'My great-great-grandfather owned the Suffolk Hotel': family links revealed
- Credit: Contributed/Ella Wilkinson
Family connections to a former hotel in a market town's historic centre have been revealed.
What was the Suffolk Hotel in Bury St Edmunds' Buttermarket is hoped to once again return to hotel use following planning permission.
The Grade II-listed building at 36 Buttermarket was home to the Suffolk Hotel more than 20 years ago, but is now occupied by Waterstone's, while the other retail unit is vacant and used to house the Edinburgh Woollen Mill.
Beryl Sims, in her 70s, from Bramford, near Ipswich, said she was "excited" to see one of our articles on the plans for the former Suffolk Hotel.
The front of the building dates back to the late-15th century and was part of an inn called 'Le Greyhounde'.
The building was extensively remodelled in the 1830s and was renamed the Suffolk Hotel. It was known by this name until the hotel closed in the 1990s.
Mrs Sims said: "My great-great-grandfather Joseph Cooper Beckett bought the Greyhound in the 1830s and was responsible for enlarging and improving the building and renaming it.
"His son was born in 1836, but then his wife died. He remarried a widow who had a daughter and they lived outside Bury, in various farms, lastly at Great Green Rougham.
"When this second wife died in 1852 she was buried at Rougham. It appears he then moved back to Bury where he died in 1867 and was buried with her in Rougham.
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"Apparently the business had become rather run down as the hotel was sold quickly to pay off debts and the bequests in his will.
"The coming of the railway had no doubt affected the business of a town centre coaching inn."
Mrs Sims said a few years ago she met with a distant relative who had traced her through a family history site.
Together they went to Waterstone's and a member of staff took them on a tour of the upstairs, where there was no furniture, just empty rooms.
"It was such a shame to see it all deteriorating, but it's wonderful to think it might once again be a hotel," she said.
Mrs Sims has been researching her family history and links to the old Suffolk Hotel.
She has a copy of a newspaper article when the hotel was sold, which she got from the Record Office in Bury St Edmunds. She believes this could date to 1869 when Thomas Cox was the owner.
She also has a photo of the wedding of her mother's aunt, Laura Beckett (Joseph's granddaughter) to Tom Cooper, the sailor, in the early 1900s.
Her grandfather is standing on the left with a moustache and the lady standing on the right is Laura's sister Sabine.
Seated on the right, all in black, she believes is her great-grandmother Sarah Beckett, who was married to Joseph's only son Thomas.
"I can imagine that when they got married she felt quite grand, marrying the son at the Suffolk Hotel.
"Then after Joseph died the family was left almost penniless as he had left a sum of money to his step-daughter so they had to sell the hotel to pay it," she said.
She said by the time of this wedding photo, the only connection to the hotel was a family memory.
"My mother always told me that her family owned the hotel, but I couldn't find them in the records," she said. "It wasn't until someone suggested I tried the rate books for Bury, that I found them living at Rougham and could trace back to roughly when he bought the premises."
While planning permission has been granted for the building to return to hotel use, there is currently no hotel operator in place, said a spokesman for Redhead Architects.