Church is to reopen and run the Mitre pub in Norwich in what is believed to be a first for the UK
- Credit: Nick Butcher
A church is to reopen, and run, a former Norwich pub later this month in what is believed to be a first for England.
The Mitre pub, on Earlham Road, was purchased for just under £500,000 by the neighbouring St Thomas Church in 2016.
And next week, on Monday, August 14, it will finally open its doors as a cafe, bistro, pub and restaurant.
Terry Huggins, the managing director of church's trading arm which owns the pub, said: 'As far as we know this is the first situation where a church has taken on and run a pub.
'It used to be said that Norwich had a pub for every day of the year and a church for every week, and so in a strange way we are mixing that up a bit.'
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Mr Huggins said rather than being a public house, The Mitre would become a 'public home' where people can visit and feel comfortable.
For the first few weeks, the premises will only be open from 8.30am to 4pm, Monday to Saturday. During that time people will be able to order breakfasts and lunch, as well as choose from a variety of craft beers by the bottle.
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But within two months of opening, the hours will be extended to 8.30am to 9pm, Monday to Sunday.
Mr Huggins said four new jobs have been created, and two apprentices from City College Norwich have been taken on.
The vicar of St Thomas Church, Ian Dyble, said: 'We are so pleased that through the generosity of many we were able to raise the finance to acquire this building and return it to its original purpose of serving and being an asset to the community.
'As we renovated the building we were surprised to find the upper rooms had been insulated from light and sound and whilst we cannot be sure what they were used for it is rewarding to let the light in and transform these into a presence for good in the area.
'It will be a place where everyone will feel welcome, somewhere for good food, coffee and craft ale, where you can chose to join in the chatter and make friends or enjoy the peace and quiet of your own company.'
The pub will be a not-for-profit venture, but should there be any surplus money, Mr Huggins said it will donated to charities supported by the church.
As well as having a restaurant, the premises will also have a community space for local groups to use.
The pub's history
The Mitre is a well-known Norwich landmark on Earlham Road.
When it was first put up for sale in 1859, it was described as 'well-suited for a genteel family' and included a 15 sq ft drawing room, six bedrooms, a gardener's cottage with three rooms and a pump on the premises.
It was first licensed as a pub in 1867 by Elijah Cole, who was said to have purchased the cottage for £750.
By 1900 the main house had been enlarged to include a club room.
The premises closed around seven years ago, before reopening as a Chinese restaurant in 2011.
But it was put up for sale again in October 2015, after which it was purchased by the church.
One of the pub's well-known landlords, Margarita Robertson, died in June this year, aged 87.
She had run the premises with her late husband Andrew - who died in 2015 - between 1984 and 1999.