The historic round house that stood on the cattle market in Bury St Edmunds has been restored and re-erected at the Museum of East Anglian Life, Stowmarket and will be launched at a special event at 2.30pm on Monday 18 June 2012. Members of the press are invited to come to the event.
In 2006, when construction work started on the new arc development in Bury St Edmunds, the round house was carefully dismantled and put into storage. The Bury St Edmunds Society and St Edmundsbury Borough Council worked together to identify a new site for the building and examined many different locations, but concluded that there was no appropriate site in the town centre. The Museum of East Anglian Life came to the rescue by offering to take the structure and rebuild it alongside other market buildings, including the old Robert Boby building from Bury St Edmunds, using a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The attractive octagonal wooden building, also known as the settling house, tally house or counting house, was erected in 1864 and used as a payments office for the market. The toll collector also had a licence to sell buns and ginger beer from the building on market days. By 2006, it was very dilapidated, with many rotten timbers that had to be discarded. But now the Museum of East Anglian Life has restored it to its former glory and set it in a context where it belongs, with advice from the Council officers who supervised its dismantling and storage. The museum is even planning to use it for one of its original purposes, no longer collecting tolls, but still selling refreshments.
Alan Jary, Chairman of the Bury St Edmunds Society, said: "The Society welcomes the restoration of this iconic building, which found a place in the heart of the people of Bury St Edmunds. Whilst we regret that it no longer stands in Bury St Edmunds, we are very grateful to the Museum of East Anglian Life, who have recognised its importance and have restored it to its former glory."
Cllr Sara Mildmay-White, deputy leader of St Edmundsbury Borough Council, said: "We are so pleased that the round house has found such an appropriate home where it will be properly looked after and appreciated. It is wonderful to see how this building which looked so sad and forlorn has been given a new lease of life."
Tony Butler, Director of the Museum of East Anglian Life said… " The building symbolises the meeting of town and country, or urban and rural life. It is prescient that the building has been re-erected on a site which looks onto open country but is within a two minute walk of the town. We have reproduced some lovely sketches of scenes from the Bury cattle market by the artist David Gentleman to go on display inside the building."