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Builders find artefacts dating to 14th century in Colchester pub
COLCHESTER’S oldest pub is getting a new lease of life.
The former Stockwell Arms, in West Stockwell Street, has been undergoing renovations since 2010, with a new building due to be created at the back of the site imminently.
Owner Robert Morgan is spending £1million to bring the historic pub back to life as a family restaurant with real ale.
Although still a building site, it is hoped the Stockwell, as it will be called, will open in October.
The floors are currently soil, the windows and back of the building have to be boarded up every night and the only access to part of the upstairs is from a ladder.
For Mr Morgan, the project has been a labour of love and filled with discoveries.
When he first bought the pub in 2010, he was not sure what to expect.
He and builders put cameras into the ceilings and floorboards and discovered original beams, floors and ceilings dating back to the 14th century, when it was first built.
Mr Morgan, of Little Cornard, Suffolk, said: “I forget how derelict it was.
“It’s hard to not have enthusiasm for continuing.
“Everything you find comes back and pays you off when you find a Georgian coin or an aspect of the building.
“When the builders start to do the modern building, it won’t be half as much fun.”
As well as finding a devil’s tail ceiling and the original wattle and daub walls, Mr Morgan has discovered smaller treasures in the floorboards.
So far, Victorian and Georgian coins have been unearthed and even two dating back to the reign of Edward III from sometime between 1327 and 1377.
Mr Morgan is hoping to get the two dated more accurately in the hope it could give the Stockwell a more accurate date for when it was built.
Currently historians have dated the site back to 1360, but Mr Morgan believes it was built before 1350.
A marrow spoon, buckles and an archer’s ring have also been found under the building.
Some of the best discoveries, however, have come from the Stockwell itself.
A medieval archway dating from the 14th century has been discovered, as has a medieval angel defaced by the reformation and two inglenook fireplaces, all of which will remain on show.
Mr Morgan wants to keep as much of the building accessible to customers as possible and wants to reassure them work at the Stockwell is ongoing.
He said: “Lots of people come by, saying we aren’t making any progress.
“For the last five months we have had nothing but rain and it’s stopping us plastering the outside of the building.
“It needs five days to set. As soon as we get that weather break, it will be going on.”
Plans are already being made for the Stockwell’s grand opening, which will hopefully go ahead in October.
Mr Morgan said the pub would create around 26 to 34 new jobs.