Chapel remains found in King’s Lynn to be buried again

The 14th-century chapel remains uncovered during the Saturday Market Place renovation, which look set to be reburied MLNF14PM10106
The 14th-century chapel remains uncovered during the Saturday Market Place renovation, which look set to be reburied MLNF14PM10106
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Historical remains of a 14th-century charnel chapel uncovered during refurbishment of Lynn’s Saturday Market Place will be buried once more.

Experts have considered ways of keeping the remains on view but have advised the best way to preserve them would be to cover them again.

The chapel remains in Saturday Market Place MLNF14PM10105

The chapel remains in Saturday Market Place MLNF14PM10105

Nick Daubney, leader of West Norfolk Council, said: “Heritage is very important to us and over the years we have spent a lot of money in ensuring that our heritage is preserved.

“In doing this we have always listened to the advice of the experts to ensure that we are doing the right thing. “Whilst I have some sympathy with those in the community who would like to see these remains left visible, I do feel we should listen to the experts again, and their opinion is that the best way to preserve this bit of heritage is to rebury it.”

The proposal is to take a detailed log and photographs of what has been uncovered and create an information board at the site. In addition, the footprint of the buried remains would be marked on the new surfaces. In the York stone area this would be done by water cutting the outline of the charnel chapel walls and then infilling with metal and then putting studs to mark the chapel outline in the tarmac.

Mr Daubney said: “I am confident that with the surface markings and the interpretation boards, this find will still draw the attention of visitors to that end of town, whilst ensuring that we do not do anything to damage what we have found.”

Experts met at the site this week and also debated two other options. Those were to leave the trench open and put railings around or covering it with glass.

A council statement said leaving the trench open was thought to be troublesome as the trench could fill with rubbish and water and the remains would deteriorate.

It was felt a glass covering could encourage the growth of algae, the statement added. There would also be technical issues with keeping it watertight. In addition the glass would either have to be strong enough for vehicles to drive over or the area fenced off and excavation works would be needed around the area to install it, which could damage the remains.

Alison Gifford, chairman of Lynn Civic Society, said she felt there ought to be public consultation on the best solution.

She said: “I would like to see consultation so that all points of view could be brought to bear.”

The historic chapel, built in the 1,300s, would have been used as a substitute when the church was out of use for some reason, but its main use was for the storage of bones.

When the churchyard became full, the old bones would be dug up and piled into the undercroft of the chapel to make space for new bodies.

Miss Gifford said: “There has always been a problem with overcrowding in graveyards especially in times of the black death and plague. Hardwick Cemetery was the first cemetery to relieve the problem.”

The chapel was demolished in 1798 and a shambles – where butchers old their meat – built on the site. Remains of the chapel’s foundations were buried beneath. The top floor of the shambles building housed the grammar school where explorer George Vancouver was educated and murderer Eugene Aram worked before his crime.