‘Treasure trove’ found at Barnstaple chip shop

Kelvin Reay, owner of Starfish fish and chip restaurant in Barnstaple, studies the historic items fo

Kelvin Reay, owner of Starfish fish and chip restaurant in Barnstaple, studies the historic items found in the kitchen wall of the former Lloyds Chambers bank vault. - Credit: Archant

Renovation of the new Starfish fish and chip restaurant at the Square has turned up more than its owner was expecting.

The small hoard of personal treasures discovered in the kitchen wall of the former bank vault at Sta

The small hoard of personal treasures discovered in the kitchen wall of the former bank vault at Starfish in Barnstaple. - Credit: Archant

GOLDEN batter is not the only treasure to be unearthed at Barnstaple’s newest fish and chip restaurant Starfish.

While working on the kitchen in what used to be the bank vault of the former Lloyds Chambers building at the Square, owner Kelvin Reay has discovered a small cache of hidden coins and rings.

Stored in a small silver cream jug and plugged with an old page from a Bideford Gazette, Mr Reay found a Victorian wedding band, a Georgian garnet ring, a Victorian silver sixpence and an Elizabethan silver shilling dated 1571.

Whether the intriguing find is in some way related to the old vault, or perhaps a former employee’s sentimental hoard of personal treasures, no one could tell, but property developer Mr Reay is delighted his new venture has begun on such providence.


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“I think it’s lovely and it’s obviously something that had sentimental value, it’s not as if I found a roll of old fivers,” he said.

“It’s fascinating and worth a lot to me that I found it – to think that someone in Barnstaple might have spent that shilling at around the time ships from the town were going to meet the Spanish Armada.”

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The small treasures are unlikely to set Sotheby’s alight and Mr Reay said he would probably donate them to Barnstaple Museum: “I feel they should stay in Barnstaple, they’ve been found here and should stay here,” he added.

“I just think it’s interesting that this building has gone through such a metamorphosis of being a bank, a book shop, an optician, a pub and now a fish and chip restaurant.

“I have wanted to do this for 20 years, to make the best fish and chip restaurant, but I have been waiting for the right site. We have spent £250,000 to create what we consider to be the smartest fish and chip shop in Devon.”

Starfish is now open for business from 10am-9pm, six days a week.

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