King’s Lynn once had extensive town walls, and the South Gates was one of three gates which guarded the entrances to the town.
Work began on the South Gates in the 1430’s, and it originally had a spiked portcullis. A gatekeeper was elected every year to keep out any vagrants or strangers, and let in people who “could give a good account of themselves.”
Arches at either side of the gate were added in the 1840’s for better pedestrian safety, as traffic along the newly-developed London Road had increased. The building is always referred to in the plural because of the arches.
Here is a view of the building that most visitors don’t get to see. Taken from the nearby gardens it shows that an old river, probably used as part of the defenses, passes beneath the road.
(Authors Note: I was nearly run down by that car while taking the first photo and almost slipped into the river while seeking a good vantage point for the second: such dedication!)