Thursday, 7 November 2019

King's Lynn continued.....

In 1101, Bishop Herbert de Losinga began constructing medieval King's Lynn. He commissioned St. Margaret's Church, now called the Minster, and in that same year he granted the people of Lynn the right to hold a Saturday market oposite the church which became a major attraction to European traders seeking wool and cloth. At this stage the town was known as Bishop's Lynn, but the name changed to King's Lynn following the Reformation. However, to the local people it has always been known as 'Lynn'. 
On the south tower of the Minster is a tide clock, sometimes called a moon clock, presented to the church in 1683. The lettering reads Lynn High Tide, and a green dragon's tongue shows the time of the next high tide. It was easily visible from both the port and the river and a useful aid to the sailors and merchants.
This 14th century misericord depicts Edward the Black Prince and shows his shield mounted with three ostrich feathers, an emblem used by all subsequent Prince of Wales, including Prince Charles. The Black Prince never became king as he died before his father Edward lll. His son, Richard ll, was only 10 years old when he succeeded to the throne. 
Adam Walsoken died 1349 and Robert Braunche died 1364. Both were King's Lynn mayors and major figures in the Great Guild whose chapel was in St. Margaret's.
Their two memorial brasses are amongst the largest and most elaborate to be found in this country. As a result of the towns strong German links, they have been attributed to Flemish artists working in Bruges. It is known that the visiting German merchants also commissioned similar high status Flemish memorials for themselves.  
  These two large brasses are set into the church floor making them notoriously hard to photograph. The angles are difficult as are the reflections caste down on the brasses from the large windows. The image above reveals just one very small detail of a celebrated peacock feast that Robert Braunche staged for King Edward lll in 1349. 
Across the road from the Minster several of the town's important civic buildings line the area known as Saturday Market. The Old Goal House is now a museum but for 400 years it is where Lynn's most notorious citizens were imprisoned.

Stone was a scarce commodity in East Anglia, whilst flint was easily found in the ground and on the beaches. The chequered board solution used here was an inspired outcome, and also aesthetically pleasing.
This a close up to show just how the medieval builders achieved it. 
This series of magnificent Trinity Guildhall buildings date back to the 1420s, they have impressive windows and all have a distinctive stone and flint chequer board patterned, plus a Jacobean porch added in 1624. Lynn merchants were men of considerable wealth generated by their overseas trade, they dominated both the Town Council and the Holy Trinity Guild. 
St Nicholas' Chapel is now in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust, but is still consecrated, and has occasional services. It was built as a 'chapel-of-ease' to the Minster, and is the largest chapel of its kind in England. Light floods in from its windows highlighting 900 years worth of treasures. 
The spire is a replacement designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott in 1871 as the original spire was blown down in a storm in 1781.
This exquisite medieval south porch with several empty niches originally held painted stone figures. Now a shadow of its original self, it is a reminder of how impressive and colourful it would have been prior to the Reformation. 
The west door has wooden panels dating back to 1400, and is a little treasure. It has recently been restored and painted in it's original green and terracotta colour scheme.  
There are now just four stained glass windows in the Chapel, and this one in particular caught my eye. It resembles the work of the pre Rapaelite Brotherhood, but I have been unable to find out who designed and made it.
This beautifully carved marble urn monument is the work of famous Scottish architect Robert Adam.
courtesy V&A
The craftsmanship of the woodwork in the chapel was of such high quality that some of its most famous medieval bench ends are now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London - unusually two of them show sailing ships in full rig. 
However, the carved wooden angel roof still has it's 24 angels keeping a keen eye on everything taking place below, as they have done since 1415. 
With outstretched wings they either play an instrument or sing, just one angel holds a hammer and four nails being the symbol of 'Christ's Passion'.

Angel playing a recorder - this is the earliest portrayal of this instrument in a church carving. 
Because the angels are so high up it is impossible to see all their details with the naked eye, so when I saw this angel on the computer, I enjoyed the fact that the craftsman had given it some cute little toes. 
  It is clear to see that each angel has been worked on by different carvers; some are more refined than others.
An angel playing what appears to be a very small pipe instrument.
This is the oldest church angel roof in the country, the only other older angel roof is the one in Westminster Hall, London, which was carved 20 years earlier.

43 comments:

  1. Thanks for such an interesting post. I've never managed to see inside St Nicholas's - once conservation work was taking place, once there was some kind of concert about to take place and once a suspicious key-holder made all kinds of excuses not to let me inside! I can see from your photos that I shall have to make another attempt; the CCT are much keener to open their churches more these days. The yellow colouration used on the faces and other details in that stained glass window probably mean it's a later example of the Pre Raphaelite school; it's inspired, I think, by medieval windows which also used a lot of yellow.

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    1. Please do go and visit this chapel, I know you will love it as much as I did. There is so much more to see and enjoy than I have shown here. If you visit on a bright sunny day the light floods inside the chapel via the very large plain glass windows.

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  2. Very interesting Blog . I am enjoying reading all about the places you visit

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  3. Hello Rosemary, I was quite taken by that green and purple Gothic door. I love the delicate faded patina on so many old buildings and objects, but how surprised we would be if we could see the entire ancient world in its original colors and condition.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - that really would be a dream come true - imagine seeing Rome, Ephesus, and of course all the many ancient sites in Greece and Egypt too.

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  4. Another wonderfully enjoyable post. I really enjoyed reading and studying your beautiful photos. You really do know your history. Are you an historian? We visited the Minster, but many years ago. We enjoyed just wandering around the lovely town looking at all the old buildings. If we ever get down that way again we'll definitely visit more of the churches and museums. Best, Jane x

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    1. No I am not an historian Jane - it wasn't until my youngest son was studying for his Art A level that I became so interested in Art, Architecture and History. I took him to Italy to see the many sites there that he was studying and the "bug" caught hold of me too.

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  5. I remember the wonderful brass engravings from my visit and the beautiful tide clock. So much to enjoy in this special town. B x

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    1. During medieval times it was such an important town and now it is quite isolated in that quiet corner of Norfolk.

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  6. Dearest Rosemary,
    Wow, one could spend there an entire day, drinking in all the well preserved art from the 15th century!
    How lovely the stone and flint chequer board patterned walls are; very unique.
    Sad that the stone statues are gone, one can only imagine how it once must have looked.
    The Church Angel roof is unique too and as you pointed out, there are differences between one wood carver and the other. We always found that when purchasing another hand carved wooden Angel from Italy, the Tyrol area where it is quite common. Some have angry looking faces and others very friendly.
    Thanks for sharing this with us by your most professional photos!
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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    1. Dear Mariette - Our Angel roofs tend to be mainly centered in the East Anglian area i.e from Cambridge across to Norfolk and Suffolk, so not generally seen across the whole country.
      I really admire those stone and flint chequer board patterned walls, which I am not aware of having seen anywhere else.
      Thanks for interest and your kind comment re: the photos.

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  7. What wonderful pieces of history...and a good reminder of how once beautiful sculptures were removed with the Reformation. At least the statues still remain in Catholic churches in Europe. This post covered a lot of beautifully creative artworks. Thanks.

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    1. I am pleased that you enjoyed some of the buildings seen in King's Lynn Barbara along with some of the interesting artwork.

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  8. It's clear that Bishops/Kings Lynn was a place of great wealth and power. What a treasure it is today for everyone who loves history and art! I enjoyed these posts immensely, thanks!

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    1. You are right Debra - it was a town of great wealth in it's medieval heyday, but now it is on the way to nowhere in particular - just shows how fortunes can change.

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  9. Exquisite and beautiful architecture!

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    1. What I admire is the fact that this town covers so many different styles and periods of our architectural history which have remain almost intact.

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  10. King's Lynn has an amazing history with a very international flavour. Those carved angels in the church really caught my attention - how interesting to see the styles of the different men who carved them.

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    1. Now that I am home I realise that they did have a magnifying mirror in the chapel in order to be able to view the angels better, I now wish that I had used it.

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  11. It's years since I visited Kings Lynn but I am surprised at how much I remember of it... enough to be aware I have also forgotten a lot and must revisit. I recall the town itself being a little run down but hope that's changed by now. The Churches Conservation trust is a fantastic organisation and we'll we'll supporting.

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    1. How fortunes change - once King's Lynn was at the hub of medieval England and now it is just a cut off town on the way to the coast or possibly Sandringham.

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  12. Absolutely beautiful. One could spend years looking and photographing old churches as building.

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    1. It would certainly take me more years than I have to cover all of our churches here - it is good to see that you are back home safely again Margaret.

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  13. Kings Lynn is a beautiful treasure trove of history: thank you so much for sharing these pictures. I would so love to visit! The Chapel is stunning, and I am entranced by the angels, especially the little toes, the urn, the Pre-Raphaelite window, and most of all the West Door. It is just exquisite.

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    1. I was also charmed by it Patricia - before visiting I had no idea that it even existed. Fortunately it is in a book I have called England's Best 1000 churches so I did read up about it before our visit. I was pleased to discover that it was just a couple of minutes from our hotel too.

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  14. As usual your photos are exquisite, especially the one of St. Nicholas Church. The high tide clock is quite unique.

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    1. I have not seen a high tide clock before either and St. Nicolas's is a place that I would be very happy to visit again.

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  15. Not only were the Lynn merchants successful in trade - they also had lasting architectural taste. Those 1420s Trinity Guildhall buildings still have that very distinctive stone and flint chequerboard pattern today!.

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    1. Thank you for your comment Hels - because of what you have said, I have now added an extra photo of the chequerboard stonework to show just how the medieval builders achieved the pattern.

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  16. First time I've seen a tide clock like that, usually just a plain marker at the water edge. A town with a lot of fascinating history.

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    1. It was a very important prosperous town during the medieval period, but now it is on the road to nowhere in particular - how things can change.

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  17. Some really impressive buildings , love the way they built with flint and the wooden ceiling with the angels !

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    1. Stone had to be brought in from France or western parts of England so they cleverly utilised their own supply of flint.

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  18. What wonderful photos and information! Thank you for sharing.

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  19. Another English favorite spot I've sadly not had the luck to visit, and probably will at this late date!
    Rosemary dear, thanks so much for sharing the history and, as always, your photos are perfection.
    Hope you are both well - we send warming hugs.
    Mary xx

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    1. We need those warming hugs Mary as it is a bit chilly here, love back to you and Bob. King's Lynn is off the beaten track unless you happen to be in travelling in that northern part of Norfolk.

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