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.
After the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII, Lynn changed it’s name to Lynn Regis – subsequently King’s Lynn – remaining an active port to this day.
The town has so many fascinating secrets to discover – the Robinson Cruso family have a ledger stone in St. Nicholas Chapel, which is open on Tuesdays and Saturdays in the summer; the unique tide clock on the King’s Lynn Minster (St Margaret’s Church), and the opportunity to see three different ‘clocks’ on the Saturday Market Place; and the carving of the ‘witch’s heart’ on one of the buildings in the magnificent Georgian Tuesday Market Place, one of England’s grandest town squares which also houses the Corn Exchange, now a thriving concert hall.
King’s Lynn is brimful with historic buildings, streets and courtyards. One of England’s most important ports since the 12th Century, King’s Lynn’s maritime past is featured throughout the town, with fine old merchants’ houses stretching down to the river between cobbled lanes, and the elegant Custom House overlooking the original medieval harbour.
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.
To the south of town, a large area of brown field land is being transformed into a big housing estate.