About The Corner House
The Corner House is a listed building and is rightly recognised as a building of historic national interest (see article below). Ignite have occupied the building for over a decade and use it as the hub of their Braintree town centre operations.
The building features two long-term starter retail units as well as a conference suite and a meeting room where business advice consultations are held. Members of the public interested in starting up a business or in need of business advice are encouraged to pop in to meet with one of our team or to make an appointment for another time. The conference room regularly hosts meetings for local companies and training workshops on a wide range of subjects. Please see our room hire page for more details.
The Corner House feature article
Having pride about where we come from is important to our sense of identity, it makes up who we are. People cheer on national teams, promote regional cuisines and support their family and friends in whatever they do.
Without a strong sense of identity it could be argued that we are weaker in the competition of everyday life and even, less happy. So having pride in a home town or city is fundamental to our wellbeing. Of course, being British we play things down and are renowned for being charming in our modesty, but deep down where we come from is ingrained in who we are.
So what makes Braintree… Braintree? Is it the rich history? The strong economy? Or the active community? One could argue it is all of these and more. Braintree is something different to everyone that lives here, but it is worth remembering that without the buildings there would be no town.
The buildings are layered in years of history, they tell the stories of generations that have lived here and one group of buildings in particular are so important that they have been singled out as of national interest and listed as Grade II.
Making up the heart of the town centre, the Town Hall and The Corner House were built within a year of each other and most likely by famed national architect, Vincent Harris. They resonate in importance not least because the buildings are thought to be one of the first examples of the use of reinforced concrete.
They were paid for and gifted to the town by a philanthropist by the name of William Julien Courtauld, the descendent of one of Braintree’s most famous businessmen. The Courtauld’s made enormous wealth in the town and returned much of what they earned back to the local population. They created schools, parks and gardens throughout Braintree during the 19th and 20th Century. They also blazed a trail for social justice, building not only houses for their workers, but they were also one of the first companies in the country to employ a nurse and fund a crèche for working mothers. One could even say that Braintree was a model for future communities and that it should be protected and admired.
In March 2013, National Heritage decided to list the Corner House as Grade II because: “it is a well-executed example of an inter-war restaurant in an elegant neo-Georgian style… it is part of an architectural legacy of both local and national significance.” The document concluded by saying that “the Corner House had considerable group value with the Town Hall and numerous other Grade II buildings in its immediate vicinity.”
Having been declared important to not only town, but also national identity, it is easy to see why there is a lot of affection for this building. Some Braintree residents may not even know it is there. However, despite not being a restaurant today, it is still serving the community and therefore its original purpose. For well over a decade now, it has been home to Braintree’s award winning and nationally recognised enterprise agency, Ignite Business. As such, the building is connected to almost everything that happens in the District and has helped countless local businesses start-up, succeed and prosper over the years – a legacy that William Julien Courtauld and the Braintree public can certainly be proud of.