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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 July, 2005, 07:57 GMT 08:57 UK
Holy spirit is found under church
Gin bottles
The gin bottles are collected up to allow further research to be done
Historians are puzzled by the discovery of a hidden chamber beneath a Sussex church containing dozens of bottles of gin dating back more than 100 years.

The chamber, 14ft below St Andrew's Church in Waterloo Street, Hove, is near a tunnel believed to link the church to a pub across the road.

It was found by workmen carrying out renovations to the 19th Century church.

"They are all in very good condition - some are still sealed and have liquid in them," said historian Mike Robins.

Bad example

He said the bottles were scattered around the chamber, reached by a ladder from an entrance at street level.

"This area was prone to flooding after heavy rain and the bottles would have floated around."

The tunnel, thought to run under Waterloo Road to the Iron Duke, is believed to have been used by local aristocrats to visit the pub in secret without setting a bad example to their servants.

Mr Robins, who works for the Churches Conservation Trust, said further research was needed before he could say what the Gordon's bottles were doing in the chamber.

"Who knows, maybe a previous vicar was very fond of the old mother's ruin?" he said.

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