Wolsey house to get revamp

ONE of the most historic buildings in Ipswich is set for a new lease of life.The former shops on the corner of St Nicholas Street and Silent Street are to be restored and brought back into use by the Ipswich Buildings Preservation Trust.

ONE of the most historic buildings in Ipswich is set for a new lease of life.

The former shops on the corner of St Nicholas Street and Silent Street are to be restored and brought back into use by the Ipswich Buildings Preservation Trust.

The trust has bought the building - which was last used as three shops more than a decade ago - from Ipswich council for a nominal fee with a view to restore it as two shops with two flats above.

The shop on the corner was last used as an antiques' showroom in the 1980s while next door was Wolsey's Café and sweet shop which survived a few years longer.

Tom Gondris, from the trust, warned much restoration was needed.

He said: “The biggest problem is with the chimney stack between numbers 45 and 47 St Nicholas Street.

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“It is currently being held together by a brace and it will have to be properly restored.”

The building has been owned by Ipswich council for many years, but a tenant could not be found who was prepared to undertake the work needed to bring it back into use.

Mr Gondris said if the trust was able to make a profit on the restoration, it would share any money it made with the council - but realistically it was looking to break even at best.

The trust has restored several well-known buildings in Ipswich including the former pub, Old Half Moon and Star on Barrack Corner, which was converted into flats and a cottage.

Its aim is to preserve, and bring back into use, buildings that would otherwise not be attractive for developers to work on.

TODAY'S news about the restoration should give a fresh lease of life to a building which has seen many uses over the centuries - and also a new identity.

The trust is looking for a new name for the building - preferably with no reference to Cardinal Wolsey, according to Mr Gondris, contrary to popular opinion, Wolsey was not born in the building and was born in what used to be butcher's shop across the road.

Mr Gondris said: “What we do know is that next to it, on what is now the new block of flats with Saints winebar, was Curzon House which was Ipswich home of Lord Curzon.

“We think this building may have been attached to that as a private hotel for the guests he entertained there.”

During much of the twentieth century the building was the Wolsey Pharmacy, again trading on its connections with the town's most famous son.

Later it became an antique shop before closing its doors in the late 1980s.

In an attempt to brighten the area in the late 1990s, murals showing scenes from Tudor life were put up around the building.

The building's restoration will be a big boost for that area of the town which has seen a dramatic upturn in its fortunes over recent years with many highly-regarded restaurants, individual shops and boutiques.

This building is now the only prominent site on the street that needs improvement, and now a planning application for restoration has been lodged with the council.

There is unlikely to be any opposition to the proposal - and it is expected to be approved by the council within the next few weeks.

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