Fabulous plans emerge for Plymouth's oldest building and one of its poshest restaurants

Updated: Dec 23, 2019

Plans have been drawn up to transform old space outside the historic Prysten House ahead of the city's 2020 Mayflower celebrations.

A tired forgotten corner is to be turned into a new public square to show off one of Plymouth’s oldest buildings as part of Mayflower 400 preparations.

The area outside the 15th Century Prysten House is to get some love and attention with plans to replace the 1970s paving with beautiful granite paving and an Elizabethan Garden pattern marked out with cobbles. New trees will be planted and new street furniture installed.

A planning application for listed building consent is being submitted this week by the Council so that the work directly outside the former merchant’s house can get underway in the new year. The location is also set to be included on the Mayflower trail.

But it’s not just furniture and floors that are getting a makeover, flora and fauna will be putting on a show for Mayflower, thanks to volunteers from Minster Church of St Andrew’s and the Mayflower Makers.

The group plan to add even more colour in the churchyard overlooking the newly created square and they are using the minister’s magnificent Piper window as inspiration.

The John Piper window in St Andrew’s

John Piper was a major contributor to the artistic landscape of 20th-century Britain. He worked as a painter, printmaker and designer of stained-glass windows and theatre sets. He collaborated with the likes of John Betjeman and Benjamin Britten.

Janet Greaves Stocker, who is organising the volunteer group on behalf of the church, said: “We are bringing the stunning colours from the Piper window outside by replanting the garden. It is going to look glorious. We want more people to stop here and enjoy being in this very special part of Plymouth.”

The volunteers have already put their first planting event in the diary for 26 October and have more planned across the winter. Leader of the Council, Councillor Tudor Evans added:

“Prysten House is a stunning building which survived the Blitz and looks magnificent next to the minister. But it is surrounded by some rather uninspiring concrete.

“That’s going to change. With the help of the lovely volunteers at the minster and the Mayflower Makers, we are going to turn this corner into a place people want to sit and enjoy. Can’t wait.”

Fabulous facts about Prysten House

  • It was originally built in 1498 for Thomas Yogge, a merchant. It’s current tenants are the Greedy Goose

  • It’s home to the Door of Unity, a memorial for two American naval officers buried nearby who died after the battle between the US Navy brig Argus and HMS Pelican in 1813

  • It was never a priest’s house

Fabulous facts about the minster

  • Evidence of Christian community goes back to the 8th Century 1170 – first stone church built

  • Elizabethan seafarers including Drake and Hawkins attended St. Andrew’s

  • Catherine of Aragon also visited

  • 1941 – The church was burnt out and left a roofless shell in the Blitz. Later a board bearing the word ‘RESURGAM’ (I will rise again) appeared over the north door – the sign remains there to this day

  • 1949 – Princess Elizabeth visited to mark start of reconstruction

  • 2009 – St. Andrew’s was awarded minster status in celebration of its significance of the city in the life of the diocese and its historic role

  • 2020 – The minster is throwing itself behind Mayflower commemorations. It will be hosting an exhibition of quilts, quilted banners and embroideries from around the world and a major flower festival

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