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Town History

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The Southgate - Photo: © King's Lynn Online

Originally named Bishop’s Lynn, the town was part of the manor of the Bishop of Norwich in the 12th century. By the 14th century, the town ranked as the third port of England.  It still retains two buildings that were warehouses of the Hanseatic League that were in use between the 15th and 17th centuries.

When Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in 1538, the town and manor became royal property. The names King’s Lynn and Lynn Regis reflect this change. The town became very prosperous from the 17th century through the export of corn; the fine Customs House was built in 1683 to the designs of local architect Henry Bell.

The town went into decline after this period, and was only rescued by the relatively late arrival of railway services in 1847. In the post-Second World War period it was designated a London Expansion Town, and its population roughly doubled as thousands of people were relocated from the capital.

Since 2004, a multi-million pound scheme has been under way to regenerate the entire town. In 2005, the Vancouver Shopping Centre, originally built in the 1960s, was refurbished as part of the scheme. (See photo)

To the south of town, a large area of brownfield land is being transformed into a big housing estate.