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Gunton Arms owner buys long-closed north Norfolk pub

14:49 01 February 2016

Art dealer Ivor Braka, owner of the Gunton Arms, has now bought the former Suffield Arms and is going to re-open it as a pub.

Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Art dealer Ivor Braka, owner of the Gunton Arms, has now bought the former Suffield Arms and is going to re-open it as a pub. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Archant Norfolk 2016

Art dealer Ivor Braka is planning to re-open a rural north Norfolk pub, closed for five years.

Art dealer Ivor Braka (centre), owner of the Gunton Arms, has now bought the former Suffield Arms and is going to re-open it as a pub. Pictured with Stuart and Simone Tattersall. 

Picture: MARK BULLIMOREArt dealer Ivor Braka (centre), owner of the Gunton Arms, has now bought the former Suffield Arms and is going to re-open it as a pub. Pictured with Stuart and Simone Tattersall. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Mr Braka has bought the former Suffield Arms in Thorpe Market, less than two miles from his successful Gunton Arms pub-restaurant.

He plans a major refurbishment of the building, which had been a pub since at least 1889, and hopes it will be ready to open sometime next year.

The former pub is opposite Gunton Station, on the Norwich to Sheringham Bittern Line.

“I’m not doing it for the money,” said Mr Braka, 60. “I’m doing it because I genuinely don’t want to see the life-blood sucked out of the countryside.

Re-opening is welcomed

Naomi Perowne, chairman of Thorpe Market Parish Council, said she was personally delighted that the Suffield Arms would be re-opening.

“I can’t imagine the village would do anything other than welcome this news,” said Ms Perowne.

It had been a very popular pub which villagers could walk to across country whereas the Gunton Arms was beside a dangerous road with no footpath.

Ted Gadsden, chairman of the Bittern Line Community Rail Partnership, said the pub used to be a rendezvous for guided Bittern Line walks and he hoped its re-opening would encourage more walkers and cyclists to use both the train line and the pub.

Ian Stamp, pubs campaign co-ordinator for the Norwich and Norfolk branch of CAMRA, said it was unusual, but very welcome for a pub to re-open after so long.

In Norfolk last year, excluding the Mid-Anglia CAMRA branch area to the south of Loddon, 25 pubs closed and there were currently 821 open pubs, Mr Stamp said.

“Pubs and churches used to be the centre of communities. With the decline in church-going, pubs are somewhere where people can still get together and share a sense of community.

“One of the very sad things in England is that people are more and more engaged with their computers, sitting alone in their room.”

In December 2013 North Norfolk District Council granted permission for The Suffield Arms, which closed in March 2011, to be converted for residential use but the work was not carried out.

Mr Braka, who has homes in London and on the Gunton Estate, said he hoped the council would be sympathetic to his bid to get it re-licensed as a pub.

He regularly catches the train to Gunton Station when travelling from the capital to Norfolk and said he had been contemplating the purchase for some time because the run-down, former pub - once very popular - looked so sad from the train windows.

The nearby Gunton Arms, formerly the Elderton Lodge Hotel, opened under his ownership in October 2011.

Set in a 1,000-acre deer park, its style and panache reflect Mr Braka’s tastes. In 2013 the pub was chosen as Michelin Pub of the Year.

It is run by Stuart and Simone Tattersall, who used to work for the celebrated London chef Mark Hix.

They will be involved with the Suffield Arms but Mr Braka is keeping his plans for the new venture under wraps.

“I’m not trying to make a replica of the Gunton Arms - it will be a slightly-different offering,” he said.

“It has a marvellously-long bar and I shall certainly be making a feature of that.

“I’m hoping it will bring more people and jobs to the area.”

Have you got a pub story? Contact: alex.hurrell@archant.co.uk

12 comments

  • The saying "you can't please everyone all of the time" springs to mind! However, look upon it the regeneration and reopening of the Suffield Arms will - create jobs, enhance local businesses and revitalise a building - can only have a positive effect on the local area!

    Report this comment

    MissP

    Thursday, February 4, 2016

  • Hurrah for Ivor - and I love the Gunton Arms. Agree about turning pubs into gastronomical hangars. Clear the tables of cutlery and bring back the snug I say.

    Report this comment

    Citizen

    Wednesday, February 3, 2016

  • Great a pub we can walk to again and just make it back.

    Report this comment

    David G Spencer

    Monday, February 1, 2016

  • Well let's hope the food is better than that of the Gunton Arms!

    Report this comment

    Voice of Reason

    Monday, February 1, 2016

  • @Patrick. Indeed. A majority of 'country pubs' now are more like fine dining restaurants. I don't mind paying for food if it is of good quality and in a nice, relaxed, welcoming environment. If I want a more posh affair I'll go to one of the many excellent restaurants in the City. The Ram at Tivetshall for example has no background music, no real bar area, bright lights everywhere and a huge expanse of restaurant space that I've never seen more than 4 tables in. I believe that this was once the place to go. So sad. I understand it's under new ownership management but they don't seem to be looking to change it. Let's try and bring back the local pub, with its good wholesome 'pub grub' ... I know there's a market for it! Sadly it seems as though the handful of good pubs, serving good food, are restricted to the City Centre now anyway.

    Report this comment

    Hannie01

    Monday, February 1, 2016

  • @TurnipDick - I prefer pubs & restaurants without moaning, grumpy old men in them

    Report this comment

    Chutney Locker

    Monday, February 1, 2016

  • Well done Mr Braka, I think you would do well with a Microbrewery too. Even though there is local money to revamp places like this, the ones who have it, don't! Thanks for thinking about the local people, who don't have it! I'll be in for a pint once it's open

    Report this comment

    Skoalbandit

    Monday, February 1, 2016

  • Mr MCcloy - I think you must mean "look up that word". You use a split infinitive - you'll find what that is in a book of grammar , if you have such a thing.

    Report this comment

    Dick Turnip

    Monday, February 1, 2016

  • @Hannie01: interesting comments. There seem to be too many pubs that have suffered from changing perceptions in society, the need to generate income - usually from food. That has often led to pretentious food and loss of the 'feel' of the pub as a 'local'. Not to say that good, wholesome - let's call it 'plain' - food cannot find a place. I am sure it can be done!

    Report this comment

    Patrick

    Monday, February 1, 2016

  • Mr Turnip - or should I simply say Dick - what a cantankerous, sad individual you are. You were a child once and judging by the standard of your comments on these posts you could probably do with growing up still. You will also notice that I never hide behind a pseudonym (that means 'false name'). Yours however is very apposite (you may need to look that word up).

    Report this comment

    Will McCloy

    Monday, February 1, 2016

  • I enjoy visiting country pubs selling so-called "overpriced" food - it usually means there are no badly behaved children or screaming babies being ignored by their parent(s). People with kids obviously think "well , I have to put up with it , why shouldn't everyone else?" Much like those people who think it's a good idea to take new born's & toddlers on aeroplanes - so all other passengers can experience the delights of a thumping headache at 30,000 feet.

    Report this comment

    Dick Turnip

    Monday, February 1, 2016

  • That's good news... Better than seeing M a derelict building. I wonder though if this too will become over priced for food... Such has happened with so many country pubs now! However; I wish somebody like this, or Enterprise, would take over our local (that we just don't use because of its complete lack of atmosphere, uncomfortable setting and miserable staff) The Ram at Tivetshall.

    Report this comment

    Hannie01

    Monday, February 1, 2016

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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