Bailiffs move in to repossess historic Burnham Thorpe pub

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There are fears for the future of a historic West Norfolk pub today after it was repossessed by its owners.

Bailiffs moved in to the Lord Nelson in Burnham Thorpe on Tuesday morning in an apparent dispute between Greene King, which owns the building, and its former licensees.

An investigation has also been launched into whether heritage rules may have been broken at the site, most famous for its links to the naval hero whose name it bears.

Greene King has confirmed that the pub will be shut for the foreseeable future, until a new landlord is found.

A spokesman said: “The Lord Nelson is a popular and historic pub and one that we are proud to own.

“It would be inappropriate to comment on any specifics of the relationship with the previous occupiers at this time, but we wish to reassure guests that our focus is on the best possible outcome for the Lord Nelson and its future as a pub.

“It is our intention to re-open for trading as soon as possible and we are seeking a new licensee to take the business forward.”

West Norfolk Council has confirmed its officers are looking into whether rules relating to the pub’s status as a listed building have been breached.

A spokesman said: “We are currently investigating which, if any, of the contents of the building are included in its listing.

“It may be that furniture is classified as fixtures and fittings, and this needs to be clarified before any further steps are taken.”

The former licensees, Peter and Deborah DeGroeve, told the BBC they had been advised not to comment on the issue by their lawyer.

Greene King said: “The pub’s fixtures and fittings were owned by the departing operators. We regret their loss from the pub, but these were not items belonging to Greene King.

“We asked about purchasing the items, but our request was declined.

“We will ensure that we replace them appropriately as part of our planned refurbishment and relaunch.”

But Burnham Thorpe villager Judith Brown said that assurance was inadequate.

She said: “It’s part of our history. The fear is we now have lost it all.”

The pub was built in 1637 and would have been well known to Horatio Nelson, who was born in the village as the son of the rector in 1758. Nelson held a dinner there for the men of the village prior to his departure to join HMS Agamemnon.