Councillor suggests fundraiser for £3m gap in costs to restore historic guildhall

A row over funding for the revamp of a town’s historic Guildhall with links to Shakespeare has taken an unlikely turn after a councillor called for a ‘GoFundMe’ page to be set up to plug a £3m gap in costs.

Stuart Dark, who leads the Conservative group at West Norfolk Council, has suggested a fundraiser be created to help raise funds towards the multi-million-pound restoration of St George’s Guildhall in Lynn.

It comes a week after archaeologists announced they had discovered 600-year-old floorboards at the theatre, which may have once provided a stage for the bard himself.

St George's Guildhall in Lynn
St George’s Guildhall in Lynn

In a motion to the council, which will hold its full council meeting this evening, Mr Dark called for the administration to instruct officers to explore creating a GoFundMe fundraiser to hopefully generate public and business donations off the back of the interest in the Grade I-listed building’s links to the wordsmith.

St George’s Guildhall has been at the centre of an ongoing row over funding for its regeneration, which has been estimated to cost at least £12m.

Currently, a pot of £9m has been put towards the costs from the £25m Town Deal Fund.

The medieval floorboards have recently been discovered at St George's Guildhall in King's Lynn
The medieval floorboards have recently been discovered at St George’s Guildhall in King’s Lynn

The previous Conservative-led administration under Cllr Dark attempted to secure £3m in funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHS), with the council promising to underwrite this cost.

The bid failed, leaving West Norfolk Council with a £3m deficit toward the revamp

Shortly after his election as leader in May, Terry Parish and his Independent group said it could not promise “money it doesn’t have” but that they would support any effort to find other sources of funding.

St George’s Guildhall, which is known to have been visited by Shakespeare in the 1500s, was at one point threatened with being demolished in 1945.

West Norfolk Cllr Stuart Dark
West Norfolk Cllr Stuart Dark

It was subsequently saved and later was turned into an arts venue.

It is hoped the discovery will help boost the guildhall’s hopes of securing funding for its future.