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Funeral directors take over former Old Bell Inn pub in Ipswich

PUBLISHED: 10:53 20 March 2017 | UPDATED: 12:28 20 March 2017

Funeral arranger Bob Clover outside the refurbished Old Bell Inn, Ipswich

Funeral arranger Bob Clover outside the refurbished Old Bell Inn, Ipswich


One of Ipswich’s most historic timber-framed buildings, close to the Waterfront, has been lovingly restored for use as a funeral home.

The former historic pub has been restored and is now a new funeral businessThe former historic pub has been restored and is now a new funeral business

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.”


  • new meaning to the old saying "Dying for a pint",

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    Mike Gillingham

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • It's not the cough that carries you off but the coffin they carry you off in.

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    The original Victor Meldrew

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • OK FreedomF you've started it: It will so popular that people will soon be dying to get in there. And the next joke about corpses please!

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    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • Is the bar still open? Bottle of whisky, game of darts and a chinwag, possibly a pie and I'll be ready for a good kip.

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    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • Well now it will be a case of 'For whom the Bell tolls' ?...

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    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • Located at the busy waterfront area, firstly the waterfront area is not something to be proud of. From the customs house to Stoke bridge is an absolute eyesore, not in keeping at all with a maritime historic doc. The Bell is on the wrong side of the river and the wrong side of Stoke street to be even associated with your lovely water front. It is near the lovely giant block of flats...

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    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • I never went in the Old Bell Inn, but was once told that it was the only bar in town from which the Town Hall clock could be seen.

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    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • Excellent, I am going to book myself in! I was brought up around there and can remember when it was in use as a pub. In the days when off-course betting was illegal they used to run a clandestine bookmaking service. I can remember taking in the odd bet tightly wrapped in a bit of paper for my parents and their friends on the big race days like the derby and National. Really great to see an old building like that being put to good use.

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    Monday, March 20, 2017

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