Thursday, 31 October 2019

Hanseatic King's Lynn...............


has a long seafaring history stretching back to the 12th century. It was one of England's most important ports, and it's illustrious maritime past is still much in evidence today. It has many fine old merchants' houses, an elegant Custom House overlooking the original medieval harbour, and some of the finest civic buildings covering several centuries. 
But who is that seen gazing out across the harbour?
Explorer/navigator Captain George Vancouver, was born 22nd June 1757 in King's Lynn. He began his naval career at the tender age of 13 as an able seaman under Capt. James Cook on his ship the ResolutionBy the time of Cook's famous third voyage in HMS Discovery, Vancouver had become a midshipman. He was 32 when he attained the rank of commander and was sent to explore and survey South West Australia, New Zealand and then the West coast of America in a new HMS Discovery. He led the longest mapping expedition in history. In 4½ years, he sailed 140,000 km, and mapped the North American west coast from Mexico to southern Alaska. His measurements were so accurate that many are still used today. He proved that Vancouver Island, was truly an island, and it was named in his honour. The city of Vancouver and also Fort Vancouver in Washington state were also named after him. His life was short, he died when he was just 40 years old.
Custom House
King's Lynn sits on the extensive inland waterway system of the River Ouse. Both sides of the river have been linked together by regular daily ferry services since 1285.  Its geographical position made it an ideal place for European trade from Baltic and English coastal harbours. The town attracted traders from the Hanseatic League, a group of German cities whose ships travelled together in convoys for safety, especially against pirates. They came to Lynn with fish, furs, timber, wax and pitch and took away English wool, cloth, corn and salt. The port today is still busy exporting grain and importing timber.
The Custom House, designed by Henry Bell, was built as a merchant's exchange and as a place to regulate trade through the port. It is one of the towns most iconic buildings, and was described by architectural historian Sir Nikolaus Pevsner as 'one of the most perfect buildings ever built'.

This is England's only surviving example of a Hanseatic business headquarters, dating from 1475. Built around a narrow court, these warehouses and offices were used continuously by the German cities of Lubeck, Hamburg and Bremen for almost 300 years.

This 15th century property, thought to have been updated during the 16th century, goes by the name of the 'Valiant Sailor' reflecting the fact that it was a public house for 200 years. Since 1925 it has been a private residence. 
These cottages were once part of St. Margaret's Benedictine Priory founded in c.1100, 
Through the old Priory archway at the rear of the cottages is the Minster and Priory Church of St. Margaret, 
and it is where these cottages enjoy tiny, but pretty gardens.
The Minster and Priory Church of St. Margaret's 
The next post will commence at the Minster, but now it is time to find Tuesday Market Place and retire for the night.
 Tuesday Market Place in 1685 courtesy king's Lynn forums
Today Tuesday Market Place covers three acres but originally was even bigger. The dominant impression is one of Georgian brickwork, sash windows, square parapets and pediments over doors giving the area a feeling of grandeur. It has played host to traditional outdoor markets for hundreds of years, with stalls selling shellfish, mainly caught by the Lynn fishing fleets, as well as locally grown produce from the fertile Fens. This area is particularly known for its brown shrimps, prawns, cockles, crabs and lobsters.
 This Neoclassical Corn Exchange with its elegant stone facade sits on Tuesday Market Place, and is a typical example of the wide variety of architecture to be found around the square. Built by the Victorians it has now been reborn as a theatre.
Opposite the Corn Exchange is this blue and white confection of a building built in 1683 for a King's Lynn Member of Parliament, Sir John Turner, and this is where we retired for night.

49 comments:

  1. A place I know well - Lynn, not the hotel - as I often wander around there waiting for either the bus to take me along the coast, or the train to bring me homewards. It's a fascinating place and I still keep finding obscure corners that I've somehow missed before.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We only had two nights there but could have done with more. Why don't more people know about it? - such a little treasure trove of interesting architecture.

      Delete
  2. How absolutely lovely! The architectural styles, all meshed together into one spot! Amazing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is rather wonderful that so many of the buildings at Lynn have not been knocked down or destroyed across the centuries.

      Delete
  3. Ooooh I loved it all. Such gorgeous photos. You really could spend a life time traveling around the UK to interesting places.
    I am ready to move into Custom House. :-) What a beautiful building!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I will move in with you Catherine - it is such a dignified perfectly formed little building.

      Delete
    2. I can't imagine a better room mate! ;-)

      Delete
  4. Another wonderful post! I do look forward to your posts. I've been to King's Lynn several times, but you've given it a completely new perspective. We last visited for a brief look around back in 2013 when we were traveling to Kelling Heath and Dad was making his own way down in his own car. On his way Dad realised he'd forgotten his shoes. He parked in King's Lynn and went in search of a shoe shop. In his haste he didn't note where he'd parked his car. He spent 3 hours wandering around looking for it before calling into the local police station for help. A young PC helped him find his car. He finally arrived, very late and us worried sick ( none of us have mobiles ) Fond memories of King's Lynn for my Dad! best, Jane x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Jane - glad that you enjoyed seeing King's Lynn again. I have the simplest mobile available that I use to text the family when we are travelling to them in case we run into traffic problems, and for texting the gardener, heating engineer etc to arrange visits. Life is too short to spend hours and hours on mobiles.
      Quite a story re: your Dad and I am glad that he eventually found his car.

      Delete
  5. Beautiful architecture there. I remembered that George Vancouver's journeys led to his name all over the place, particularly in the Canadian side of things, but hadn't known where his roots were.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't know this either William until my visit.

      Delete
  6. I love this post! I live on Vancouver Island, as you know. Captain Vancouver arrived here after the Spanish explorer Quadra y Bodega and the two men developed a friendship, sharing supplies and information in spite of their country's rivalries. During one meeting Quadra asked Vancouver to name "some port or island after us both" and so our island was originally named Quadra's and Vancouver's Island. It was later shortened, for which we are very grateful. But there is also a Quadra Island.

    Love seeing the custom house and all the beautiful buildings in King's Lynn. What a different world Vancouver sailed to!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. These explorers and navigators were such extraordinary men sailing off to unknown lands for many years at a time.
      Thanks for the information about Bodega y Quadra, I must admit that I had never heard if him, but I am not surprised that he was Spanish as they were great explorers too.
      The Custom House is such a special little building, once seen never forgotten.

      Delete
  7. The Spanish explorer's name was Bodega y Quadra - I reversed it in the above comment.

    ReplyDelete
  8. What an exquisite place! And Captain Vancouver's home town! Vancouver is one of Canada's best cities now. Looking forward to your next post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My grandson's girl friend is from Vancouver, and I know that it is a city that she is very passionate about.

      Delete
  9. Dearest Rosemary,
    That is quite an interesting post!
    Hanseatic King's Lynn, who would have thought about that connection in England?!
    Did not know that the city of Vancouver got named after Captain George Vancouver... A special connection for us as the biological Mother of Pieter's adopted daughter lived there for a big part of her life. She's from way up north in British Columbia but came to stay in pleasant Vancouver.
    Just today I got my DNA results back and found that I also have 16.5% British & Irish. Knowing that already from the Middle Ages there were lots of connections by sea, who knows how this came to be?!
    Life is interesting and when studying history a lot seems so interwoven.
    Lovely square too!
    Hugs,
    Mariette

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Mariette - In Europe we are all mixed race. In this country we were conquered by the Romans, the Vikings, and other European nations came here to live and trade with us as per the Hanseatic league. Many Huguenots fled here following persecution in France and I know that I have some of their genes via my maternal grandmother, whose surname was Jacques.

      Delete
  10. Hello Rosemary, It is hard to believe that so much history and elegance is packed into one place. I especially like the huge chain on the paving stones, and how it reflects the area's source of wealth. In America (and other places, for that matter), too often only one building is saved in an historic area, and all the charm and context is lost. Still, they crow about that one building and what great conservationists they are! They should take a look at King's Lynn.
    --Jim

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Jim - it appears that so much great architecture still remains in King's Lynn because it was at the heart of so much during in those early centuries and such an important port. Today it is now quite cutoff and remote sitting in it's northwestern corner of Norfolk.

      Delete
  11. ... and makers of very distinctive and collectible drinking glasses...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Are you talking about Ronald Stennett-Wilson's glass which I happen to love, and am fortunate enough to have one his beautiful candlesticks.

      Delete
    2. An 18th century Lynn drinking glass is in the shape of a tumbler and has staggered steps in the wall. They are quite rare but I have seen some. They are often passed-by because they look as though they were made in the 1960s.

      Delete
    3. Thanks twice over - I don't know those glasses.

      Delete
  12. I have never read anything of King's Lynn before, but have always thought it an intriguing name. Also Captain Vancouver, of whom I am ignorant, and he even came to Australia! With a superb master in Captain Cook, he achieved so much on his long voyage. We have been to the City of Vancouver about ten times on our way to visit our daughter in Ottawa - next time I will look out for the Captain. The Hanseatic architecture and the German connection are also so interesting, and I do love the yellow house - almost as much as the blue confection where you stayed. Thank you for a great post Rosemary.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I will tell you about the name in the next post Patricia. Do you have a stop over in Vancouver? Although I have visited Canada several times I have never been there, but would really like to.

      Delete
    2. Yes, we have actually been to Vancouver ten times, but only ever for about 36 hours. The quickest way from Brisbane to Ottawa is a direct flight to Vancouver, then another flight next day to Ottawa. Vancouver is very different from the Eastern cities in Canada, but also very appealing. I find the art of the Indigenous people of the West quite original and attractive too, and am quite a fan of Emily Carr.

      Delete
    3. I like Emily Carr's paintings too - I know the area of Canada that you visit quite well as my brother lives there, but Vancouver is completely unknown to me apart from seeing it on the TV.

      Delete
  13. The light in your photos is stunning. Happy memories of Kings Lynne, one of my favourite towns. I think I stayed in the Kings Head as a child and managed to lock myself into the bedroom! I look forward to hearing about the Minster, another favourite building. B x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. King's Lynn is a great little town, and I wonder why more people don't know or realise what a lot it has to offer.

      Delete
  14. Lovely photos of Lynn, Rosemary. How did you manage to get all the places without a human being in sight? Lovely historic buildings in such a deprived town, a town of trash and treasure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Most people were hanging around the areas that I wasn't interested in i.e the shops.

      Delete
    2. I just looked through your other Norfolk posts. Great photos, and nobody around at Horsey either. It is never crowded even though your text says it is a popular tourist location as if it were sometimes crowded. It isn't. I take it you get your information from a guide book, or are you originally from here and have inside knowledge? I guess the people of Lynn were drinking although I am not sure of the time of day you visited but they drink at most times of the day.

      Delete
    3. We were in Norfolk at the tail end of the season and also during the flooding so not many people around. I am not from Norfolk, but have always had a great interest in art, architecture and history, and I like to avoid having people in my photos.

      Delete
  15. So it seems Vancouver left this lovely place at a very young age. Thank you for the history on him. Lovely town and beautiful pictures. I am always amazed at the age of some structures.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is hard to believe that all of these buildings have stood for so many centuries - I wonder just how long todays buildings will remain standing.

      Delete
  16. How I love the atmosphere of that lovely cottage garden and altogether those ancient buildings so filled with history.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The town is very fortunate that so much of it has been left untouched over the ages.

      Delete
  17. Such varied and interesting architecture and good to read your descriptions. Vancouver is not an English sounding name - maybe Dutch. Will look it up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The feeling is that is father was either of Dutch or Flemish descent.

      Delete
  18. Hello, again, after a long respite Rosemary! I checked in a couple of times with Gina Garner and the two of you were my weekly fix, before I got too busy to read blogs. My loss! This writing and your visit must have been heavenly! I love that "confection" of a hotel with those colors! How magnificent! That old drawing of the marketplace with all of those classic pediments would have been a delight to shop in for some fresh seafood! You choose the most intriguing places to visit and report on! I have visited Vancouver (The Pacific Northwest is in my neighborhood, after all!) but never learned the history and now I will have to do some more historical researching since you have whet my appetite!

    Mary in Oregon

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Mary - it is so lovely to hear from you again. When people vanish you do wonder if all is well with them, so it is an extra bonus for me to know that you are.
      Vancouver is a long plane journey from us, but it is somewhere that I too would enjoy being able to visit.
      Take care Mary.

      Delete
    2. All is well here, Rosemary! I think of you often and your children and grandchildren south of Paris! Especially when we discuss art and architecture in my french classes. I looked up King's Lynn and found how close my daughter and I were when we visited Cambridge and many parts of southern England. Something to add to the itinerary when I return - along with many of your other adventurous places I've read about and enjoyed!

      Mary in Oregon

      Delete
    3. My son and his family have returned home from Paris, possibly spurred on by all of this Brexit nonsense. My eldest granddaughter is now a classical Soprano having just finished 4 years at a Music Conservatoire, and the other granddaughter is in her final two years at school. I think knowing French and Norwegian has been a great asset to them both.

      Delete
  19. Like the way the oldest buildings lean in towards the street.

    ReplyDelete

❖PLEASE NOTE❖ Comments made by those who hide their identity will be deleted

“You can't stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you - you have to go to them sometimes”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh