Bodies in Gorleston Wetherspoon crypt reburied as details emerge of their stories

A tent is erected on the site of the Gorleston Wetherspoon pub after the crypt discovery. Picture: D

A tent is erected on the site of the Gorleston Wetherspoon pub after the crypt discovery. Picture: Dennis Payne - Credit: Dennis Payne

Details of the bodies found in a crypt beneath the site of Gorleston's new JD Wetherspoon pub have been revealed - though their identities will likely never be known for certain.

A plaque to mark the reburial of bodies discovered at the Gorleston Wetherspoon site. Picture: Denni

A plaque to mark the reburial of bodies discovered at the Gorleston Wetherspoon site. Picture: Dennis Payne - Credit: Dennis Payne

An archeologist hired by the pub chain company has ascertained the bodies were a man and woman, who were thought to have died between 1850 and 1880.

They were discovered by workmen last month on the site, which had been a Methodist Chapel.

The bodies have now been exhumed and re-buried at Magdalen Way.

Dennis Payne, director of Archaeoserv, said: 'We believe it is a man and a woman and can say with relative certainty that they were connected to the Methodist Church, and people of importance.

A crypt is discovered on the site of the Gorleston Wetherspoon, Picture: Dennis Payne

A crypt is discovered on the site of the Gorleston Wetherspoon, Picture: Dennis Payne - Credit: Dennis payne

'The bodies were very degraded and we could not tell what they were wearing, though the male body had some sort of bonnet or hat on.

'The bones had both degraded to powder.'

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After consultation with the local Methodist Church, it was decided the bodies would be given new resting places, with Magdalen Way decided as the most appropriate location.

Mr Payne added: 'We think they date from the rebuilding of the chapel and were buried around that time. Methodists were very independent thinkers and weren't in full co-operation with the Church of England, so we think they would have paid to be buried in this specific place.

'We have not been able to find their names and have researched, but at the moment can only guess. We believe they may have been either benefactors of the chapel or the minister and his wife'.

It is believed the male body was likely buried before the female.

Further excavations were carried out, but no further discoveries were made.

The original Methodist chapel was built on the High Street site in 1807. It was later demolished in 1844, with foundation stones being laid for a new one in its place.

It is thought this second chapel contained the crypt.

The pub will be called the William Adams and is due to open in November.

A plaque commemorating the pair and marking their reburial has been made, however contractors will welcome contributions towards a headstone. Contact Sandersons contractors on 01977 664620.

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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