Past, present and future is the theme of NJ Architects 25th celebration

Our 25th anniversary celebration was attended by two very special guests who helped to tell the real story behind NJ Architects. The pair – the oldest and youngest attendees of the party – epitomised the past and present position of our multi-award-winning Ipswich practice, which has a colourful backstory – and a bright future.

The littlest guest was Nicholas Jacob’s grandson and the son of Pippa Jacob, five-month-old Jude – possibly a budding architect of the future! We were also joined by Maggie Andrews who was with the firm from the day it was founded.

Back in the 1980s, long before NJ Architects was even the seed of an idea, Maggie was Office Manager for a man named Peter Cleverly. He was an English architect whose great-grandfather, Charles St George Cleverly, was responsible for the original layout of Hong Kong, and whose grandfather Professor Frederick Moore Simpson was the author of A History of Architectural Development. Like his ancestors, Peter Cleverly wanted to make an impact in the sector but although he originally set his sights on transformation in London he became disgusted with the onslaught of high-rise developments going up in the city and, in the 1960s, he left to start his own practice in Suffolk.

Here, he certainly made an impression.

He specialised in conserving churches and ancient houses, and collaborated with the National Trust, carrying out restoration work at Felbrigg Hall, Norfolk, the Rotunda at Ickworth, Suffolk, Thorington Hall, Stoke by Nayland, Suffolk, Flatford Mill, Essex, Bourne Mill, Essex, and Paycocke’s, Coggeshall, Essex, among other places. In fact, at one point 85 medieval churches were in his care, he had written a number of books but two of these were on his life as an architect, and had become instrumental in campaigning for the sensitive conversion of traditional East Anglian barns into houses. It was this passion for Suffolk’s history that led him to meet – and work with – Nicholas Jacob, who shared that desire to preserve, protect, renovate and restore.

The pair formed Cleverly and Jacob in the 80’s which later merged with Purcell Miller Tritton. Here Nick was a senior partner, Hugh Bunbury an associate and Shaun Soanes a technologist – and this trio remained at the helm of NJ Architects when it was subsequently formed 10 years later and with the practice to this day.

Which brings us back to Maggie Andrews.

When NJ Architects was formed in 1996, it made perfect sense for her to stay with the team she had grown so fond of.
She worked for NJ Architects as office manager, along with secretary Sarah Wiffin who was also formerly an employee of Cleverly and Jacob, until her retirement 17 years ago.

To have her join us on Friday at The Gallery in Ipswich to toast our success therefore meant a huge amount.
She provides that very tangible link to our past – our foundations, while Jude provides the excitement and expectation that comes with all new life – our future.

We are incredibly proud of the practice we have created together, our achievements of the last 25 years and the prospects we have to continue to build on that success.

Here’s to another 25 years!

Here is a gallery of more photos from the party.

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