The earliest recorded date of there being a tavern here was 1576: ‘Mistress Eln Rede, wedow (sic) was taxed for her tenement called Taverne late William Redes and Thomas Redes: 10 pence’. As the Redes died in 1543 and 1540 respectively, the Swan House in it’s earliest form must have predated 1540.
In 1587, the yearly rent was recorded as 8 shillings and 2 pence (about 40p or half a Euro). Originally the Tavern, as it was then known, consisted of what is now just the dining room. Floor-traps accessed the cellars and an almost circular oak staircase located alongside the inglenook fireplace, wound it’s way to the room above and up again to the attic. By the 18th century the Tavern had in all but name become a small coaching inn offering accommodation in Beccles, possibly absorbing the land to the east occupied by the old prison, which ceased by 1654.
Various buildings were added as well as four stables and a hay loft situated in the south side of the courtyard. By 1766 the ‘Tavern’ had changed it’s name to the ‘Swan’ and once more to the ‘White Swan’. On 19th July of that year the ‘Norwich Mercury’ advertised: ‘To let with a small part of the stock, the White Swan, public house in Beccles in the centre of town near the new hall, with a large stable, coach-house’. In 1882 Swan House was sold for £600. From the 1960’s to 1980’s the building was used as a tea room and later a fashion and gift shop. Roland Blunk, the previous owner, bought Swan House in 1985 and converted it into a restaurant in 1993 and to a boutique hotel in 2012. The building, although in a form inconceivable in the 16th century, became a full circle.
Art @ Swan House
Mary taught at the Sir John Leman School in Beccles between 1996 – 2001 as well as other Secondary schools in London and East Anglia. Mary worked for many years as an Adult Education tutor for Suffolk County Council and particularly enjoyed the Life Drawing class which she founded. Mary has given talks and workshops to art societies and independent art studios throughout East Anglia and has written articles for The Artist Magazine. She has also taken part in Norfolk Open Studios and the Harleston & Waveney Trail.