Historic Ely Shop is Closing Down

A HISTORIC Ely shop and tearoom is closing its doors next month. Steeple Gate, owned by Ely businessman John Ambrose, is due to shut on July 4, leaving 19 members of staff unemployed. Manager Dawn Mustill held back tears as she described a very happy 16

A HISTORIC Ely shop and tearoom is closing its doors next month.

Steeple Gate, owned by Ely businessman John Ambrose, is due to shut on July 4, leaving 19 members of staff unemployed.

Manager Dawn Mustill held back tears as she described a very happy 16 years' employment. "I love it here," she said.

"We have some regulars who have been in tears when we said we were going. It's very, very sad."


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Steeple Gate's upstairs tearoom has been a regular haunt for pensioners, and its famous home-made scones have been on the menu since the early days.

"Every single cake is home-made, and the waitresses' service, some of whom have been there for more than a decade, is what keeps people coming back, said Mrs Mustill. "Judith and Dia have run the tearoom for 11 or 12 years now, and people like the continuity."

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The tearoom has also attracted hordes of tourists through its doors, fresh from visits to nearby Ely Cathedral.

John Ambrose bought the listed Steeple Gate building in 1978 and turned it into a tearoom and craft shop. His Saturday morning woodturning exhibitions in the building's cavernous downstairs vault were legendary, turning out a sea of wooden mushrooms. Local woodturners' work is still sold in the shop today - as are items by local craftspeople and independent wholesalers, and local artists' work graces the walls of the tearoom, which is, true to form, lined with elderly faces and a sprinkling of tourists when the Ely Standard visits.

"When we go, the artists will have lost another outlet for showing their work," said Mrs Mustill, "and Ely has lost another independent business. Trading is harder for everybody at the moment, but we've still been busy. I think John Ambrose has reached the age where he's just had enough. He's fairly elderly and doesn't want the responsibility I suppose."

Steeple Gate was snapped up almost as soon as it came on the market and it will become an upmarket tearoom on both ground and first floor, joining the tens of others already in the town.

Steeple Gate stalwarts Judy Chalcraft, manager, Dawn Mustill, senior manager, and Dia Miller, manager.

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