Mysterious six foot hole appears behind shop

A large hole has appeared in the ground at the back of Holland and Barrett and Parkyns in Stowmarket

A large hole has appeared in the ground at the back of Holland and Barrett and Parkyns in Stowmarket. - Credit: Archant

Mystery surrounds the appearance of a six foot hole behind a shop in Stowmarket.

Holland and Barrett, in Market Place, was forced to close today after the void was discovered, which left a small section of the building overhanging the hole.

Local historian, Steve Williams, is at a loss to explain the hole, but suggested it could be an ice box or a cellar. He ruled out the “urban legend” of a tunnel running from Abbott’s Hall to the church of St Peter and St Mary on Church Walk.

Mr Williams, who is the official archivist for the town’s history group, said: “It’s alright having these fanciful ideas, which we are still investigating, but it’s too early to make any conclusions about it.

“It’s an intriguing little find. Historically speaking there’s something there but what it is I’d be reluctant to say.

“I would imagine it was an alley off an existing cellar, probably no more than that.

“I don’t know if we’ll ever find out.”

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Mr Williams said most of the properties in the Market Place are from the 15th Century, but none of the cellars came from that period.

He added that until the early 1970s, the Market Place would flood under heavy rain and cellars would regularly be flooded quite badly, and that any tunnel, if there was one, would have been destroyed by the flooding.

The hole was first spotted by the business next door, estate agents Parkyns.

Jake Gathercole, lettings manager at Parkyns, said: “It’s a fairly big hole, “We found it by pure luck.

We don’t know where it goes or how long it’s been there.”

A spokeswoman for Holland and Barrett said the store would be closed until the site was made safe.

A spokesman for the East of England Co-Op said: “Our priority is to make sure the building is safe and as far as we know it’s not a major structural issue.

“We had to make sure nobody was to get hurt, which fortunately hasn’t happened.”