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Norwich dinning and accommodation options come to the end of an era on Saturday when By Appointment owner Robert Culyer(with his old desk) auctions off the contents of his well known St George's Street premises. Photo by Simon Finlay
by Stacia briggs
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
No appointment is necessary to view the flamboyant antiques and collectibles being auctioned from By Appointment on Saturday as the landmark Norwich restaurant clears its decks for a new future.
The former By Appointment restaurant closed six weeks ago – although the bed-and-breakfast side of the business was open until Sunday – and now owner Robert Culyer plans to make a clean break by auctioning off the entire contents of the 25-room establishment.
With no reserve on any of almost 400 lots going under the hammer on Saturday, buyers attending the Keys auction at the 500-year-old St George’s Street property will have the opportunity to grab a piece of history at a bargain price.
“I’ve been collecting since I was about 18 and if I look around at the bits and pieces in the restaurant I can still tell you exactly where I bought every item,” said owner Robert Culyer. “There are a few things that I’ll be sad to see go: my late Victorian desk is where all the money from the restaurant went and we’ve been trying to work out how many millions it’s held over the years!
“By Appointment was famous for its collections of furniture, paintings and antiques and I know that a lot of our old customers are planning to come along and buy a memento.”
Housed in three 15th-century merchants’ dwellings, By Appoint-ment is spread through a labyrinth of rooms, each filled with treasures from silk quilts to ornate mirrors, glittering chandeliers to royal memorabilia, opulent furniture to quirky nick-nacks and cabinets stacked with silverware to sumptuous velvet curtains.
Once cleared, building work will begin to transform the former restaurant into four apartments.
“It was very strange to serve the last breakfast on Sunday and to switch off the ovens for the very last time,” said Mr Culyer, “I haven’t shed a tear yet, but I imagine when the building is empty it will be quite emotional: being at the restaurant has been my life for 25 years.”
A special charity lot will also be available at the auction on Saturday: a lunch for eight people cooked by Mr Culyer at his home near Wymondham with proceeds donated to Wymondham Abbey.
Keys partner Roy Murphy, who will be conducting the auction, said: “This is an amazing collection making up one of the most theatrical and flam-boyant public interiors in Norfolk.
“Because everything is being sold without reserve, this is a chance for anyone to come and bid, whether they are collectors or simply people who have enjoyed eating at By Appointment and want to take home a part of its famous interior.”
The sale is at By Appointment on Saturday from 10.30am. Viewing is tomorrow from 2pm to 7pm, Friday from 10am to 4pm and on the day of the sale from 9am. Further details are available at keysauctions.co.uk.
A Norwich-based business which started as a “man with a van” operation is eyeing further expansion after seeing its predicted turnover increase from £6,000 to £340,000 within five years.