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Works on Wetherspoon pub William Adams in Gorleston put on hold after crypt discovery

PUBLISHED: 19:55 15 June 2017 | UPDATED: 08:22 16 June 2017

Work has halted on the site of the WIlliam Adams in Gorleston. Picture: David Hannant

Work has halted on the site of the WIlliam Adams in Gorleston. Picture: David Hannant

Archant

Building work on Gorleston’s first JD Wetherspoon pub has been abruptly halted after the discovery of a crypt.

The former Methodist chapel on the site of Gorleston's new Wetherspoons. Picture: Ben MilnerThe former Methodist chapel on the site of Gorleston's new Wetherspoons. Picture: Ben Milner

While clearing the site on Gorleston High Street, which most recently contained GT Motors, workman unearthed a crypt, containing at least two bodies.

The unusual discovery has now brought work on the site to a temporary halt, while the company seeks permission to remove the crypt.

JD Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “Our workmen discovered a crypt at the Gorleston site with at least two burials inside. There will be a delay before these can be removed as an exhumation licence 
will need to be granted before any removal can take place.

“This has been applied for.”

An artist's impression of the William Adams pub at Gorleston. Picture: JD WetherspoonAn artist's impression of the William Adams pub at Gorleston. Picture: JD Wetherspoon

Prior to GT Motors opening, the site was home to a Methodist chapel, which was ravaged by bombs in the second world war and is thought to have been connected with the burial.

Mr Gershon added: “The Methodist Church are in the process of being informed in case of living relatives and the future of the remains.

“The Norfolk Historical Environment Team have been contacted and they will be visiting the site to have a meeting with contractors.

“In the meantime all work has stopped on the site.”

The chapel, which was built in 1844, changed hands a number of times in its time, before being damaged by bombing and fire and subsequently closed. It was later sold in 1959 for £700.

Historian Ben Milner, writer of A history of Methodism in East Norfolk, said: “A crypt is very unusual for a Methodist church and I have never heard of one before this. Even a cemetery is unusual - the only one I know of is at Freethorpe.

“In terms of when the crypt was built and who is buried inside, it is difficult to guess. At each change of ownership a new set of trustees were in place, so quite a number of people have had close association with it.”

It is not the first time the pub - to be called The William Adams - has been delayed. It was scheduled to be opened on July 18, however, this date was put back to October.

It was named after more than 1,000 people cast votes in a poll to pick a name, settling on The William Adams after a former bathing hut attendant of the town credited with saving 140 people from drowning in the 1800s.

History of Methodist chapels on the site

The site has been home to two Methodist chapels.

The first was built in 1807 and was a Methodist New Connexion chapel.

In 1812 it was bought by a river pilot called Mr Dawson and became a Wesleyan Methodist chapel.

Growing in popularity, this chapel was demolished in 1844, with foundation stones being laid for a new chapel. It is thought this new chapel contained the crypt.

In 1851, it was closed and sold to the Wesleyan Reform Movement - an alternative Methodist branch - and reopened.

In 1907 it then became a United Methodist Chapel, before being made into a Methodist Chapel in 1932, following the merger of three branches - Wesleyans, Primitives and United.

During the second world war it was damaged by bombing and fire and closed. A £2,000 insurance claim received went towards building

Magdalen Way Methodist Church.

It was sold in 1959 for £700.

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