One of the oldest boozers in Britain’s Oldest Recorded is about to re-open.
30th November has been confirmed as the date when the old Stockwell Arms will once again be serving real ale in the Dutch Quarter. A high-class restaurant and a slight renaming to The Stockwell will signal the start of the next phase for the site that has a history dating back to 1350.
New owner Robert Morgan has spent over £1m on the complete refurbishment. It is very much an old meets the new. The incredibly delicate balancing act of restoring the historical features in the old timber frame has been completed in tandem with building a modern extension towards the rear.
The Chronic visited the site back in September. It was hard hats, high vis jackets and lots of ladder climbing. Somehow The Stockwell team has managed to step up the construction, with an end of November opening now confirmed.
“At times, progress was painstakingly slow as we battled to bring this wonderful old building back to life. The extent of the rot throughout was much worse than expected. But good wishes and encouragement from the council, authorities and complete strangers gave us the will to persevere.
There is a lot of love for The Stockwell building amongst the Colchester community. It is without doubt one of the most interesting historical buildings in the town.”
The heritage of The Stockwell is a theme that will be maintained moving forward. History won’t be served up on a plate, but some of the artefacts dating back to Roman Camulodunum will form part of the features of the new surroundings.
As for the food?
Top chef Dean Light has been tempted away from previous London work at The Savoy and The Dorchester to put in place a menu of mainly English dishes, mixed in with ‘period meals’ and some world food.
Plus don’t forget the booze. The Real Ale Hall is a feature that The Stockwell has involved those lovely folk from Colchester CAMRA with, keen to keep the historical link between The Stockwell and booze.
This has been a two-year project for Robert and his team. When bought from Admiral Taverns back in 2009, the old girl was sadly left hanging by a thread. The re-building has thrown up many surprises – a Jewish roundhouse built from the original Roman Wall is one of the highlights found in the cellar.
It may have appeared easier at the time to simply knock down the old Stockwell Arms and start again. But persistence has paid off, and the restoration is now approaching the end game – or even the start of the latest incarnation of Sunny Colch history that can tell us many secrets about our town.