Mystery surrounds sudden closure of The Crown in Fakenham
- Credit: Ian Burt
The former hotel and coaching inn opened as a restaurant and bar last year after being shut for around seven years.
The 17th century building was taken over by landlord James Antcliff-Stone who, for six months, ran a traditional pub offering home-cooked food.
But it has been closed since New Year's Day and people have been taking to social media speculating as to the reasons behind it.
When we spoke to Mr Antcliff-Stone he said he was unable to comment for legal reasons other than to confirm the premises was closed on January 1. He did add that he was 'devastated' by the move.
The Crown has had a difficult few years. It last closed in 2009 with the loss of 15 jobs and was blamed on 'difficult trading conditions'. It came weeks after the closure of the town's Woolworth's store, which stood almost next door, and two years after the interior of the hotel had been given a £100,000 refurbishment.
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But hopes of its revival came back in 2015 when Congham-based architect Andrew Page sought planning permission to knock down a single storey building on the side of the hotel to build five retail units with four flats above.
The plan was also to open up a pathway between the car park behind the development and the Market Place and eventually to reopen the Crown.
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The scheme was granted permission by North Norfolk District Council but the work has yet to be started.
Fakenham mayor Adrian Vertigan said it was 'sad' for the town that the historic coaching inn had closed again.
'We really missed it when it was closed before and last year we felt something had really been returned to Fakenham,' he said.
'I sincerely hope that whatever issues there are can be resolved and it can open again. But it seems such a struggle for new businesses to keep going in this economic climate.
'The building has been here for hundreds of years and it is an important part of the community.'