This charming building sits in the centre of the pretty market town of Saxmundham. Built in the 19th-century as the local post office it comprises a ground-floor commercial space, now used as an art gallery, with a generous four-bedroom apartment above. The latter has a private entrance from the street, providing rear access. Representing a rare opportunity to live and work in a vibrant town in the heart of Suffolk, it extends across three floors, plus a cellar with over 3,000 sq ft of space. The house is a two-minute walk to the train station, with direct trains to London Liverpool Street and Ipswich, and close to the Suffolk Heaths AONB and the protected coastline.
Setting the Scene
The Old Post Office is on the high street of the historic market town of Saxmundham. Not far from the Suffolk Coast, the old coach route from London to Europe ran through the town, bringing many visitors from far afield. In 1784, writer Francois de La Rochefoucauld was impressed after spending an evening in Saxmundham, describing it as: “a kind of village, but [it is] well lived in”. Many shops and houses in the town centre are of Georgian or Victorian origin, some dating back to the early Tudor era.
Remaining largely intact, it has many original features, including its shop lettering, corbelled details, exposed brick chimneybreasts and stripped floorboards. A versatile plot to the rear features a lovely, covered area designed by the current owner and several outbuildings and private parking. For more information, please see the History. section.
The Grand Tour
The street-facing façade of The Old Post Office is characterised by its traditional Victorian shop frontage, with the original lettering still visible above the transom window of the half-glazed 19th-century door. The pedimented door frame and blocked pilaster decoration are delightfully imposing and nod to the building’s former official use.
The entrance from the street opens into a small hall, with access to the shop area and the apartment above via outdoor stairs. Used as a gallery for the artistic designs of the current owner, light and space here have been maximised. Large windows and ceiling light flood the ground floor with swathes of light. With exposed brick chimneybreasts, picture rails and corbel decorations, the shop is full of original, characterful details and is designated commercial retail space. To the rear, a further work room and utility room have been created with access to the outdoor space and WC. The cellar is a large space with a beautifully curved flight of stairs descending into the painted brick chamber.
A white-painted bannister leads to the first floor and a long landing—two bedrooms the lie at the rear and living space at the front. The open-plan sitting room and dining room is complete with original floorboards, an exposed brick fireplace and a newly installed Jøtul wood burner. A charming kitchen overlooks the outdoor space to the rear.
The two rooms at the back are bright and spacious and have a separate WC. A neutral palette and stripped floorboards create a rustic feel; windows from both rooms allow light in and overlook the courtyard behind.
A flight of stripped pine stairs leads to the second floor with two more bedrooms and a large bathroom. An expansive roll-top, claw-footed bath with original taps is the focal point of this cosy bathroom. A door with access to the outdoor stairs makes the views from this room particularly pretty, especially when enjoyed from the bath.
The Great Outdoors
The large versatile outdoor space is at the rear of The Old Post Office. Accessed via the ground floor, either from the workroom or along the hall from the main door. Mostly paved, it offers parking and scope for many uses. A useful outbuilding provides ample storage. The bright, covered terrace area has been designed by the current owner and is a delightful place to take in a sunny afternoon. A handsome copper beech tree overlooks the outdoor area and the original brick wall and woodshed delineates the space.
Out and About
Saxmundham has a range of services, including schools and shops, as well a well-known weekly market, held every Wednesday, where many local specialities can be found; a branch of Waitrose is conveniently located within a few minutes’ walk of the back door.
There is also a fantastic selection of pubs and restaurants within easy reach of the house. The Station at Framlingham is a local favourite, as is the Michelin-recommended Italian restaurant Watson and Walpole. The Kings Head in nearby Yoxford does excellent food, and Trinity’s at No1 is a brilliant spot for coffee or breakfast.
For bird lovers, the RSPB Dingle Marshes in Dunwich is an unspoilt mix of habitats that include freshwater reedbed, shingle, coastal grazing marsh and saline lagoons.
Snape Maltings is a ten-minute drive; a mix of malthouses and granaries dating from the mid-19th century, several exhibitions take place here throughout the year. It also hosts Aldeburgh Festival, a 24-day event celebrating music & the arts, opera, comedy and film.
Aldeburgh and its famous beach are a 15-minute drive from the house, where you can find The Lighthouse Restaurant and a lovely independent bookshop. The beach is backed by a promenade with pretty pastel-coloured villas and is just a short walk from the High Street. Predominantly shingle, the beach is filled with old fishing boats and many a pitstop for a pint of prawns or an ice cream.
Saxmundham station is less than a two-minute walk and has direct trains to London Liverpool Street, via Ipswich, in under two hours.
Council Tax Band: B
The town of Saxmundham is mentioned in the Doomsday book. With Bronze age origins, the town’s name means ‘the home of Seaxmund.
A Market Charter was originally granted in 1272 by Henry III to John de Rammeseye for a Thursday market and an annual three-day fair in the town, making it a popular hub for agricultural communities to gather through the centuries – and as a crucial stop on the staging journeys from Europe.
Saxmundham has for centuries been on a main road from Ipswich to Lowestoft or Great Yarmouth. It was throughout a significant staging post, a place for refreshment and change of horses. The Bell, an imposing building on High Street, was rebuilt in the early 1840s, probably the last staging inn to be constructed in England. Numerous stagecoaches departed from the Bell or Angel inns, going both south and north.
To try to ensure better maintenance of the road and bridges, the ‘Ipswich to South Town and Bungay Turnpike Trust’ was set up in 1785; the road passed through Saxmundham, which still has a turnpike house at North Entrance. Road users were charged a fee to pass through. The trust was wound up in 1872 (following the arrival of the railway in 1859, its competitor), and in 1889 the new County Council took over responsibility for the highway.
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