Ipswich architects at helm of 'exciting' £1m Botanist refurbishment

The Botanist is preparing to reopen in the Old Post Office.

The Botanist is preparing to reopen in the Old Post Office. - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Being involved in the £1million refurbishment of the Old Post Office on the Cornhill has been exciting for an Ipswich-based architect firm. 

The landmark is set to reopen as The Botanist, a bar and restaurant generating a lot of buzz in the town, but the programme of repairs to get it back looking its best was extensive. 

Nicholas Jacob Architects has been consulting on the project to restore the 1881 building since 2018, continuing to work with New World Trading Company as they began plans for the restaurant. 

Hugh Bunbury, associate partner at Nicholas Jacobs, said: "It's been exciting to lead this important project and to see new life breathed into a building of such architectural significance in the town centre. 

"The old post office is a superb example of Italianate design in Portland stone, full of stunning detail and carving.  

"The four statues over the entrance represent Industry, Electricity, Steam and Commerce - a reflection of the optimism of those times, when postal and telegraph communications were booming.  

"We can imagine the front steps and the main hall bustling with customers.  

"And now it will be again - only without horse-drawn carriages - as The Botanist opens its doors to new customers. I'm looking forward to booking a table."  

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The programme of repairs included chimneys, carved stonework and re-roofing in Penrhyn slate by Universal Stone Ltd., while Skillington Workshop Ltd., Grantham, has remodelled eroded parts of the sculptures.  

Four new stone and bronze finials now stand on the parapet - the originals were probably removed for safekeeping during the war. 

Natalie Moodey of Universal Stone Ltd, said: "It's been a pleasure working on such a prominent historic building - the grand style of architect J Johnson proved to be a stone mason's dream. 

"Our passionate team of skilled masons crafted elaborate stone carvings, urns, and finials as part of the larger restoration project.  We are delighted to see the building restored to its former glory and receiving a new lease of life."

The team at The Botanist which is opening this week in Ipswich.

The team at The Botanist which is opening this week in Ipswich. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

The Botanist, which often makes use of prominent historic buildings in town centres, has its new team in place and is looking forward to opening day on April 25.  

An Ipswich Borough Council spokesperson said: "Having The Botanist occupy one of Ipswich's landmark buildings is fantastic for the town and helps in our goal of making Ipswich a destination for people to visit."