New publication to capture the original Cupola House in Bury St Edmunds so ‘it is not forgotten’

Donald Maxwell’s colour sketch in the 1920s shows the perfect proportions of Cupola House

Donald Maxwells colour sketch in the 1920s shows the perfect proportions of Cupola House - Credit: Contributed

The former owner of a fire-damaged Grade I-listed building and a local historian are working on a publication to “preserve for future generations” the original property.

Firefighters battle to tackle the major fire in the historic Cupola House in the Traverse, Bury St E

Firefighters battle to tackle the major fire in the historic Cupola House in the Traverse, Bury St Edmunds, in June 2012. - Credit: Archant

Paul Romaine renovated Cupola House in The Traverse, Bury St Edmunds, from 2003/04 and Dr Pat Murrell was a historian in residence at the 17th Century site.

The building, whose iconic cupola towered above the town, was almost totally destroyed after a blaze broke out in the basement kitchen in June 2012.

The historic property had been home to Strada restaurant, and about 120 people were evacuated from inside when the fire began.

In a letter to the EADT, Mr Romaine and Dr Murrell said: “We strongly believe it should not be forgotten, or eclipsed by its 21st Century successor which, notwithstanding the great skill of modern craftsmen, can now only ever be a pastiche of the original.


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“So, with the fine Grade I-building that was Old Cupola virtually gone, and it’s new steel-framed replacement on its way, we would like to inform those who share our affection for the original build that we propose publishing a detailed account of the Late Stuart house.

“In doing this we hope to preserve for future generations the real ‘High House’ of the apothecary which delighted the intrepid female traveller Celia Fiennes in 1698 and countless others thereafter.”

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The “scholarly reconstruction” of Cupola House is being carried out by architects Purcell and Seamans Building. Just over a week ago the rebuild reached a pivotal moment when the reconstructed cupola was lifted into place by crane.

Mr Romaine and Dr Murrell said, apart from their usual sources for the publication, their “thorough study” would incorporate unpublished and private material not readily available.

“We shall look into the Macro family for whom the house was built, how and why it was constructed in the way it was, and note what original features of the Late Stuart period survived until June 2012.”

They said they want to bring “the Macro house to life”. “Our intention is not to produce a dry, architectural survey. Old Cupola was a vibrant building both architecturally and with regards to the lifestyles of its principal occupants.”

They also hope their publication will underline the importance of properly recording such historically significant buildings.

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