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King's Lynn

King's Lynn Lynn

The Customs House

King's Lynn shown within NorfolkArea 10.97 sq mi(28.4 km²) Population34,564 (2001 Census) OS grid referenceTF619201DistrictKing's Lynn and West NorfolkShire countyNorfolkRegionEastConstituent countryEnglandSovereign stateUnited KingdomPost townKING'S LYNN Postcode districtPE30Dialling code01553 PoliceNorfolkFireNorfolkAmbulanceEast of EnglandEuropean ParliamentEast of EnglandUK ParliamentNorth West NorfolkList of places: UKEnglandNorfolk

Coordinates: 52°45′16″N 0°23′51″E / 52.7543, 0.3976

King's Lynn is a town and port in Norfolk, England. Over the years, the town has been known variously as Bishop's Lynn and Lynn Regis, while it is occasionally referred to by locals as simply Lynn—the Celtic word for lake.

King's Lynn is the third largest settlement in Norfolk after the city of Norwich and the town of Great Yarmouth. Sandringham House, the Norfolk residence of the British Royal Family, is 6 miles (9.7 km) north-east of King's Lynn.




While it is believed there has been some form of habitation at King's Lynn for well over a thousand years it was not until St Margaret's Church was founded in 1101 by Bishop Herbert de Losinga that the town started appearing on records. The town was originally named Bishop's Lynn, as the town was part of the manor of the Bishop of Norwich in the 12th century.

King's Lynn as viewed from across the River Great Ouse

By the 14th century, the town ranked as the third port of England – and is considered as important to England in Medieval times as Liverpool was during the Industrial Revolution. It retains two buildings that were warehouses of the Hanseatic League that were in use between the 15th and 17th centuries. They are the only remaining building structures of the hanseatic league in England.

When Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in 1538, the town and manor became royal property. As a result, the town became renamed King's Lynn and Lynn Regis; however, it was King's Lynn which stuck. The town became 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 – with services mainly provided by the Great Eastern Railway (subsequently London and North Eastern Railway) and its fore-runners, and by the Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway, which had its headquarters in the town at Austin Street, and an important station at South Lynn (now dismantled) which was also its operational control centre. Lynn had the misfortune of being the first town in Great Britain to be bombed from the air by a Zeppelin in 1915, the Savage's Iron Works, where aeroplane parts where being made, being the target.

Post war

In the post-Second World War period, King's Lynn was designated a London Expansion Town and its population roughly doubled as thousands of people were relocated from the capital.

In 2006 King's Lynn formally became Great Britain's first member of Die Hanse – the modern-day equivalent of the Hanseatic League.[1]


The unparished urban area that makes up the town of King's Lynn has an area of 10.97 square miles (28.41 km²) and in the 2001 census had a population of 34,564 in 15,285 households. It is the main town in the larger district of King's Lynn and West Norfolk.[2]


The mouth of Gaywood River in King's Lynn.

King's Lynn is mainly on the east bank of the River Great Ouse close to where it flows into the Wash, 35 miles (55 km) north-east of Peterborough, 44 miles (70 km) west of Norwich, and the same distance north of Cambridge. London lies about 112 miles (180 km) to the south.[3][4] The Great Ouse at Lynn is about 200 metres (220 yd) wide and the outfall for much of the drainage system created the Fens (systematically drained from the seventeenth century onwards). It flows into the Wash, a bleak landscape of saltmarsh, shifting sandbanks and tidal flows. The much smaller Gaywood River also flows through the town, joining the Great Ouse at the southern end of South Quay close to the town centre.

A small part, known as West Lynn, is on the west bank. Other districts of King's Lynn include the town centre, North Lynn, South Lynn, Gaywood, North Wootton, South Wootton, and Fairstead.


St. Margaret's Church

In the town centre, the Guildhall (1421) and the Town Hall (1895) are King's Lynn's most impressive secular buildings, built with flint-chequered facades, and adjacent to the Saturday Market Place (the original hub of the town). It also has three impressive churches: All Saints' Church, St. Margaret's (also on the Saturday Market Place) and St Nicholas' Chapel — the latter built close to the newer Tuesday Market Place, at the heart of a massive Georgian expansion and one of the finest public squares in England. The roads connecting the two markets contain many fine historic buildings, and run parallel to the quays that lined the River Great Ouse (now largely superseded by docks).

In 1987, the town became the first in the UK to install town centre CCTV (though Bournemouth had previously used CCTV in non-central locations). The single most numerous crime prosecuted as a result of this comprehensive system is men urinating in public on their way home at night from pubs.

Currently huge plans are under way to regenerate the entire town. King's Lynn has undergone a multi-million pound regeneration scheme. In 2005 the Vancouver Shopping Centre, originally built in the 1960s, was refurbished as part of the town centre regeneration project (which is planned for 'further' extension) which also saw a new £6 million multi-storey car park built, which has won several awards[citation needed]. And to the south of town a huge swathe of brown-field land is being transformed into a housing development (including contemporary apartments lining the River Nar), a business park, parkland, a school, shops and a new relief road in a £300 million+ scheme. The town's college will also be moving to this area (at a cost of £100 million) along with a possible Anglia Ruskin University campus. A 250-berth marina, surrounded by apartments, hotel, shops, bars and restaurants is also planned.

Industry and commerce

The front of King's Lynn railway station

King's Lynn has always been a centre for the fishing and seafood industry (especially inshore prawns, shrimps and cockles). There have also been glass-making and small-scale engineering works (many fairground and steam engines were built here), and today it is still the location for much agricultural-related industry including food processing. There are a number of chemical factories and the town retains a role as an import centre. It is a regional centre for what is still a sparsely populated part of England.


King's Lynn railway station is the terminus of the Fen Line, and gives connections to Ely, Cambridge and London King's Cross. It is the only remaining station of several the town once boasted.

The town is connected to the local cities of Norwich and Peterborough via the A47 and to Cambridge via the A10.


The town has three secondary schools, educating students from the town and the surrounding areas: King Edward VII High School, The Park High School and Springwood High School. There is also The College of West Anglia (the largest further education campus in town).


The Customs House

The Lynn News is the local newspaper which is published twice a week, while the biggest selling regional morning newspaper in the country, the Eastern Daily Press, publishes a West and Fens edition daily from its district office in King's Lynn High Street. KL.FM 96.7 is the local commercial radio station.

The town holds two festivals each summer, King's Lynn Festival and Festival Too. The latter is one of the top three largest free music festivals in Europe and is held on Tuesday Market Place: it has attracted crowds of more than 12,000. Past performers include Midge Ure, Wizzard, Deacon Blue, Suzi Quatro, Gerry and The Pacemakers,10CC, Mungo Jerry, The Human League, The Buzzcocks and M People. The King's Lynn Festival is primarily classical music; it is held in historic venues throughout town, and attracts big names from orchestras to opera and stage-plays. There are also literature and poetry festivals. The Guildhall stages many events and Shakespeare's company may have performed there.

Every year on St Valentine's Day, a travelling funfair called The Mart sets up in Tuesday Market Place for roughly a fortnight, after which it moves to other towns. Traditionally, this is the first funfair in the Showmen's calendar where new rides are tried and favourites brought out from winter storage. 500 years ago, Lynn had two marts and these were important 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 changed from a trading to a funfair. It also became annual. Also upon the Tuesday Market Place, the town holds several Vehicle Shows where the local car dealers display.

The Majestic Cinema

There are two cinemas in the town centre, the bigger the Majestic Cinema – a lovely building, which has been refurbished in the last few years. The Majestic had been the butt of jokes on the Scott Mills show on BBC Radio 1 due to an excited telephone voice recording. However the King's Lynn Arts Centre also shows films and performances, it is one of the Festival Too venues during the summer months.

The town centre has a large park (grade II listed - established in the 1700s) called The Walks. The town centre has a variety of pubs as well as three nightclubs, Heights, Zoots and Chicago's.


King's Lynn F.C. football club (nicknamed "The Linnets") is in the Conference North. Its ground is The Walks football ground on Tennyson Road.

King's Lynn also has a motorcycle speedway team, the King's Lynn Stars, who race at the Norfolk Arena on Saddlebow Road. The track has operated since 1965 when it operated on an open licence. Speedway type events were staged at the stadium in the 1950s. Details of some the meetings at King's Lynn (in the 1960s) can be viewed on

The successful basketball team College of West Anglia Fury, who compete in the second-tier English Basketball League, is also based in King's Lynn.

References in popular culture

Trivia sections are discouragedunder Wikipedia guidelines.
The article could be improved by integratingrelevant items and removing inappropriateones.

King's Lynn is referred to in the film The Eagle Has Landed.

The historic heart of King's Lynn was used as a location in the 1985 film Revolution, where it stood in for New York during the American Revolutionary War.

The town has appeared in the 1943 film, The Silver Fleet

King's Lynn appeared on the Channel 4 TV Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares as the featured restaurant – The Rococo – is on the town's Saturday Marketplace. The restaurant was renamed Maggie's during filming, in reference to St. Margaret's Church – which is also on the marketplace. The restaurant, Maggie's, has since closed her doors (April 8, 2008), and will be replaced by an Italian restaurant and coffee bar.

King's Lynn is the subject of a song by British based DJ, Wagon Christ.

The Greyfriars Tower was featured in the first season of the BBC TV series Restoration[5] for the Eastern region. While the tower won its regional and proceeded to the national final, the contest was won by the Victoria Baths in Manchester.

In the ITV Sherlock Holmes series, the area around Purfleet Quay was used in The Man with the Twisted Lip.

Twinned town

Notable people

Notable current and former residents of King's Lynn include:


  1. ^ Kings Lynn, a Hanse League Member. King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council Website. Retrieved on 2007-01-15.
  2. ^ Census population and household counts for unparished urban areas and all parishes (Excel). Office for National Statistics & Norfolk County Council (2001). Retrieved on 2005-12-02.
  3. ^ (2002) OS Explorer Map 250 - Norfolk Coast West. Ordnance Survey. ISBN 0-319-21886-4
  4. ^ (1999) OS Explorer Map 236 - King's Lynn, Downham Market & Swaffham. Ordnance Survey. ISBN 0-319-21867-8
  5. ^ Restoration - Series 1. BBC. Retrieved on 2007-01-15.
  • See King's Lynn Festival for details of its history and the role of Lady Fermoy

See also

External links

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Administrative areas: Northamptonshire · Buckinghamshire · Milton Keynes · Bedfordshire · Cambridgeshire · Norfolk
Flows into: The Wash

Towns (upstream to downstream): Brackley · Buckingham · Old Stratford
Milton Keynes (Stony Stratford, Wolverton, New Bradwell) · Newport Pagnell · Olney · Kempston · Bedford · St Neots · Godmanchester · Huntingdon · St Ives · Ely · Littleport · Downham Market · King's Lynn

Major tributaries (upstream to downstream by confluence): River Tove  · River Ouzel (or Lovat) · River Ivel
River Kym · Old Bedford River · New Bedford River · River Cam · River Lark · River Little Ouse · River Wissey

Major bridges (upstream to downstream): Harrold bridge · A428 Turvey bridge · A428 Bromham bypass
A6 Bedford Town Bridge · A421 Bedford bypass · Great Barford Bridge
A428 Bridge St Neots · St Neots Town Bridge · Godmanchester Chinese Bridge
A14 bridge, River Great Ouse · Huntingdon Old Bridge · St Ives Bridge

Longest UK rivers: 1. Severn2. Thames3. Trent4. Great Ouse 5. Wye6. Tay7. Spey8. Nene9. Clyde10. Tweed11. Eden12. Dee Categories: King's Lynn and West Norfolk | Towns in Norfolk | Towns on the River Great Ouse | Ports and harbours of Norfolk | Trading posts of the Hanseatic LeagueHidden categories: All articles with unsourced statements | Articles with unsourced statements since February 2008 | Articles with trivia sections from August 2007 | Articles with unsourced statements since June 2007

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