From Tudors to tattoos? Historic former pub could get new lease of life

The historic building, in St Stephen's Lane, could get a new lease of life as a tattoo parlour and

The historic building, in St Stephen's Lane, could get a new lease of life as a tattoo parlour and art studio if Ipswich planners give it the green light Picture: FENN WRIGHT - Credit: Archant

One of Ipswich’s oldest buildings – in the heart of the town centre – could be given a new lease of life as a tattoo parlour and art studio if new plans get the green light.

View of The Sun Inn in St Stephen's Lane, Ipswich
Picture: DAVID KINDRED'S ARCHIVE

View of The Sun Inn in St Stephen's Lane, Ipswich Picture: DAVID KINDRED'S ARCHIVE

The Grade II listed site, in St Stephen's Lane opposite the Buttermarket Shopping Centre, was once home to a collector's bookshop and antiques store. Dating back to the 1500s, the Tudor residence was converted into an inn in the early 18th century.

It has stood empty for the last three years - a costume shop is believed to have been the last business to occupy the building.

Now, the owners of the Abrakadavra Tattoo Art Club in Upper Orwell Street have submitted plans to change the use from retail to a tattoo parlour and art studio.

Applicant Jorge Becerra said: "If we get permission we'd really like to turn this into an art and tattoo studio. We're on Upper Orwell Street at the moment and we haven't got enough space to expand the art side of our business.


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"I'm friends with a lot of great artists and photographers and although it's early days at the moment, if we manage to get full planning permission we'd love to have painting workshops, perhaps some seminars that kind of thing.

"We're keen to move most of the business into this site if we get the permission, but we're not sure what we'll be doing with the Upper Orwell Street studio just yet."

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The change of use application has only just been submitted to Ipswich Borough Council and will need to go before council planners who will decide if it should go ahead.

With several centuries worth of history, the striking building - which is close to St Stephen's Church - was used extensively by drovers and cattle dealers in the 1700s, according to the Suffolk branch of Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).

The current Abrakadavra art studio in Upper Orwell Street, Ipswich Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

The current Abrakadavra art studio in Upper Orwell Street, Ipswich Picture: GOOGLE MAPS - Credit: GOOGLE MAPS

It traded as The Sun Inn and The Rising Sun but then the cattle market moved to Princes Street and the business is thought to have closed as an inn in the early 20th century.

During the 1960s the building was purchased by the Atfield family and became an antiques and specialist bookshop, according to the Ipswich Lettering archives.

The bookshop closed in 1998 and since then various stores, including a fancy dress shop, have been based inside the building.

It often opens its doors to the public on Ipswich Heritage Open Days.

The building still features a name board hanging just under the ceiling of the courtyard entry, emblazoned with the words 'Atfield and Daughter'.

Further inside, eagle-eyed shoppers may be able to spot a sun motif, which features on the side of the building and harks back to its era as a pub.

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