gwinnell said the family business was proud to have rescued the rundown building, which is located in the busy Waterfront area, to provide a welcoming environment for families at a difficult and emotional time.
“It’s very important to us to provide the facilities and reassurance local families need when making arrangements for the care of their loved ones,” he said.
“Our new facility will provide a chapel of rest and the highest standards of care and service for families when arranging funerals, providing for all faiths and cultures and meeting the needs of the Ipswich and south Suffolk community.”
Matthew’s parents Roy and Christine Gwinnell opened their first funeral home in Manningtree in 1986, and are continuing to grow with offices in Clacton, Colchester, Dovercourt, Hadleigh and Thorpe-le-Soken.
The family also runs A.R. Clarke in Halstead.
Funeral arranger at the new Ipswich office, Bob Clover, has worked in the funeral profession in Ipswich and Suffolk for 15 years, joining Gwinnells almost four years ago and working at the company’s Hadleigh and Essex branches.
Bob said: “This is a lovely building, and it’s been nicely restored to provide very comfortable and homely surroundings where families can come in and talk to us.”
Local expert John Field, chairman of the conservation advisory panel, said: “It is very pleasing to see this important historical building come back into use. It is a very important location in relation to the regenerated docks area and the Waterfront.”