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Bury St Edmunds: Historian claims Cupola House work must not be rushed

PUBLISHED: 10:00 11 January 2013

The destruction at Cupola House, home to Strada restaurant, in The Traverse, Bury St Edmunds, caused by fire. Picture taken on 18/06/12 from an aerial ladder.

The destruction at Cupola House, home to Strada restaurant, in The Traverse, Bury St Edmunds, caused by fire. Picture taken on 18/06/12 from an aerial ladder.

Mariam Ghaemi

A HISTORIAN has claimed it is vital that work to rebuild fire-hit Cupola House is not rushed and remains a “scholarly job throughout”.

Grade I-listed Cupola House, in The Traverse, Bury St Edmunds, was almost totally destroyed after a blaze broke out in a basement kitchen in June 2012.

About 120 people were evacuated from the Strada restaurant, which was housed in the five-storey building, and, although no one was seriously injured, much of the building collapsed.

Dr Pat Murrell, a historical consultant and former historian in residence at the 17th-Century site, has said she welcomes the announcement that those behind the rebuild hope to finish the project by June 2014.

But in a letter to the East Anglian Daily Times, Dr Murrell said the timescale set by those behind the project is “undoubtedly extremely ambitious”.

She added: “Even if the current owners and architect have availed themselves of the existing templates and photographs for this Grade I building – including those from the last extensive, detailed, comprehensive project by Paul Romaine in 2002 to 2004 – completion by mid-2014 will be a remarkable feat for such a major, historically important undertaking.” Dr Murrell said work on the building, which has been part of Bury’s landscape for more than 300 years, “must not be unduly rushed”.

She added: “Sourcing the correct materials, identifying salvage and securing the necessary highly skilled craftsmen to execute the work on features such as the great staircase, the oak room and the carved brackets and bosses beneath the eaves to the front exterior, will not be quick and easy tasks.”

Project engineer David Clarke, said last week that there had been “an awful lot of pre-application discussions” with St Edmundsbury Borough Council .

He said that he hoped it would be possible to submit plans for the rebuild next month with a view to start work in late spring.

Robert Light, project architect at Purcell in Colchester, said the project was not being rushed in any way.

“I appreciate Dr Murrell’s interest and concern and rightly so. We are very keen to be reworking the building with everyone’s interests in mind. We are not rushing it.

“It is her opinion on how a building of this nature can be achieved but does she have the practical knowledge? We are specialists and this is what we do,” he said.

Mr Light added: “We are spending the right time to do this scholarly reconstruction.”

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