June 20 2013 Latest news:
By Paul Geater
Thursday, February 14, 2013
EXPERTS are hopeful that Tuesday’s crash at Curson House on St Nicholas’ Street has not caused serious structural damage to the historic building.
CURSON Lodge was built in 1472 as an annex to Curson House which was on the opposite side of the road – it was used to put up guests staying with the Curson family.
Ipswich historian Dr John Blatchly said the lodge had an important role during separate royal visits by Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon to visit the Ipswich shrine in Lady Lane.
Dr Blatchly said: “The queen came in 1517, the year after the miracle was reported in Lady Lane, and the king visited Ipswich in 1522.
“They both stayed at Curson House, which was taken over by their retinue. The Curson family’s own staff would have had to move into the lodge during the visits – the king and queen did not travel light!”
The building is opposite the childhood home of Thomas Wolsey which is on the site now occupied by Ensors. Wolsey was born next to St Mary at Elms before the family moved to St Nicholas’ Street.
Dr Blatchly added: “Curson Lodge is very important for the town. I was there today and I’m very relieved the damage does not seem to be as bad as first feared.”
But it has revealed a fascinating insight into part of the history of the 540-year-old building, a document about shopfitting work in 1902!
The wooden support at the front of Curson House in St Nicholas’ Street was knocked down after a car ploughed into it on Tuesday night – but because of changes during the building’s restoration a decade ago, the pillar no longer carries all the weight at the front of the building and so experts believe the structure is not at risk.
And a fascinating insight into the history of the building was revealed when Star photographer Lucy Taylor was taking pictures of the damage and spotted a broken old pharmacy bottle with paper inside.
It turned out to be a business card for the Wolsey Pharmacy, which occupied the store until the early 1970s.
There was a pharmacy on the site from the 1850s, but in 1902 it was bought by George Nelson Edwards who had it refitted.
The bottle contained a card with picture of the pharmacy from the 1890s, a business card for the new owner, and a document showing who had carried out the work – the former owner’s name is crossed out and Mr Edwards’ name is added in.
After the pharmacy closed the building became an antiques shop, but it was empty for several years until it was restored by the Ipswich Buildings Preservation Trust in a major work which was completed in 2007.
Since then it has been a boutique, but has been empty for the last few months.
Owner Francis Street is about to sell the building and said it was lucky the car had only hit one of the supports.
He said: “It actually ended up between the other two supports. We will need to get everything checked by experts but we don’t think the damage is too serious.”
Yesterday planning permission was granted for the building to be converted into a private clinic for people seeking medication before travelling abroad.
Mr Street said he hoped the accident would not affect the handover of the building – he had been due to exchange contracts on the sale yesterday, just hours after the accident.
It is understood the car was being driven by a 22-year-old woman. Police said the driver was not arrested after the incident – although there could be further checks.