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Sudden closure of prominent Bungay hotel

PUBLISHED: 15:44 07 February 2008 | UPDATED: 14:01 21 May 2010

THE Three Tuns Hotel, the most prominent commercial building in Bungay's town centre, has closed without warning.

The shock news was revealed as the town was coming to terms with the planned closure of Read's Sports and Menswear and the town's branch of the HSBC bank, both also in the Market Place.

THE Three Tuns Hotel, the most prominent commercial building in Bungay's town centre, has closed without warning.

The shock news was revealed as the town was coming to terms with the planned closure of Read's Sports and Menswear and the town's branch of the HSBC bank, both also in the Market Place.

The announcement leaves four other town centre businesses urgently seeking alternative premises - the Toy and Gift Emporium, Four Seasons fashion shop, the Medieval banquets and Once Upon a Time fancy dress hire. The banquets have been held at the Tuns for nearly 40 years.

In all cases the owners of the businesses have been given notice, but all emphasised they would continue to trade while looking for alternative accommodation.

It will leave a big gap in the heart of Bungay and this week the Mayor, John Groom, appealed to the company to let the shops continue trading while the premises was on the market.

“I have spoken to their estates manager on behalf of the shops to see if he can save them from closing. They have both spent a lot of money setting up the businesses there,” he said.

“I am concerned about the situation - if they close that is five shops lost in one go and I don't want the situation in the town to deteriorate any more.”

The hotel, owned by Admiral Taverns, based in Hertfordshire, dates back at least to 1540 and is believed to have been in business as a coaching inn, and more recently a hotel and pub, for all that time.

Sharon Erskine has run the medieval banquets and costume hire business at the Tuns for much of the time they have been established as a significant tourist attraction. Sharon Clarke, who is currently working with her, said this week:

“The closure came out of the blue. It is terrible, but there is nothing we can do about it. We have been told the Tuns has shut because the bar was unviable, but the banquets are still carrying on as normal and we are looking for new premises, preferably in Bungay.”

She said they had not been given a deadline to leave. As far as they knew it was being put on the market.

Mary Seamons, who runs the Bungay Toy and Gift Emporium with her partner Toby Bardwell in a unit rented form Admiral Taverns, said they had been asked to leave so the premises could be advertised with vacant possession.

“We are looking for somewhere to move to, but the business is definitely carrying on. We don't know when we have to leave, and we would prefer to stay,” she said.

Yesterday she said they were finalising arrangements to move into the Motley's premises at 36b, Earsham Street. There could be a break between moving and re-opening there, but she hoped to welcome all old and new customers.

Mary Fuller, who has run Four Seasons next door with her husband, John for just over a year, said they had also been given notice.

“It is a bit of a shock. I have thousands of pounds worth of stock for the spring and summer season, and I have got to have somewhere to sell them,” she said. “This is a nice shop for the town and I want to stay in Bungay. It is a lovely town and we just want to get people to use the shops and keep it going.”

Mr Fuller said they had been given four weeks to get out and he was very annoyed about it.

“It came out of the blue. They are saying they want vacant possession to be able to sell it,” he said.

The couple are finalising details to move into Pretty's beauticians premises further along Earsham Street as a temporary measure.

This week rumours abounded in Bungay about the Three Tuns, one being that it was already sold and another that it would be turned into flats.

The lease of the Three Tuns has been held for many years by Ian Terry, but he could not be traced this week.

Meanewhile Admiral Taverns were remaining tight-lipped on the prominent building. A spokesman for the company would only say: “The pub is currently closed while we consider all the options for its future. We have no further comment to make at this time.”

The Three Tuns stands fronting the Market Place and also bordering Earsham Street and Broad Street. It includes a large main bar, a cellar bar, and the banqueting suite on the first floor, with the costume hire business at second floor level, and living accommodation.

It is steeped in history, and is said to be haunted by the ghost of a monk who fled the dissolution of the monasteries. The banqueting suite was added to the inn in 1733. During the 1970s efforts were made to exorcise the ghost. Highwayman Dick Turpin and Charles Dickens are among those said to have stayed there.

During much of the 19th and 20th centuries it was a premier venue for the town's social functions and meetings.

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