King’s Lynn’s famous Leaning Tower, situated behind the Library, was once part of an ancient monastary. It was built on former marshland, and like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, has been slowly tipping to one side.
It stands 93 feet (28 metres) high and leans about a degree and a half to the north west. It was once used as a navigation aid for boats navigating The Wash and River Ouse. The photo on the right, taken from the old car park, gives a better impression of the lean.
The bell tower was built in the 15th century in brick and ashlar, and is the best surviving of only three examples of Franciscan towers in England. The two other being located in Coventry and Richmond in Yorkshire.
The tower formed part of a monastary on this site, which was established by Franciscan friars in 1235. It was one of the four main friaries to exist in King’s Lynn. The others being Dominicans (Black), Carmelites (White) and Augustinians (Austins).
Records show that there were 38 friars at Greyfriars in 1325.
The gardens in which the tower stands were laid out in 1911 to mark the Coronation of King George V.
The tower is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, Grade 1 Listed, but in its current condition is on English Heritages Buildings at Risk Register.
Greyfriars Tower was a finalist in the first series of the BBC2 programme Restoration, and with the benefit of funding from The Heritage Lottery Fund and English Heritage, restoration of the leaning tower and gardens was completed in 2006.