A vacant 16th Century building in Wellingborough town centre is to become a pub operated by an award-winning local brewery.
The Hart Family Brewers, based at Nene Court in Wellingborough, will open the ‘Old House’ at 29-30 Sheep Street, in early November.
The Grade II listed timber framed ‘Tudor House,’ as it is locally known, is owned by Wellingborough Council.
Originally two houses and part of the Croyland Abbey estate, much of the ground floor is Medieval, and the foundations are thought to date back to AD 948, with later Tudor editions.
It is one of the few domestic buildings which survived the great fire of Wellingborough of 1738 and the only thatched house in the town.
Council leader Cllr Martin Griffiths said: “We’re delighted to have an independent local business with such great ideas take over the lease and bring this iconic Wellingborough building back into use.
“The Hart Family Brewers are a popular local business and we welcome any businesses who can improve the offer and choices for visitors to our town centre.
“As a listed property, its use is limited, so this is an ideal solution. This restoration work is another example of how the council are improving the town’s historical buildings and bringing them back into use, as well as investing in its estate for income generation.”
The council was recently recognised by the Wellingborough Civic Society for the quality of the restoration works they completed at the Tudor House, which included re-thatching the roof, installing new floors and redecoration to prepare the property for lease.
But this is not the first time the building has been associated with brewing.
In the late 19th Century and early 20th Century, it was owned by the Wellingborough brewery company William Dulley & Sons, who restored and gifted the building to Wellingborough Urban District Council in 1920.
Since then the building has been used as an antique shop, the Tudor House Restaurant and as a Chinese restaurant.
The ‘Old House’s’ imminent landlords, Rob and Sarah Hart, produce and sell a range of cask and bottled beers and India Dry Gin at their custom-built brewery, which they opened at Nene Court in 2012.
Visitors can look round a working brewery and buy their products Monday to Friday from 10am to 4pm and on Saturdays from 10am to 5pm, with free tasting on offer every Saturday.
Mr Hart is working closely with Wellingborough Museum to piece together information and images of the building which will be displayed in the Old House.
He said: “It’s such a stunning building and we want to make sure we do it justice.
“Looking through old postcards depicting buildings on Sheep Street, we noticed many were captioned ‘Old House,’ hence the pub name was decided.
“We are also working closely with the borough council to ensure this venture is commercially sound and respectful of the unique character of the premises.”
He added: “We will major on our own beers and offer selected guest beers, including beers from other UK regions.
“We’ll also sell our own gin and single malt, bar snacks from local producers, plus we’ll have the best wine list in Wellingborough, compiled from our hand selected premium wines which we sell at our brewery.”
Downstairs there will a bar area and seating, with further seating upstairs.
Rob and Sarah also plan to open a courtyard beer garden and host regular music nights and a film club showing cult classics.
The property is one of many in Wellingborough where the occupier qualifies for rate relief because it has a rateable value of less than £12,000.
The council is also introducing a discretionary relief scheme following the award of Government funding to cover the increase in business rates imposed by the Inland Revenue in their recent re-valuation of business properties.
In addition, public houses with a rateable value of up to £100,000 will be given a one-off lump sum of £1000 as part of the relief measures.