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HTB Norwich church plant St Thomas’s resurrects the pub next door

11 August 2017

Red Williams/Archant Media

Opening for business: the manager of the Mitre, Carl Brown

Opening for business: the manager of the Mitre, Carl Brown

A VICTORIAN pub in Norwich city centre will run again after being resurrected to its former glory by a neighbouring Holy Trinity, Brompton (HTB) church-plant, St Thomas’s, in what is thought to be the first venture of its kind.

The Mitre was first licensed 150 years ago, but closed in 2010. It reopened briefly the next year as a Chinese restaurant and takeaway, before being put back on the market in October 2015.

St Thomas’s, Norwich (formerly Heigham), bought the site for just under £500,000 in February last year, and has spent the past 18 months gutting and renovating the building. The Mitre will officially reopen on Monday, under the same name, as a not-for-profit bar, café, and restaurant.

Breakfast, lunch, snacks, hot and cold drinks, and craft beers will be on sale from 8.30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Saturday. In two months, these hours will be extended until 9 p.m., including Sundays, to include evening meals.

The Mitre will be managed by Carl Brown, and run with three other employees, two apprentices from City College Norwich, and volunteers. All profits are to be pushed into local, national, and international charities and initiatives that support people suffering from debt, poverty, crime, trafficking, addiction, and loneliness.

The Priest-in-Charge of St Thomas’s, the Revd Ian Dyble, said on Tuesday: “We see the Mitre as a public home; once a ‘free house’ and now a place which could be seen as a ‘freedom house’ as we will be profiling our social action projects.

“We were pleased to have had youngsters from the St Edmunds Society work on the renovation and gain valuable experience — teenagers who are not in mainstream education and are learning trades in the hope of having a future.”

The congregation numbered about 30 when Mr Dyble arrived at St Thomas’s with a £50,000 “pump-priming” grant from HTB, but without a team, in 2013. Today, attendance across all services and two sites stands at about 450 people (Features, 21 April). The Mitre was bought with donations from the congregation, through a specially created PCC-run trading company, which also runs the Sanctuary coffee shop at St Thomas’s second site, St Alban’s.

“The congregation have been totally supportive and are so excited to be part of this amazing project,” Mr Dyble said. “It has been through their generous giving — in money, time, and skills — that this has been possible.”

The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James, said: “The Mitre pub was a rather unkempt and forlorn advertisement for the episcopate, until the people of St Thomas’s Church turned it into a centre for the community and a hub for parish life.

“It is a further sign of the commitment of the people of St Thomas’s to the community they serve, and a fresh expression of a truly public house, one where everyone is welcome in the name of Christ.”

Red Williams/Archant Media“Unkempt and forlorn”: the Victorian Mitre pub, as it was shortly after St Thomas’s bought the site 18 months ago

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