Bury St Edmunds: Historian offers free lectures on historic Cupola House

A HISTORIAN is offering free lectures on a building in Bury St Edmunds which has been severely damaged by fire in a bid to keep its importance to the town’s heritage in the public eye.

Following the major fire at Grade I-Listed Cupola House in the Traverse on June 16, architects are now working on achieving a “scholarly reconstruction,” hopefully returning it to its former glory.

The iconic building - which was most recently home to Strada restaurant - was built in 1693 for rich apothecary Thomas Macro and his wife Susan, whose initials were on the weather vane on top of the cupola perched on the roof.

Dr Pat Murrell, from Bury, who has researched Cupola House, is offering a number of different lectures on the building for free to any society that is interested. Topics include ‘the Macros and the business of the apothecary in the late 17th Century’ and ‘restoration 2003’. Dr Murrell had access to the building for her research while previous owner Paul Romaine restored it from 2003-04.

She said: “I just want to keep it in the public eye. It’s a building that is worth restoring, and I took slides while I was working there so I can actually show what the building was like. I had access to the upper floors.”

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Cupola House had been an apothecary’s shop, but over the years owners had included wine and spirits merchants and a brewery. It was taken off English Heritage’s Buildings at Risk Register by Mr Romaine.

Following the fire, Dr Murrell would like to see much-loved Cupola House fully restored, “not just a facade at the front and everything different at the back”.

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Writing in the Bury Society’s ‘Society Review,’ she said: “The fire should only be seen as a phase in its history - albeit a very unwelcome one!

“For many of us Cupola will never be the same, but that does not mean subsequent generations should be denied acquaintance with its best and most salient characteristics.

“The high house of the apothecary must rise again to regain its commanding position in the town’s heart and heritage.”

At a meeting for interested parties last week Chris Betts, of Purcell architects, said their client - OMC Investments Ltd which owns Cupola House - wanted a “scholarly reconstruction,” which means based on as much evidence as they have got.

He said fortunately there was a great deal of information on the building.

He estimated the timescale for the work would be 18 months to two years. Some traders have said the scaffolding at the site has led to a drop in footfall.

To contact Dr Murrell about the free lectures call 01284 752496. She is also giving a lecture on Cupola House at 10am on Saturday, October 13, at Bury Record Office in Raingate Street. For more on the fire at Cupola House visit the Pinterest board at http://pinterest.com/theeadt/cupola-house/

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