King's Lynn History
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.
Lynn's East Gate:
Lynn's South Gate in London Road is one of the most famous monuments of the town, but there existed another gate 200 years ago on the borders of King's Lynn and the then village of Gaywood.
Now lost and forgotten, Lynn's East Gate originally stood near what is now Dodman's Bridge, near the college, in Lynn Road. Also known as St Catherine's Gate, it was demolished in 1800 because the arch was too low for carthorse traffic.
Captain Vancouver: Local Hero
In April 1792, Lynn's most famous son, Captain George Vancouver's ship Discovery beat a convoy of American ships to the northwest coast of America to declare the land as "British Columbia".
Captain Vancouver and his brave men were confronted with the most complicated coastline ever to be charted. He littered the new land with names that would be recognised by people from West Norfolk.
Vancouver, British Columbia was named after the man himself. Today it is Canada's largest port, and the birthplace of container shipping.
The great passion of Canadian adventurer and Artist John Horton, is the restoration of George Vancouver's reputation.
"I am very incensed that Vancouver never received the recognition he deserved and was unfairly and maliciously tarnished by an influential subordinate. All of my research points to Vancouver being a great man," Horton says. "If it wasn't for George Vancouver, we'd be today Spanish, American or Russian."
In fact, Horton remains so moved by Vancouver's plight that he went on a 3-year expedition aboard an ex-US navy barge, painting pictures which depict the historic voyage of this extraordinary 18th century explorer.
A Millennium Exhibition of his paintings appeared in King's Lynn, Alaska State Museum, Oregon State Museum, Seattle, Ottawa, Vancouver and Hawaii.
Lord Nelson: Another Local Hero
Tucked a few miles inland from the north Norfolk coast, the tranquil hamlet of Burnham Thorpe is one for the history buffs - it is the birthplace of Horatio Nelson.
Mortally wounded at Trafalgar, Lord Nelson wanted to be buried at All Saints Church, but he ended up in London's St Pauls. However, the church's cross and lectern are fashioned from timbers taken from his ship, HMS Victory.
Burnham Thorpe is situated five miles west of Wells Next The Sea, off the A149.
King's Lynn Mart
For a period of two weeks each year, starting on February 14 Valentines Day, the Tuesday Market Place pulsates with the sound of loud music, screaming youngsters and whirling machines.
Traditionally, this is the first funfair in the Showmen's calendar where new rides are tried out and old favourites brought out from winter storage.
Some of us dread the Mart, as we know it usually brings with it a spell of cold weather. But others look forward to all the fun of the fair, having a go on the side stalls and buying candy floss, rock and all types of other sweeties from the mobile shops.
500 years ago, Lynn had two marts and these were importaint trading fairs which would attract visitors from as far afield as Italy and Germany. Over the years trading fairs became less important and the Mart's nature changed from a trading fair to a funfair. It also became an annual event.
The Mart is also a memorial to the great work of Frederick Savage, who worked in partnership with the Showmen's Guild to develop new rides. Mr Savage lived in Lynn, and pioneered the application of steam power to fairground barrel organs and went on to develop a unique industry manufacturing power-driven roundabouts, swings and joy-wheels.
In the 1870's he founded St Nicholas' ironworks on the old Anglia Canners site facing what is now John Kennedy Road.
See Also: National Fairground Archive: King's Lynn Mart
More snippets of local history to be added to this page ...