About Us

150 years ago in 1874, our great grandfather Henry Sneezum started our independent family run business aged 17 years old. Our first store was on Fore Street in Ipswich where he became a pawnbroker, clothier and jeweller.
Sneezums has continued through the generations, now being run by Elizabeth and Yvonne in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, where we have built strong relationships direct with a vast range of manufacturers to sell their jewellery, watches and clocks, binoculars, spotting scopes, telescopes, photographic equipment, gifts and much more.
Four generations later, we launched our online store in support and celebration of 150 years on the High Street. 


The end of an era.  Historic family run Bury St Edmunds jewellers and photographic retailers to close after 150 years

Successful Sneezums Jewellers and Photographic Retailers, established by the Sneezum family in Ipswich in 1874, is to shut its doors for the final time later this year after 150 years of trading.

Situated on the Cornhill and in Central Walk, Bury St Edmunds, Sneezums has announced the forthcoming closure of the high street store. The decision comes as partners Elizabeth Sneezum and Yvonne Scotford-Sneezum prepare to retire. The business will close the store on 28th September 2024 with the online business continuing to operate for up to three months.

Current fourth generation Sneezum owners, Elizabeth and Yvonne, said “It is with heavy hearts that we announce the closure of our family business.  Unfortunately, we do not have anyone in the family to continue our legacy. Our decision was not made lightly and after much consideration and reflection we have decided to retire to spend precious quality time with our families and pursue other interests.”

The Sneezums business is steeped in rich history.  Originally established in 1874 on Fore Street in Ipswich by Elizabeth and Yvonne’s great-grandfather, Henry Sneezum, the business began as a jeweller, pawnbroker, and clothier.

In the early 1900s under the second generation owners, Henry and Ray Sneezum, 14-20 Fore Street became H&R Sneezum and expanded its services to encompass gold and silver refining, bullion dealing and gunsmithing in addition to selling a diverse array of goods including; jewellery, photographic equipment, fireworks, tools, clothing and sports and musical equipment. During the war years and the gold rush, the business smelted gold and sent daily deliveries of the smelt to London by train.

The business expanded over the coming years to a total of ten shops located in Ipswich, Rayleigh, Thetford and Bury St Edmunds involving third-generation family partners Neville, Derrick, and Aubrey, who was Elizabeth and Yvonne’s father.

The Walter Sneezum shop at 5 St John’s Street Bury St Edmunds, originally owned by Walter Sneezum from around 1890, was taken over by second generation owner Henry Sneezum (grandfather to Elizabeth and Yvonne) and Richard and Ray Sneezum, Henry’s brothers, in 1946.

The Sneezums business on the Cornhill in Bury St Edmunds was purchased in 1951, originally trading as W J Cook & Son, as a picture frame maker, china, glass and fancy goods merchant. The business grew during the 1950’s to also become a photographic retailer.

The building on Cornhill was redeveloped in the mid to late 1960’s and was reopened in 1971 by Clive Dunn from Dad’s Army. On reopening in 1971 on the Cornhill, Sneezums expanded with selling jewellery, watches, gifts, binoculars, telescopes, televisions, hi-fi, telephones and even a record department. In 2008 Sneezums closed for several weeks, undergoing a full major refurbishment.

Elizabeth and Yvonne expressed their gratitude, stating,
“For generations, we have had the privilege of being at the heart of the Bury St Edmund’s community. Over the 150 years of trading, our business has evolved to be more than a commercial venture; it has become a cornerstone of our family’s heritage and a cherished part of our lives. Our dedicated staff and customers have played a pivotal role in our journey. We extend our heartfelt appreciation to our exceptionally loyal staff, many of whom have dedicated over 20 years to Sneezums and some who have spent their entire working lives with us, including our longest-serving current member with 48 years. With seven current valued members on our team, we are eternally grateful for their unwavering loyalty. Alongside the loyalty and dedication of our customers, this has been instrumental in allowing Sneezums to thrive for 150 years over four generations.” 

They added, “It will be a very sad and emotional day when we bid farewell to our family business.  We take pride in knowing we are one of the oldest remaining independent family businesses in Bury St Edmunds. As we embark on our final months of trading, we treasure the countless memories that have enriched our journey.”

The high street store will close on 28th September 2024, whilst their online shop will continue for up to 3 months following on from that date.