Strolling the Historic Centre
We visited King’s Lynn one sunny morning, a town with quite a significant amount of maritime history, just before heading off to the Sandringham Estate (HM the Queen’s Christmas retreat).
King’s Lynn is one of the few Hanseatic towns in the UK, during the 14th century The Hanse defensive alliance was set up in Europe, this league included significant seaports & market towns. During this era, King’s Lynn in the East of England was one of our most important ports for sea trade.
Many historical buildings from this period remain today along the cobbled streets and on the banks of the River Great Ouse, Custom houses, Guildhalls, warehouses & a large communal market square.
On locating the 17th-century Customs House in Purfleet Quay, we also found that this is now the local tourist office, so armed with a map we set off to discover the historical centre of King’s Lynn.
Custom House was King’s Lynn’s first classical building and originally used as a merchant’s exchange. The House was built in this prime location to witness the comings and goings in this once busy port.
Strolling around this pleasant Quay, you’ll wander into King’s Staithe Square, still used through the 18th century for trading in corn & wine.
Tuesday Market Place
Walking into Tuesday Market Place was quite a surprise, considering the size of King’s Lynn this is rather a grand square and quite a quirky name.
Within the same square is the Corn Exchange, an elegant building with a classical façade, built in 1854 and where merchants and farmers traded their wares.
On the opposite side of Tuesday Market Place, is The Duke’s Head, this striking Inn was built as a coaching house in 1685 and was used by many local traders for business including ship auctions.
In contrast, The Maid’s Head just next door was frequented by a slightly lesser clientele of local smugglers.
It all builds up quite an image as to how this bustling town was in its heydey.
The North End
True’s Yard is a museum dedicated to the fisher folk who worked in the old fishing quarter at ‘The North End’ and was opened by HRH Prince of Wales in 1993.
Continue along St Ann’s Street is St Nicholas Chapel, the name given as St Nicholas was the patron saint of sailors and merchants.
Opposite the chapel is another wonderful example of a merchant’s house ‘The Tudor Rose’ which was built around 1500.
All of these buildings give so much character to King’s Lynn.
Turning right from Custom House you follow along Queen Street, once again the cobbled lanes full of charm and some wonderful historic architecture.
Heading towards Saturday Market Place, the chequerboard style building on your left is King’s Lynn Town Hall & Trinity Guildhall. Through the 19th-century the merchants would have used the Guildhall as a base to stamp their authority across the town.
Dominating the view opposite is the wonderful St Margaret’s, Minster. Originally built around 1100, the Priory Church has grown over the years, and in 2011 the Bishop of Norwich designated St Margaret’s as a Minster Church.
All around the surrounding area of Nelson Street are merchants houses and the Hanseatic warehouses dating from 1475. Constructed around a narrow court, the large warehouses were owned by Hanseatic League merchants until around 1751.
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