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King's Lynn
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Population 42,800 (2007)
• London 98 miles (158 km)
Shire county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town KING'S LYNN
Postcode district PE30-PE34
Dialling code 01553
Police Norfolk
Fire Norfolk
Ambulance East of England
EU Parliament East of England
UK Parliament
  • North West Norfolk
List of places
52°45′14″N 0°23′53″E / 52.754°N 0.398°E / 52.754; 0.398

King's Lynn, known until 1537 as Bishop's Lynn and colloquially as Lynn, is a port and market town in the borough of King's Lynn and West Norfolk in the county of Norfolk, England, 98 miles (158 km) north of London, 36 miles (58 km) north-east of Peterborough, 44 miles (71 km) north-north-east of Cambridge and 44 miles (71 km) west of Norwich. The population is 42,800.


List of events

Year Event


Lynn Parish mentioned in Domesday book as modest village with many Saltings.

The Bishop of Norwich gives the people of Lynn the right to hold weekly markets and annual fairs

1204 King John gives Bishop's Lynn a charter (a document granting the town certain rights)
ca 1220 Great Ouse redirected by flood and human hand to have a new outfall at Bishop's Lynn
1348 Bishop's Lynn is a large and important town with a population of 5,500-6,000. Wool, grain and salt are exported and pitch, fish and iron are imported
1406 St George's Guildhall is built
1475 The Hanseatic Warehouse is built
1485 Red Mount Chapel is built
1500 Bishop's Lynn is declining in importance although the port is still busy
1524 Bishop's Lynn is given a corporation and a mayor
1534 A grammar school is founded in Bishop's Lynn
1537 The king takes control of the town from the bishop. From then on it is known as King's Lynn
1572 Thatched roofs are banned in King's Lynn to reduce the risk of fire
1605 Greenland Fishery House is built
1643 During the Civil War King's Lynn is captured by a parliamentary army
1665 Plague strikes King's Lynn
1683 The Custom House is built
1720s Daniel Defoe describes King's Lynn as 'Beautiful, well built and well situated'
1784 The first bank opens in King's Lynn
1801 The population of King's Lynn is 10,096
1832 Cholera strikes King's Lynn
1835 The Lynn and West Norfolk Hospital opens
1847 The railway reaches King's Lynn
1861 The County Court is built
1869 Alexandra Dock is built
1883 Bentinck Dock is built
1904 A museum opens in King's Lynn
1905 A public library opens
1910 The first cinema opens in King's Lynn
1962 It is decided King's Lynn should be an overflow town for London
1972 Gayton Road Fire Station moves to the brand new site on Kilham's Way
1982 Lynnsport opens
1991 True's Yard Fishing Museum opens
1992 The Town House Museum opens
2010 The Bridge for Heroes Contact Centre opens
2015 A second fire station is opened by Her Majesty the Queen on Horsleys Fields, South Lynn.


The etymology of King's Lynn is uncertain. The name Lynn is said to be derived from the body of water near the town: the Celtic word Llyn, means a lake; but the name is plausibly of Anglo-Saxon origin, from the word Lean, implying a tenure in fee or farm. As the Domesday Book mentions many saltings at Lena (Lynn), an area of partitioned pools or small lakes may have existed here at that time (1085). The salt may even have contributed to Herbert de Losinga's interest in this modest parish.

For a time it was named Len Episcopi (Bishop's Lynn) while under the jurisdiction, both temporal and spiritual, of the Bishop of Norwich; but during the reign of Henry VIII it was surrendered to the crown, and it then assumed the name of Lenne Regis, or King's Lynn.

In the Domesday Book, it is known as Lun, and Lenn; and is described as the property of the Bishop of Elmham, and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The town is and has been for generations generally known by its inhabitants and local people simply as Lynn. The city of Lynn, Massachusetts, just north of Boston, was named in 1637 in honour of its first official minister of religion, Samuel Whiting, who arrived at the new settlement from Lynn, Norfolk.

Middle Ages

Lynn originated as a settlement on a constricted site to the south of where the River Great Ouse exits to the Wash. Development began in the early 10th century, but the place was not recorded until the early-11th century. Until the early-13th century, the Great Ouse emptied via the Wellstream at Wisbech. After the redirection of the Great Ouse in the 13th century, Lynn and its port became significant and prosperous.

In 1101, Bishop Herbert de Losinga of Thetford began to construct the first mediaeval town between two rivers, the Purfleet to the north and Mill Fleet to the south. He commissioned St Margaret's Church and authorised a market. In the same year, the bishop granted the people of Lynn the right to hold a market on Saturday. Trade built up along the waterways that stretched inland and the town expanded between the two rivers.

Early modern

Hanseatic Warehouse King's Lynn
Hanseatic Warehouse

During the 14th century, Lynn ranked as England's most important port. It was considered as vital to England during the Middle Ages as Liverpool was during the Industrial Revolution. Sea trade with Europe was dominated by the Hanseatic League of ports; the transatlantic trade and the rise of England's western ports did not begin until the 17th century. The Trinity Guildhall was rebuilt in 1421 after a fire. It is possible that the Guildhall of St George is the largest and oldest in England. Walls entered by the South Gate and East Gate were erected to protect the town. The town retains two former Hanseatic League warehouses: Hanse House built in 1475 and Marriott's Warehouse, in use between the 15th and 17th centuries. They are the only remaining buildings from the Hanseatic League in England.

In the first decade of the 16th century, Thoresby College was built by Thomas Thoresby to house priests of the Guild of The Holy Trinity in Lynn. The guild had been incorporated in 1453 on the petition of its alderman, chaplain, four brethren and four sisters. The guildsmen were licensed to found a chantry of chaplains to celebrate at the altar of Holy Trinity in Wisbech, and to grant to the chaplains lands in mortmain. In 1524 Lynn acquired a mayor and corporation. In 1537 the king took control of the town from the bishop and in the 16th century the town's two annual fairs were reduced to one. In 1534 a grammar school was founded and four years later Henry VIII closed the Benedictine priory and the three friaries.

During the 16th century a piped water supply was created, although many could not afford to be connected: elm pipes carried water under the streets. King's Lynn suffered from outbreaks of plague, notably in 1516, 1587, 1597, 1636 and the last in 1665. Fire was another hazard and in 1572 thatched roofs were banned to reduce the risk. During the English Civil War, King's Lynn supported parliament, but in August 1643, after a change in government, the town changed sides. Parliament sent an army, and the town was besieged for three weeks before it surrendered.

A heart carved on the wall of the Tuesday Market Place commemorates the burning of an alleged witch, Margaret Read, in 1590. It is said that as she was burning her heart burst from her body and struck the wall.

The Custom House

In 1683, the architect Henry Bell, who was once the town's mayor, designed the Custom House. Bell also designed the Duke's Head Inn, the North Runcton Church, and Stanhoe Hall. His artistic inspiration was the result of travelling Europe as a young man.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, the town's main export was grain. Lynn was no longer a major international port, although iron and timber were imported. King's Lynn suffered from the discovery of the Americas, which benefited the ports on the west coast of England and its trade was affected by the growth of London.

In the late 17th century, imports of wine from Spain, Portugal and France boomed, and there was still an important coastal trade, it was cheaper to transport goods by water than by road at that time. Large quantities of coal arrived from the North East of England.

The Fens began to be drained in the mid-17th century, and the land turned to agriculture, allowing vast amounts of produce to be sent to the growing market in London. Meanwhile, King's Lynn was still an important fishing port. Greenland Fishery House in Bridge Street was built in 1605. By the late-17th century shipbuilding had become important. A glass-making industry also began at that time.

In the early-18th century, Daniel Defoe called the town "beautiful, well built and well situated". Shipbuilding continued to thrive, as did associated industries such as sail-making and rope-making. Glass-making was prosperous and brewing was another important industry. The first bank in King's Lynn opened in 1784.

A remarkable example of penal brutality occurred on 28 September 1708, when a seven-year-old boy, Michael Hammond, and his 11-year-old sister, Ann, were convicted of stealing a loaf of bread and sentenced to hanging. Their public executions took place near the South Gates. The Member of Parliament at the time was Sir Robert Walpole, generally regarded as the first Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.


King's Lynn railway station

By the late 17th century, the town had begun to decline. This was only reversed by the somewhat late arrival of railway services in 1847, provided mainly by the Great Eastern Railway – subsequently the London and North Eastern Railway, running to Hunstanton, Dereham and Cambridge. The town was also served by the Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway, which had offices in the town at Austin Street, and an important station at South Lynn (now dismantled). This was also its operational control centre until relocation to Melton Constable. The former M&GN lines across Norfolk were closed to passengers in February 1959.

The town's amenities continued to improve into the 20th century. A museum opened in 1904, and a public library in 1905. The first cinema in King's Lynn, the Majestic, was officially opened on 23 May 1928. (The year is commemorated in a stained glass window on the front of the building). The town council began a programme of regeneration in the 1930s.

During World War I, King's Lynn was one of the first towns in Britain to suffer aerial bombing. On the night of 19 January 1915, the town was bombed by a naval zeppelin, L4 (LZ 27), commanded by Captain Lieutenant Magnus von Platen-Hallermund. Eleven bombs were dropped, both incendiary and high explosive, doing extensive damage, killing two people in Bentinck Street, and injuring several others.

When World War II began, it was assumed that King's Lynn would be safe from bombing, and many evacuees were sent there from London. However King's Lynn was not completely safe and suffered several raids.

In 1962, King's Lynn was designated an overflow town for London and its population began to increase. New estates were built at the Woottons and Gaywood. The town centre was redeveloped in the 1960s, with many old buildings destroyed. Lynnsport, a sports centre, opened in 1982. The corn exchange was converted into a theatre in 1996.

The brewing industry had died out by the 1950s, but new industries that came included food canning in the 1930s and soup-making in the 1950s. In the 1960s, the council tried to encourage development by building a new industrial estate at Hardwick. The new industries that arrived included light engineering, clothes and chemicals. However, fishing remained important.

In 2010 The Bridge for Heroes Armed Forces Charity opened a contact centre, which now has an incorporated headquarters, as a support and treatment facility for those suffering from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other mental health issues.


Since 2004, plans have been under way to regenerate the entire town. King's Lynn has undergone a multimillion-pound regeneration scheme.

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

In 2005, the Vancouver Shopping Centre, (now since renamed the Vancouver Quarter) originally built in the 1960s, was refurbished as part of the scheme, with a life expectancy of only 25 years according to the construction firm, and an extension is planned. A new award winning £6 million multi-storey car park was built.

To the south of town, a large area of brownfield land is being transformed into a housing estate locally known as Balamory after the colourful children's programme, and there were ambitions to build another housing estate alongside the River Nar but these were vehemently opposed by local opinion and the economic situation has seen this ambition stopped. There is also a business park, parkland, a school, shops and a new relief road in a £300 million+ scheme.

In 2006, King's Lynn became the United Kingdom's first member of The Hanse (Die Hanse), a network of towns and cities across Europe which historically belonged to the Hanseatic League. Originally this was a highly influential mediaeval trading association of merchant towns around the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, which contributed to the development of King's Lynn.

The Borough Council commissioned a report by DTZ and accepted by the Borough Council published in 2008 which describes King's Lynn as a town with a workforce as being of "low value" and having a "low skills base". The town was further described as having a "poor lifestyle offer". The quality of services and amenities was described as "unattractive to higher value inward investors and professional employees with higher disposable incomes". Average earnings are well below regional and national levels, and a large number of jobs that do exist in tourism, leisure and hotels are both subject to seasonal fluctuations and are poorly paid. Education and workforce qualifications are described also as being below the national average. The borough ranks 150 out of 354 in terms of deprivation.

In 2009, a proposal was submitted for the Campbell's Meadow factory site to be redeveloped to include an 5-hectare (12-acre) employment and business park. This plan had been rejected in favour of Sainsburys, but in June 2011 Tesco was given permission to open a superstore. On 8 June 2010, Tesco unveiled its regeneration plans for the site that would cost £32 million, and might create 900 jobs overall.

Tesco also pledged £4 million of improvements in other areas of the town. Whilst it planned to spend £1.6 million widening the Hardwick Road, the Sainsburys bid was preferred by the Council as it offered more benefits to the town.

The £40 million plans of Sainsbury's for a new superstore, opposite Tesco on the Pinguin Foods site, created an estimated 300 jobs. This was the key to securing the future of Pinguin Foods in King's Lynn. Pinguin Foods is released 12 acres (49,000 m2) of its 44-acre (180,000 m2) site, to accommodate the proposed store. Mortson Assets and Sainsbury’s plan included creating a new link road between Scania Way and Queen Elizabeth Way to improve access and allow the industrial estate to expand and attract new employers, whilst Sainsbury's maintains their store in the town centre. Sainsbury's has pledged £1.75 million for highways improvements and a further £7 million to invest in the Pinguin Foods factory.

Campbell's tower in 2006

At 8.00am on the morning of Sunday 15 January 2012 the landmark, but by then derelict, Campbell's tower was demolished by competition winner Sarah Griffiths, whose father had died following an accident at the factory 17 years previously. Mick Locke, 52, was fatally scalded by a blast of steam in 1995. An estimated three thousand people turned out to witness the tower's final moments. It was Campbell’s first UK factory when it opened in the 1950s, employing hundreds of local workers. At its peak in the early 1990s, it employed more than 700 workers.

A new fire station was opened by the Queen in February 2015.



RIVER GAYWOOD the mouth of the river at Kings Lynn joining the river Great Ouse 12th March 2007
The mouth of Gaywood River

King's Lynn is the northernmost settlement on the River Great Ouse, situated 97 miles (156 km) north of London and 44 miles (71 km) west of Norwich. The town lies about 5 miles (8 km) south of the Wash, a fourfold estuary subject to dangerous tides and shifting sandbanks, on the north-west margin of East Anglia. King's Lynn has an area of 11 square miles (28 km2).

The Great Ouse at Lynn is about 200 metres (220 yd) wide and is the outfall for much of the drainage system of the Fens. 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, and linked to the town centre by one of the oldest ferries in the country. Other districts of King's Lynn include the town centre, North Lynn, South Lynn, and Gaywood.


King's Lynn has a temperate oceanic climate (Köppen: Cfb ). The annual mean daytime temperature is approximately 14 °C (57 °F). January is the coldest month with mean minimum temperatures between 0 to 1 °C (32.0 to 33.8 °F). July and August are the warmest months, with mean daily maximum temperatures of approximately 21 °C (70 °F).

There are two Met Office weather stations close to King's Lynn: Terrington St Clement, about 4 miles (6 km) to the west and RAF Marham, about 10 miles (16 km) to the south south east.

The absolute maximum temperature at Terrington stands at 35.1 °C (95.2 °F) recorded in August 2003, though in a more average year the warmest day will only reach 29.4 °C (84.9 °F), with 13.8 days in total attaining a temperature of 25.1 °C (77.2 °F) or more. Typically all these figures are marginally cooler than the southern half of the Fens due to the not uncommon presence of an onshore sea breeze, and occasional haar (cold sea fog), particularly in early summer and late spring. However, with a strong enough offshore breeze, the area can be notably warm. Terrington (along with Cambridge Botanical Gardens) achieved the national highest temperature of 2007, 30.1 °C (86.2 °F)

The absolute minimum at Terrington is −15.4 °C (4.3 °F), set in January 1979. A total of 41.6 nights will report an air frost at Terrington and 51.9 nights at Marham.

Annual rainfall totals 621 mm (24 in) at Marham, and 599 mm (24 in) at Terrington, with 1 mm or more falling on 115 and 113 days, respectively. All averages refer to the 30-year observation period 1971–2000.

Climate data for Terrington St Clement
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 13.9
Average high °C (°F) 6.5
Average low °C (°F) 0.9
Record low °C (°F) −15.4
Precipitation mm (inches) 54.65
Source: KNMI
Climate data for Marham
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 6.6
Average low °C (°F) 0.5
Precipitation mm (inches) 54.7
Sunshine hours 53.6 73.2 101.7 150.6 204.3 191.1 202.7 192.8 139.8 109.7 69.0 48.1 1,536.6
Source: Met Office


The town has several public parks, the largest one being the Walks, a historic 17 hectare urban park in the centre of King's Lynn. The Walks is the only surviving town walk in Norfolk from the 18th century. The Heritage Lottery Fund donated £4.3 million towards restoration on the park, including the addition of modern amenities. The Walks is also the location of the Red Mount, a Grade II-listed 15th century chapel. In 1998, the Walks was designated by English Heritage as a Grade II National historic park. The Walks as a whole had a different and earlier origin, in that it was at first conceived not as a municipal park, as one understands the term today, but as a single promenade for the citizens away from the smell, grime and bustle of the town centre. Harding's Pits is another public park and lies to the south of the town. It is an attractive informal area of open space with large public sculptures erected to reflect the history of the town. Harding's Pits is managed by local volunteers under a management company and has so far successfully fought off the Borough Council's attempts to turn it into an attenuation drain.


In 2007, King's Lynn had a population of 42,800. At Norfolk's 2007 census, King's Lynn, together with West Norfolk, had a population of 143,500, with an average population density of 1.0 persons per hectare. For figures after 2011 see King's Lynn and West Norfolk.


King's Lynn is linked to the cities of Norwich and Peterborough by the A47, to Cambridge by the A10, to Spalding and the North via the A17. Parts of north and east Norfolk are reached by the A148 and the A149.

South Transport Project

Lynn routes
The developments taking place as part of the King's Lynn South Transport Project

A £7 million programme to redevelop the infrastructure of the town centre in the 2010s was largely provided by the Community Infrastructure Fund. The department programme is a collection of smaller developments, which are detailed below.

Work on a cycle and bus route between the town centre and South Lynn began in June 2010 at a cost of £850,000. It runs 720 metres long, from Morston Drift to Millfleet, with buses in both directions, and features a separate path for pedestrians and bicycles, which coincides with the bus route when crossing the Nar sluice. As part of the development, the Millfleet–St James' Road junction is being developed.

A contraflow lane for bicycles was proposed, but not built along Norfolk Street from Albert Street to Blackfriars Road. This would have included a development of the Norfolk Road/Railway Road junction to better accommodate buses and bicycles. Similar work was to have taken place at the Norfolk Street–Littleport Street junction, so that buses would not get caught in the town-centre gyratory system.

Bus priority measures have been added to four sets of traffic lights along St James' Road. These give buses quicker access to the town centre and normalise journey times.

Southgates Roundabout has been redeveloped. Many of its approach roads have been widened in the run-up to the junction and the road markings redone in an attempt to improve lane discipline. Southgates Roundabout is a noted congestion hot spot.

Other small developments are taking place to make junctions more car-friendly.

Rail and buses

365504 at King's Lynn
A Class 365 train at King's Lynn railway station in November 2009

King's Lynn railway station, terminus of the Fen Line, is the one rail facility in King's Lynn. It provides services to Cambridge and London King's Cross. South Lynn railway station closed to passengers in 1959, as did Hunstanton in 1969.

West Norfolk Council is still ostensibly considering reopening a rail route between the King's Lynn railway station and Hunstanton. The possibility was proposed at a meeting of the council's Regeneration and Environment Panel on 29 October 2008, having last been discussed in the 1990s. An environmental case was made for reviving the line to relieve road congestion.

Nearly all Stagecoach services in the area have been withdrawn, leaving most services in King's Lynn operated by Lynx or Go To Town (West Norfolk Community Transport Project).

King's Lynn is served by the excel bus route between Peterborough and Norwich operated by First Eastern Counties. The Coasthopper route from King's Lynn runs round the Norfolk Coast to Cromer, but since Stagecoach withdrew from Norfolk, the western section has been run by Lynx as Coastliner 36 and extended inland from Wells-next-the-Sea to Fakenham. The Wells–Cromer section is run by Sanders Coaches and still known as Coasthopper, but now extends inland to North Walsham.



Lady Ruth Fermoy, an accomplished concert pianist, moved to King’s Lynn in 1931, as the bride of Lord Edmund Fermoy, who was to become the mayor and MP of the town. She demonstrated her affection for the town by organising concerts to give the local people the chance to listen to professional music of the highest standard.

In 1951 to complement the Festival of Britain, Lady Fermoy organised the King's Lynn Festival of the Arts. She was a close friend and lady-in-waiting to the Queen – later to become Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother – who agreed to become the festival’s patron, and in July 1951 officially opened the restored St George's Guildhall. The Queen Mother was an enthusiastic and active supporter who remained the festival’s patron until her death in March 2002.


The King's Lynn Festival, established in 1951, remains the premier music and arts festival in West Norfolk, attracting many visitors to the town each year for performances by internationally renowned artists. The festival is primarily known for its classical music programme, but it also hosts jazz, choral, folk, opera, dance, films, talks and exhibitions, with dozens of fringe events each year. The 2016 King's Lynn Festival will take place on 17–30 July – the full programme is announced in March.

Literature festivals

The King’s Lynn Literature Festivals are held during a single weekend in March (fiction) and September (poetry) each year, usually in the town hall.


True’s Yard Fisherfolk Museum is a display of the social history of the North End fishermen, run entirely by volunteers. It consists of a cottage and a smokehouse. Since 2013, there has also been a local award-winning Military Museum, operated by The Bridge for Heroes Charity to raise funds. Lynn Museum, run by Norfolk Museums Service, on Market Street, contains the local history of the town and a life-size replica of Seahenge.


Festival Too is held on Tuesday Market Place every summer. Past performers include Midge Ure, Deacon Blue, Suzi Quatro, 10cc, Mungo Jerry, the Human League, the Buzzcocks, M People, Atomic Kitten, Kieran Woodcock, S Club, and Beverley Knight.

The Majestic Cinema, located in the town centre, is the town's only cinema.

King's Lynn's main venue for concerts, stand-up comedy shows and other live events is the Corn Exchange, located on Tuesday Market Place. With many smaller venues such as Bar Red and the Wenns supporting the vibrant local music scene as well as many unsigned acts from other parts of the country.

King's Lynn Mart 1
The Mart on the Tuesday Market Place


During the 16th century, King's Lynn's Tuesday Market Place hosted two important trade fairs which attracted visitors from as far as Italy and Germany. As the importance of trade fairs declined, the Mart's nature changed to become a funfair, and was reduced to a single annual event that takes place on 14 February (Valentine's Day), and lasts an average of 14 days.

The Mart is also a memorial to the work of Frederick Savage, a man who worked in partnership with the Showmen's Guild of Great Britain to develop new attractions.


King's Lynn F.C. club (nicknamed "The Linnets") played football in the Northern Premier League. It had its ground at the Walks Stadium on Tennyson Road. It was officially wound up in the High Court in December 2009. In 2010 it re-formed with the new name King's Lynn Town F.C..

King's Lynn also has a speedway team, the King's Lynn Stars, who race at the Adrian Flux 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.

The Town's National League Basketball Club King's Lynn Fury play out of Lynnsport and have represented the town in National Competition since 2004. Lynn Nets formed 2008 also run a programme in local competition.

The historic local field hockey team, The Pelicans, who date their formation to 1920 currently play at Lynnsport having been based in nearby North Runcton until 1996.


In popular culture

Ruth Galloway, the fictional heroine of Elly Griffiths' novels, is a forensic anthropologist who lives in a cottage near King's Lynn and teaches at the University of North Norfolk.

Media appearances

King's Lynn and surrounding villages have since the early 20th century been popular with film and later TV producers. Due to its architecture and landscape, the area often stands in for other parts of the world, notably the Netherlands and France. The town appeared as the Netherlands in The Silver Fleet (1943) and One of Aircraft Is Missing (1942), and Germany in Operation Crossbow in 1965.

The town served as an earlier Dutch New York in the 1985 feature film Revolution (1985 film)|Revolution. Produced by the British production company Goldcrest and starring Al Pacino, it was a box-office disaster. Many locals were used as extras.

In the early 2000s, the BBC used the town bus station, local roads and the nearby Royal estate of Sandringham in the comedy drama series Grass, featuring Simon Day.

  • King's Lynn Minster (St Margaret's)
  • King's Lynn Power Station
  • List of buildings in King's Lynn
  • List of people from King's Lynn


King's Lynn has always been a centre for fishing and seafood (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. It still contains much farm-related industry, including food processing. There are several chemical factories and the town retains a role as an import centre. In general, it is a regional centre for a still sparsely populated part of England.

King's Lynn was the fastest growing port in Great Britain in 2008. Department for Transport figures show that through-put increased by 33 per cent.

In 2008, the German Palm Group began to erect one of the world's largest paper machines, constructed by Voith Paper. With a web speed of up to 2000 metres a minute and a web width of 10.63 metres, it can produce 400,000 tons a year of newsprint paper, based on 100-per-cent recycled paper. The start-up was on 21 August 2009.

A panoramic view of the Vancouver Shopping District

The Port of King's Lynn has facilities for dry bulk cargo such as cereals and liquid bulk products such as petroleum products for Pace Petroleum. It also handles timber imported from Scandinavia and the Baltics and has handling sheds for steel imports.

The Vancouver Shopping District at night

King's Lynn is the prime retail centre in West Norfolk and beyond. The town centre is dominated by budget shops, reflecting the spending power of much of the population. The town centre fulfils a leisure role with entertainment centres, bars and restaurants, and has a range of service functions. It provides about 5,300 retailing jobs.

The town centre has 73,000 sq. m. of retail floor space in 347 shops, which exceeds the comparable centres of Bury St Edmunds and Boston. However, whilst the percentage of floor space in comparison shopping and that occupied by multiple retailers is above the national average, King's Lynn offers a more limited range of choice.

Tourism in King's Lynn is a minor industry, but it attracts visitors to its historic centre, and as a base for visiting the Queen's home at Sandringham and other country houses in the area. Within the town and across the nearby Fenland are some of the finest historic churches in Britain, built in a period when King's Lynn and its hinterland were wealthy from trade and wool.


Three of King's Lynn four secondary schools are in the town: King Edward VII School, the King's Lynn Academy, and Springwood High School. The fourth, St Clements High School, is in the nearby village of Terrington St Clement. The first is known for its physical education department, King's Lynn Academy for its maths and IT specialities, and Springwood for performing arts and drama. The nearest independent school is Wisbech Grammar School in Cambridgeshire.

The town's further education college, the College of West Anglia, was founded in 1894 as King's Lynn Technical School. In 1973 it was renamed Norfolk College of Arts and Technology, and in 1998 merged with Cambridgeshire College of Agriculture and Horticulture, which added campuses in Wisbech (now closed) and Milton, and changed the name to the College of West Anglia. This it retained in April 2006, when it merged with the Isle College in Wisbech.

Notable people

  • Nick Aldis (born 1986), wrestler known as Magnus etc., is billed as from King's Lynn.
  • Robert Armin (c. 1563–1615), actor with Lord Chamberlain's Men and writer, was born in Bishop's Lynn.
  • Thomas Baines (1820–1875), painter and explorer in Africa and Australia, was born in King's Lynn.
  • William Baly (1814–1861), physician extraordinary to Queen Victoria, was born and raised in King's Lynn.
  • Mrs. Bernard Beere (1851–1915), actress
  • Emily Bell (born 1965), journalist and academic, was born in King's Lynn.
  • Martin Brundle (born 1959), racing driver, was born in King's Lynn, as was his racing-driver son Alex in 1990.
  • Frederick Robert Buckley (1896–1976), author and broadcaster
  • Charles Burney (1726–1814), historian of music, served as organist of St Margaret's Church for nine years from 1751.
  • Charles Burney (1757–1817), scholar and bibliophile, was born in Lynn.
  • Frances Burney (1752–1840), novelist (Evelina etc.) and diarist, was born in Lynn.
  • Sarah Burney (1772–1844), novelist, was born in Lynn.
  • John Capgrave (1393–1464), prior, historian and theologian, was born and died in Bishop's Lynn.
  • Richard Carpenter (1929–2012), actor, screenwriter and author, was born in King's Lynn.
  • Gerry Conway (born 1947), percussionist with Cat Stevens etc., was born in King's Lynn.
  • G. G. Coulton (1858–1947), historian and controversialist, was born and partly educated in King's Lynn.
  • J. Crouchman (1858–1947), teacher.
  • Samuel Gurney Cresswell (1827–1867), naval captain and Northwest Passage explorer, born and died in King's Lynn.
  • Joseph Dines (1886–1918), England amateur footballer and Olympic gold medallist (1912), born in King's Lynn.
  • Clara Dow (1883–1969), soprano in Gilbert and Sullivan operas, was born in King's Lynn.
  • Tim FitzHigham (born 1975) multi-award winning comedian, writer and record holder was born in King's Lynn
  • Charles Wycliffe Goodwin (1817–1878) Egyptologist, bible scholar and judge of British Supreme Court for China and Japan was born and raised in King's Lynn. (Brother of Harvey Goodwin)
  • Francis Goodwin (1784–1835), architect, was born in King's Lynn and kept a house there.
  • Harvey Goodwin (1818–1891), bishop and religious writer, born and raised in King's Lynn.
  • Florence Green (1901–2012), one of Britain's oldest people, British World War I veteran, moved to King's Lynn in 1920.
  • William Gurnall (1616–1679), author and clergyman
  • Ian Hamilton (1938–2001), poet and critic, was born in King's Lynn to Scottish parents.
  • Deaf Havana (formed 2005), English post-hardcore rock band, formed in King's Lynn.
  • Charles Edward Hubbard (1900–1980), botanist specializing in grasses, attended King Edward VII Grammar School.
  • John Hullier (c. 1520–1556), Protestant martyr, was burnt at the stake for preaching in Lynn.
  • Jack Huston (born 1982), actor, appeared as Richard Harrow in Boardwalk Empire, in a supporting role in American Hustle, and as the eponymous lead in Ben-Hur (2016 film) historical drama.
  • Kathryn Johnson (born 1967), Olympic field hockey player, was born in King's Lynn.
  • Sir Benjamin Keene (1697–1757), diplomat successful in Spain, was born and educated in King's Lynn.
  • Margery Kempe (ca.1373–ca.1438) first autobiographer in English, born and probably died in Bishop's Lynn.
  • Anne Long (c. 1681–1711) friend of Jonathan Swift, fled from creditors to King's Lynn and died there.
  • George North (born 1992), Wales rugby union international, was born in King's Lynn.
  • Barbara Parker (born 1982), Olympic track and field athlete, was born and educated in King's Lynn.
  • Lucy Pearson (born 1972), women's test cricketer and educationalist, was born in King's Lynn.
  • Ali Price (born 1993), Scotland Rugby Union player, born in King's Lynn.
  • Miranda Raison (born 1977), actress
  • William Richards (1749–1818), Baptist minister, wrote a history of Lynn.
  • Edward Villiers Rippingille (c. 1790–1859), genre and portrait painter, was born in King's Lynn of farming parents.
  • Joan G. Robinson (1910–1988), children's writer, lived in King's Lynn with her writer husband Richard Gavin Robinson.
  • George Russell (born 1998), Formula One driver for Mercedes
  • Martin Saggers (born 1972), England cricketer and umpire, was born and raised in King's Lynn.
  • Hardiman Scott (1920–1999), journalist, broadcaster and novelist, was born in King's Lynn.
  • Helen Slatter (born 1970), Olympic swimmer, was born in King's Lynn.
  • Roger Taylor (born 1949) musician and drummer of Queen, born in King's Lynn.
  • Adam Thoroughgood (1604–1640), leading colonist in Virginia Colony, was born and raised in Lynn.
  • Simon Thurley (born 1962), architectural historian and head of English Heritage, owns a second home in King's Lynn.
  • Gwladys Sutherst Townshend (1884–1959), Marchioness of Townshend, served as Mayor of King's Lynn in 1929.
  • George Vancouver (1757–1798), naval officer and explorer after whom Vancouver, BC, is named, was born in Lynn.
  • Lucy Verasamy (born 1980), TV weather forecaster, attended King Edward VII School.

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