Join investigation into subterranean Spalding

Geof Taylor invetigates Spalding tunnels ANL-150722-155354001
Geof Taylor invetigates Spalding tunnels ANL-150722-155354001
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We all know about the monks who once used the abbey’s secret tunnels to make their way unseen around Spalding.

Or the buildings in the town centre with concealed tunnels giving direct access to the river.

Priors Oven tunnel, Spalding'Jason Watson on spiral staircase down to cellar ANL-150721-175804001

Priors Oven tunnel, Spalding'Jason Watson on spiral staircase down to cellar ANL-150721-175804001

Most of us have a fascination for the idea of people moving surreptitiously in tunnels hidden beneath our very feet.

Which is perhaps why Geoff Taylor, chairman of the Friends of Chain Bridge Forge in Spalding, hears so many stories about them.

So many, in fact, that Geoff decided to do some investigation of his own.

He says: “I keep hearing stories about tunnels and priory foundations under Spalding. I would have thought it unlikely due to flooding, but the stories keeping coming.”

For instance, Geoff has heard there was a tunnel from the old Berrills store that went to Bridge Street and that Bingham Woods once had a tunnel leading to the river.

He says: “There are also rumours that the priory had tunnels that went to Monks House and various other places and may be visible in the Prior’s Oven.

“There are also priory wall foundations visible in the basement of the shops along the Sheep Market, I believe.”

Donning deerstalker – or getting his mobile fired up to take pictures – Geoff set off in pursuit of his quest: are Spalding’s tunnels myth or fact?

Jason Watson, manager at the Prior’s Oven, has some evidence, although it is second-hand.

When it first opened as a micro pub, Jason says a Mr Atkins, whose mother once ran her bakery business there, came into the Prior’s Oven.

A spiral staircase leads down to the cellar, where the floor has been raised and the left-hand side filled in to prevent damp.

Mr Atkins told Jason he remembers as a boy being able to see the brick outline of a tunnel in the left-hand side of the cellar that is now blocked up.

At Bingham Woods, the independent financial advisors in Bridge Street, the evidence of a blocked-up tunnel is still clearly visible in Geoff’s photograph taken in the basement.

However, Geoff throws cold water on this glimmer of evidence by saying: “I think it’s far more likely to be a coal hole as lots of buildings had them.”

In fact, Geoff admits: “I have virtually zero hard evidence.”

However, he’s a great believer in “doing” rather than reading about history, and wants readers to help him in his investigations – but only if they have real evidence and not just another story about Spalding’s tunnel network.