This charming former post office is set in the centre of the pretty market town of Saxmundham. Unfolding across four floors and over 3,000 sq ft, it is a rare opportunity to live and work in a delightful town in the heart of Suffolk. A large maisonette and workshop space is set above a gallery in a semi-commercial arrangement. The gallery which housed the post office’s front desk in the 19th-century is on the ground floor and has high ceilings and large windows. With flexibility for future use, this ground floor space would make the perfect setting for a variety of businesses. The living spaces above are defined by their cosy and historic charm, and there is a basement, as well as a rear terrace; the whole house is characterised by its plethora of original features. It is incredibly well connected; Saxmundham station is a two-minute walk, with direct trains to London Liverpool Street and Ipswich. It is also close to Suffolk Heaths AONB and the protected Suffolk coastline.
Setting the Scene
Not far from the Suffolk Coast, the old coach route from London to Europe ran through Saxmundham, bringing in a surprising array of often continental visitors to the quiet Suffolk town. Shops, coaching inns, and eventually, the post office in the 19th century sprang up to cater to these travellers. Eventually replaced by the railway, which still serves the town today, the town remained a hub. Many of the houses in the town centre are of Georgian or Victorian origin, with some dating back to the early Tudor era.
Remaining largely intact, the building has many original features, including shop lettering, corbelled details, exposed brick chimney breasts and stripped floorboards. A versatile and substantial plot to the rear features a lovely, covered area designed by the current owner. With several outbuildings and parking access, the outdoor spaces offer an array of opportunities. 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, which in turn leads to the commercial space on the left. Used as a gallery for the artistic designs of the current owner, light and space here have been maximised. Large windows and a ceiling light flood the ground floor with swathes of light. With exposed brick chimney breasts, picture rails and corbel decorations, the shop is full of original, characterful details. 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.
Stairs lead to the first floor. Here, a long landing leads to the living spaces at the front of the plan and two bedrooms at the rear. At the front of the building, overlooking the road, is the open-plan sitting and dining room, complete with original floorboards, an exposed brick fireplace and a newly installed Jøtul wood burner. Tucked away behind this is a charming kitchen, which overlooks the outdoor space to the rear.
The two bedrooms 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 again overlook the courtyard.
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 space. A door with access to outdoor stairs – which leads down to the courtyard, 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. It is accessed via the ground floor 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 delineate 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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