Historic dig at pub site

HISTORIC artefacts possibly dating back to the 13th century could be unearthed if a Gorleston pub is demolished, according to local archaeologists.

The Gorleston Heritage Group (GOSH) has written to Great Yarmouth Borough Council calling for an archaeological dig at the White Horse pub in Beccles Road, which sits on the site of a former Augustinian Priory dating back to 1267. Developer John Scott has submitted an application to demolish the pub and build seven two-storey houses and 10 flats with allocated parking spaces.

Doreen Thuell, from GOSH, said: “I am concerned about the White Horse pub and the possibility there could be an archaeological dig. We wrote to the planning officer to ask for an archaeological survey because it is on the site of an old Augustinian Priory.

“Great Yarmouth Archaeological Society did a dig there and found pottery, but there is nothing left of the Priory except for a bit of old stone wall.”

The Priory was home to friars of the Mendicant order who settled in the area between High Road and Beccles Road. By 1277, there were 20 friars at the site. The learned group were also avid book collectors and it is understood there was a library on site, while the church measured 175ft long and 42ft wide.

Priories across the country were suppressed in 1538 during Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries, the land sold and buildings demolished or put to other uses.

A few remains of the buildings were still standing in the 18th and early 19th century including the Great West Gate on the south side of the Wheelwrights Arms pub a short distance from the White Horse in Beccles Road.

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The developer’s agent Andrew Middleton said Mr Scott planned to sell the new homes on the free market. He added the developer was negotiating with planning officers at the council over the possibility of keeping the former pub building, as planners were opposed to the demolition.

The pub closed in July last year after landlady Jacqueline Ellis called time on her business, citing the recession, rising rents and the smoking ban as the reasons behind her decision to pull her last pints.