King’s Lynn – A Fair Town

24Jan10

The reason that this post is here is all explained elsewhere.

I was going to start this by blathering on about how much I love the city of Norwich as a preamble to my list of King’s Lynn’s delights – this was in some small part because of the assertion on it’s signage that it’s ‘a fine city’ (a quote I now find that is stolen from George Borrow (yes him again)). However disappointingly certain chumps in the City Council seem to be attempting (although hopefully not succeeding) a fuck awful rebrand with ‘Norwich – England’s other city’, with doesn’t actually make any sense and isn’t particularly needed. So I’ll leave Norwich to it’s own devices and stick to helping with the rebranding of King’s Lynn with my own top ten delights of this ‘fair town’.

01

To start with we have Robinson Cruso. Who according to the above – which can be found in the chapel next door to where I work (St Nicholas for reference) – died on the 6th August 1794 at the (for the time) very respectful age of 62.

It’s not clear whether Daniel Defoe took the name for his novel from this individual as Robinson Crusoe (with an e) was published in 1719 and Defoe is only reported to have come to Lynn in the mid 1700’s. However I’d like to think it’s not wholly co-incidental.

02

Just a few further feet from my office I can enjoy a coffee at the Duke’s Head Hotel (albeit that it’s in administration at the moment – although still open) where Sir Robert Walpole, Britain’s first Prime Minister (and MP for the area), was a frequent patron and where his supporters held several balls to celebrate his election to Parliament. Admittedly it’s glamour is somewhat faded but hey that’s the kind of glamour I like.

03

These kind of plaques litter most towns and cities and on the whole are widely ignored. This particular plaque is on the route I used to take on my walk to work many years ago.

Joe Dines won twenty four amateur international caps and played at half-back in all three matches Great Britain played in at the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, culminating in the 4-2 win over Denmark which resulted in Joe (and the Great British team) picking up a gold medal.

04

And then we come to another great man, namely Mr Frederick Savage whose fame came through (in part) the invention of a system for running fairground carousel rides – developed as an aside to his work making agricultural equipment at the St Nicholas Ironworks. He later became Mayor of the town and this statue that welcomes those arriving via the South Gates was funded by subscriptions from the people of King’s Lynn.

05

Which brings us to this carousel horse – made by Savages and used at some point on the King’s Lynn Mart – a fair that’s held annually in the Tuesday Market Place since a Charter granted by King John in the 12th Century. It’s loathed and loved in equal measure – mostly dependent on age which always seems a shame given it’s relatively brief appearance in the town, (especially given how long it’s been with us).

This horse used to be found hidden under the back stairs of the Duke’s Head Hotel however in recent weeks it’s disappeared (probably something to do with the financial situation the hotel finds itself in). Any ideas where it’s gone ?

06

Unlike it’s namesake Seahenge, which was first discovered in 1998, is hewn from wood rather than rock – and due to it’s somewhat perilous original location a deal of controversy occurred when it first appeared about what should happen to it – after all it had been in place since around 2049 BC (an alarmingly specific date).

After much discussion however it was eventually moved from the North Norfolk coast by English Heritage who worked on it’s preservation before returning it to reside at the Lynn Museum in King’s Lynn.

07

One of my favourite places in King’s Lynn is the Majestic Cinema – it even has a great name eh ? An independent cinema which I’ve visited for years and years and a beautiful independent cinema at that. Built in 1927 it features a fine interior taken from the Empire Theatre in London’s Leicester Square which was being renovated at the time. A more handsome cinema you’ll find hard to find.

08

Again only a few hundred yards from my office is this diamond-shape with a heart carved in the centre, which appears above a first floor window in the nearby Tuesday Market Square (and yes you’d be right there is a market on Tuesdays). The reason for this ? Well according to local legend the Market Place was host to the famous witch trial of Margaret Read in 1590, where it was reported that, when burnt at the stake, her heart burst and struck this nearby wall.

09

I’ve worked in King’s Lynn for many years and no one has ever mentioned that Vaughan Williams once visited the town (and more specifically the pub that this plaque appears on the side of) looking for local folk songs – and collected sixty one in a week . .

10

And finally my absolute favourite building in King’s Lynn, the Campbell’s Tower, and included because thanks to the evil empire that is Tesco it might not be around for long. Easily the most iconic building in the town and it seems also one of the most expendable.

So there we have it, ten delightful aspects of King’s Lynn.



8 Responses to “King’s Lynn – A Fair Town”

  1. 1 Cathy

    Lynn through your eyes is a bit wonderful, isn’t it?

    I love the Robinson Cruso grave at St Nick’s! Can’t be a coincidence can it? It’s an uncommon name! (and my Dad worked in the building next door to St Nick’s, so you may have known each other!)

    That carousel horse in the Dukes’ used to fascinate me as a child. We’d go in and have coffee in the lounge there on a Tuesday and I would go off and stare at it for hours whilst the grown up’s talked. So many fond memories.

  2. 2 danielweiresq

    I think that’s kind of the point I was trying to make. It is wonderful because everywhere has it’s delightful points regardless of how dull a place appears initially. For instance I was in Swaffham in the summer sat waiting for Mrs Weir – and I happen to sit on this :

    Swaffham Settlement Stone, Swaffham [020709]

    which I looked quite unassuming until I looked around and found this :

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/15134271@N03/3683921080/in/photostream/

    explaining what it was.

    Amazing eh ? And at the same time ignored by all who passed by.

    DW x

  3. 3 danielweiresq

    And as for your dad – indeed I might have . . . feel free to confess your identity via a DM !

    DW x

  4. 4 Cathy

    My Dad was a planner for the Borough Council, probably before your time but he came back to do some consultancy work two years ago – is it the awful orange building you work in?

  5. 5 danielweiresq

    Thanks for the comment Harry and apologies for the late reply . . . I hope you don’t mind but I’ve raised your comments up the bill to the front page.

    DW x


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