Square House Hotel

Square House Hotel

A photo, from the rear, from c. 1900 can be found on this page.              
It looked much the same 50 years later!                                      

We stayed in this establishment for a few weeks in Feb 1952 and for a much   
longer period in Jun-Jul 1954, prior to our departure from the UK.           

The first stay was in a large room on the 2nd floor rear - featuring a very  
high ceiling with shuttered tall windows (giving a wide vista) and a nice    
running-water sink fixture.  In contrast, the 1954 room was on the 3rd floor 
front, narrow and with a low ceiling (actually, a bit more "comfy").         

To get to either of these a large, central, curving stairway had to be       
climbed from the ground floor.  This was situated between the dining room    
(with dinner gongs just outside of it) and the lounge/library.  During the   
1954 stay much time was spent in the latter perusing "old" history books with
my then-limited 1st-grade reading ability causing me to recall more of the   
illustrations (most of likely 19th-century British Empire battles) than any  
text.  The source of some of the "fresh" meals served in the dining room was 
often a matter of wide speculation - as often hunting gunfire was heard on   
the premises and not long after rabbit or rook might appear on the menu!     
More certain were the fresh fruit and vegetables that came from the large    
tract of gardens behind the hotel.                                           

The extensive rear grounds also often served as my playground (and included  
a resident tortoise of unknown age that was shown to me by the groundskeeper)
though my Mother was a bit concerned about the security back there since only
a rather low, long brick wall separated it all from the passing street on the
(west) side.  The front enterance to the grounds did have a pillared gateway.

For a while during the 1954 residency, my Father still had the 1953 Chevy    
before it had to be shipped back stateside, after which our travels outside  
of Bury (mostly back to see our ex-landlady, Mrs. Gordon Cutting) in 15-mile-
away Botesdale) had to rely on a long foot trek to the bus stop on Angel Hill
opposite the Abbey Gate.                                                     

Unlike the 4th of July 1953, 1954 was a rainy affair so we didn't go to the  
Shepherds Grove base for any of the festivities.  On departure day (Jul 25)  
a phone call to Mrs. Cutting had somehow been arranged using the phone near  
the stairway.  The Cuttings did not have their own phone - the nearest being 
in a kiosk a short distance away (still there, as an historical item!).      

In the fall of 1981 I arranged with Steve Richardson, G4JCC, of Hampshire to send me a street map of Bury so that I could re-orient myself after all the decades since we were there. He then did far more than that - he got the Tourist Board of Bury to send me several brochures and an excellent 1976 History Booklet. I was curious why the Hotel Brochure didn't list the Square House in it. I then, by accident, came across a photo advertisment in the History Booklet for it (and, of all things, right across from another ad for something else mentioning serendipity)! That puzzling change between 1976-81 remained something of a mystery until rather recent times when the Web provided a few clues. That area around St. Marys Square (named for the nearby Church - and thus Square House - NOT - for its shape as I had long thought!) had become a large medical complex. With Google Earth came the ability to see that the Square House, indeed, was still there - adjacent to the 1980s Nuffield Hospital (which now fills my "ex-playground"). The exact details on its current status was only just recently gleaned from the Web. It had been declared a building of historical interest in Aug 1952 (very soon after our first stay in it!) so could not be "removed" and thus was turned into a nursing home for the now-adjacent medical complex. When there we'd been told that it had served as a convalescent home during and just after WW2. Even the aforementioned wall has now gained the status of a listed property! Some archeological digs have been also undertaken on the premises in recent decades.
Page created: November 29, 2011