Treasures from 14th century former coffee shop up for auction

The Britons Arms coffee shop on Elm Hill, Norwich, which closed in 2020.

The Britons Arms coffee shop on Elm Hill, Norwich, which closed in 2020. - Credit: Paul Hewitt

Furniture and decorative items from a 14th century Norwich landmark that closed as a coffee house are going up for auction.

The lots from the much-loved Britons Arms on Elm Hill will be in an online sale by Diss-based TW Gaze auction rooms on Friday, February 19, from 10am.

Items from the Grade II* building include 19th and 20th century oak and country tables and chairs, Victorian copper, and decorative pieces, plus a 19th century strap iron four-seater bench valued between £400 and £500.

Experts believe the thatched building dates as far back as 1347 and is the only one in that area to have survived the Great Fire of Norwich in 1507.

It has had a variety of uses, from a nunnery to being associated with the wool trade and was first recorded as an ale house in 1760, which it continued to be until the mid 20th century.

The Norwich City Council-owned building reopened in 1960 as a coffee shop and restaurant, being taken over by sisters Sue Skipper and Gilly Mixer in the mid 1970s, but they closed in December 2020.

It is now up for rent - the lease available for 10 years or more is £22,500 a year.

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Auctioneer and valuer Edward Smith, who has been preparing the collection, said: “It’s been a great privilege to assist Gilly and Sue as they come to the end of a long, happy chapter.

"It is an emotional time for many reasons, but equally, the fact that people will have the opportunity to buy a piece form the auction and share some Elm Hill history, is rare and makes it exciting. There are some lovely pieces in the sale."

Sue Skipper, right, and Gilly Mixer, pictured in 2012, at the Britons Arms on Elm Hill, Norwich, which they used to run as...

Sue Skipper, right, and Gilly Mixer, pictured in 2012, at the Britons Arms on Elm Hill, Norwich, which they used to run as a coffee shop until 2020. - Credit: Bill Smith

The former Britons Arms building is managed by the Norwich Preservation Trust and has been used in films such as Stardust starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Claire Danes and Sienna Miller.

It was most recently seen on screen at Christmas in the Netflix festive film Jingle Jangle.

Mrs Mixer and Mrs Skipper said they decided to retire after over 40 years running the business partly due to the coronavirus lockdowns and restrictions.

For more information about the auction lots visit www.twgaze.co.uk. Due to Covid19 restrictions, there is no public viewing.