Historic hotel set to re-open

IPSWICH'S historic Great White Horse is set to re-open this month after two Suffolk businessmen unveiled plans to save the historic building from extinction and to turn it into an upmarket bar and hotel.

IPSWICH'S historic Great White Horse is set to re-open this month after two Suffolk businessmen unveiled plans to save the historic building from extinction and to turn it into an upmarket bar and hotel.

A renovation of the landmark Tavern Street building, parts of which date back to the 16th century, has begun and the ground-floor bar could be open by November 19.

Businessmen Paul Phillips and Andy McNath have taken a short-term lease on the building - where guests at the former hotel have included Charles Dickens and Horatio Nelson - and hope to turn the upstairs into a hotel once again.

The two men, who run the Crown Inn at Ufford, want to refurbish the Great White Horse's 56 bedrooms and add 19th century-style décor as well as to run the bar as a smart-dress establishment aimed at the over-25s.


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Mr Phillips said: “It's an incredible building. We will take the hotel back to Dickens' time if we can. We want to redecorate every single room as soon as possible.”

The businessmen have agreed a reduced rate lease with Citygate Developments, which owns the property, and hope to negotiate a long-term deal if the bar is successful.

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But before making major alterations to the Grade II listed building they will have to get planning permission plus approval from Citygate, of Norwich.

Mr Phillips and Mr McNath also want to open the function suites but said this would take longer to sort out.

They are trying to recruit staff for the bar this week.

The £2 million freehold for the building is still on the market, said Citygate director Ian Reid.

The building is currently closed although the bar is opened on Friday and Saturday evenings for young people's nights.

n. Can you tell us something about the history of the Great White Horse? What do you think of the plans?

Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

The Great White Horse can trace its roots back to 1518, when it was known as The Tavern, and gave its name to the street it fronts.

Citygate Developments bought it a year ago with the hope of giving it a massive overhaul, creating two shop units on the ground floor and refurbishing the hotel rooms.

But despite speaking to more than 20 potential tenants about taking on the units, the idea fell through.

It has a corner location fronting Tavern Street and the rear hotel reception is situated off Northgate Street.

Dickens stayed at the hotel and wrote about it in the Pickwick Papers. Naval hero Admiral Nelson stayed there, as did Edward VIII after his abdication.

French King Louis XVIII also stopped off for refreshments there on his way to Norwich.

In recent years performers at Ipswich town centre theatres, including Noddy Holder and Slade, have also stayed.

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