Hidden for many years, a fireplace containing two large copper kettles has been finally revealed as builders start to transform Lynn’s Town Hall.
The ground floor of the historic building complex has been stripped away to reveal original vaulting and masonry during a £2,650,600 project.
The town hall is getting a make-over, funded by a £1,850,600 Heritage Lottery grant with an £800,000 investment from West Norfolk Council, to improve access to the site, along with showcasing Lynn’s economic and social history.
Builders began work in April to convert the former Gaol House, Regalia Room and Archive section into the Stories of Lynn exhibition, which will open next year.
During the work an 18th century fireplace was uncovered in the undercroft store room and will become a feature when it opens as a resource area.
Project officer and principal surveyor Mark Fuller said two other fireplaces were also discovered in the room about a month ago.
He said: “It is one of the joys when working on a project like this, as you never know what you will find.
“The fireplaces were known to be there, but it was quite a pleasant surprise to find the vessels.
“The suggestion is that the fireplaces were used as kitchens to probably support the council chamber and entertainment happening on the first floor.”
One of the major challenges facing builders in the project is to create a flood and fire proof concrete box, which will house irreplaceable documents such as the Red Register.
A number of internal partition walls between store rooms and steel joints have been inserted. The next stage is for the installation of the new concrete box.
Mr Fuller said: “The research room was tucked away and not very visible but we will have a glass screen. This is a nationally important archive and deserves to be known.”
Stripping away the displays and facades in the Regalia Room have revealed some of the original columns and vaulted rib structure.
Eventually this will become the main exhibition space. Two original openings have been reformed to lead into the treasury area, formally an office, which will now house the town’s treasures such as the King John Cup.
The original jail cells and exercise yard still remain and will also feature in the new exhibition.
A building at the back of the hall had been carefully removed to make way for a new lift and stair extension, to improve access to the upper floor, which is largely unaffected by the project, although there will be some re-decoration. Building work is due to finish in the autumn and will be followed by fitting work.