First look inside historic ironmongers as new boutique rooms unveiled

The former Clarkes ironmongers in Aylsham. Picture: ARCHANT

The former Clarkes ironmongers in Aylsham. This is the building Mr Briscoe bought but before work began on transforming it. - Credit: Archant

The conversion of a renowned Norfolk ironmongers is continuing with new-look guest rooms starting to take shape.

Tim Briscoe of the Buxton Potato Company wrote a poem on Facebook after about half a tonne of spuds

Tim Briscoe, who is a potato farmer by trade, but who bought the Clarkes ironmongers in Aylsham. - Credit: Archant

Work has been going on at Clarkes in Aylsham since farmer Tim Briscoe bought the property back in 2018. It had been for sale for £450,000-£500,000 at auction in 2017 after its owner, Alan Clarke, passed away but had stood empty.

inside derelict building

Inside the ironmongers before work began. - Credit: Tim Briscoe

Since then, the building, in the heart of the town's marketplace has been shrouded in scaffolding.


The remarkable timbers inside the building at the top. - Credit: Tim Briscoe

The building is far from being finished but eight rooms over the top two floors in what is being called The Ironmongers are starting to resemble guest bedrooms. 

inside period building

Inside the top floors are starting to take shape. - Credit: Tim Briscoe

It was believed the building dated to around 1740 but work has discovered its remarkable timber frame and Mr Briscoe now reckons it's as old as 1640-1650. This timber shell was hidden from view because the building had later additions, with a Georgian front facade added in the 18th century.

inside period building

Inside the guest rooms are starting to take shape. - Credit: Tim Briscoe

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Work had to be done to the roof because the top floor room height was so low. And Mr Briscoe has had to ensure work retains original features, including the former shop front with large windows, because the building is listed.   

inside period building

Inside, the top floors are starting to take shape. - Credit: Tim Briscoe

Clarkes ironmongers operated for decades with the late Mr Clarke being a real character who, customers said, could always find what people needed in his treasure trove of a business. Regulars did say it sometimes took him a while though.

inside derelict building

Inside the Clarkes ironmongers before work began. - Credit: Tim Briscoe


The new logo for The Ironmongers. - Credit: Tim Briscoe

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"I always knew it was going to be a long project and then Covid has slowed us down," said Mr Briscoe, a local farmer who runs the Buxton Potato Company. 

"It's been very exciting, we believe the building dates to 1640-50, it's full of history," he said.

Mr Briscoe is not planning to offer breakfast with the rooms, instead encouraging people to use local amenities. The rooms will be operated with a self-locking system meaning there'll be no need for a concierge. 

He'd hoped originally for one big restaurant to go into the ground floor but since Covid, is now looking at making the space available for commercial rent to a local business, possibly even two. Back in 1838, it was apparently two shops.

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