King’s Lynn heritage walk, St. George's Guildhall, Norfolk
Taking a slow stroll around the historic areas of King's Lynn, a tale of old awaits you round the next corner. Visit Green Quay and it’s Discovery Centre; the old Customs House; St. George’s Guildhall; Trues Yard Museum and ‘The Walks’ an 18th Century urban park.
See England's largest surviving parochial chapel
Using your imagination, imagine the sights and sounds of King’s Lynn’s past as you explore this historic medieval port on foot. Ideal for families.
South Quay, grid ref: TF616202
Starting at South Quay. Facing the river, turn right along the quayside. Stop at Green Quay.
After visiting Green Quay and reaching College Street, if you have the time King's Lynn Town Hall is at the end, or where the road bends right in to King’s Staithe Square, continue straight on, crossing the sluice. Immediately after crossing the sluice, turn right on to Purfleet Quay, passing the statue of Captain George Vancouver (1757-1798).
Captain George Vancouver and Green Quay
Captain George Vancouver, naval officer and explorer, was born at King's Lynn, on 22 June 1757, and died at Petersham, London, on 12th May 1798. He was with James Cook on his expeditions to the South Seas (1772-75) and the Northwest Coast BC (1776-80). The Green Quay is housed in a warehouse with a 14th-century ground floor and 15th- and 16th-century upper floors. Originally known as Marriott’s Warehouse, the building is now a discovery centre for The Wash. Here you can find out about the unique bio-diversity of The Wash, discover how The Wash was formed and appreciate the future pressures on one of East Anglia’s most spectacular environments.
When reaching Customs House (Tourist Information Centre), turn left onto King Street.
One of the most recognisable buildings in King’s Lynn is the Custom House. Built by Henry Bell in 1683 as a merchants’ exchange, the building was used as a customs house from the 18th century until 1989. It was the first classical building to be built in King’s Lynn, and is now open to the public as a museum and information centre.
Walking along King Street, at No. 29 is St. George's Guildhall. The building now proudly stands as the largest surviving medieval guildhall in England - boasting many original and rare medieval features. In 1442, the first theatre production was hosted at St George's. Today, a theatre and art-house cinema permanently reside at the Guildhall.
St George's Guildhall
Originally built for a prosperous wool trade, St George's has been used under many guises; a corn exchange, a weapons store, and now, a theatre. By 1945 it was derelict, and faced demolition. Thankfully, the historical detailing of such a fine property in Lynn was brought to public awareness and the Guildhall was auctioned and purchased by Alexander Penrose. With funding from The Pilgrim Trust, the Arts Council and public subscription, the building was restored, enabling it to be placed in National Trust ownership.
Continue along King Street until you reach Tuesday Market Place. Continue straight on past the Corn Exchange and then bear right around the Market Place.
The Grade II listed façade of King's Lynn Corn Exchange is a testimony to the splendour of Victorian architecture which now fronts a multi-purpose venue. Originally built in 1854, facing the town's major public square, the Tuesday Market Place, behind its elaborate stone façade, the hall was a simple brick rectangle with a glazed roof supported by delicate wrought-iron trusses. By the mid 1990s, the building was dilapidated. Although still used for community events, a project to restore it was begun, and it is now used as a theatre.
Turn right onto St Nicholas Street. At the end of St Nicholas Street, you will see St Nicholas' Chapel in front of you. Turn left onto St Ann’s Street.
St Nicholas' Chapel
England’s largest surviving parochial chapel, St Nicholas’ Chapel or the Fishermen’s Chapel was founded in 1146 as a chapel of ease to St Margaret’s Church. The roof of this Grade I listed building features a series of beautifully carved angels.
At the end of St Ann’s Street, turn right on to North Street and look out for the True's Yard museum. At the end, turn right on to John Kennedy Road. Continue down this road (which becomes Railway Road) until you reach the cross road junction with Blackfriars Street and Blackfriars Road
A group of 18th- and early-19th-century brick houses, one of which contains an 18th-century panelled room. The yard is the last surviving example of a fisherman’s yard in the North End, a close fishing community that declined and disappeared during the 20th century. The yard has been restored and is now a museum.
Cross to the corner of Blackfriars road and follow the path in to 'The Walks'. Walk down to the fountain and then turn left on to a path that heads back up towards the road. This path takes you past St John’s Church and on to St John’s Walk. After passing the church, bear right off St John’s Walk and follow the path past the Red Mount Chapel.
'The Walks' were created in the early 18th century as an urban park in which folk could find fresh air, and is the only surviving Norfolk 18th-century town walk. At first the park was only for ‘posh folk’, and guards were employed to keep the ‘riff-raff’ out! In 1998, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the 17-hectare parkland was restored to its former glory with modern amenities added. The bandstand is central to 'The Walks', and on Summer Sunday afternoons one might hear the Town Band playing. Look out for Red Mount Chapel.
After passing Red Mount Chapel, at the crossroads, turn right along Broad Walk.
Red Mount Chapel
Red Mount Chapel is an unusual 15th-century wayside chapel that was part of the Walsingham pilgrimage route. The chapel was also used by soldiers during the Civil War, who left interesting graffiti in the interior.
Cross the road to Millfleet passing the library on your right.
At the end of the road, continue straight on past Church Street to Nelson Street.
Turn left along St Margaret’s Lane and at the end, turn right to arrive back at South Quay.
South Quay, grid ref: TF616202
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