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St Nicholas' Chapel, King's Lynn. Exterior

St Nicholas' Chapel

St Ann's Street,King's Lynn

The chapel is a seasonal visitor attraction and year round event venue.

From the tip of its 19th century spire down to the Norman foundations everything about this building is dazzling.  Light floods in past the tracery of the magnificent west window, while the vivid colours of the east window bring bible stories to life.  Monuments from the 17th and 18th centuries celebrate King's Lynn's seamen, merchants and mayors, illustrating the town's long history as a busy commercial centre and port.  Among these monuments is a marble urn designed by famous Scottish architect, Robert Adam.

The carved woodwork is of such quality that some of it is now on display at the V&A Museum, but the medieval stalls are still home to a collection of weird and wonderful creatures.  Up in the 15th century roof, carved wooden angels sing and play musical instruments.  At your feet is a fantastic collection of ledger stones.  The consistory court in the north-west corner is a very rare survival; dating from 1617, this was where the Archdeacon would judge cases relating to church law.

The organ is thought to be the last completed by ‘Father’ Henry Willis and is still very much in use, as are the bells.

St Nicholas’ Chapel is a Grade 1 listed building and largest chapel-or-ease in the country.  It is in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust, the national charity protecting historic churches at risk.  Following a £2.7m regeneration project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund the chapel reopened to the public in 2015 and continues to operate as a seasonal visitor attraction and year round event venue.

The first place of worship on the site was founded around 1146, a modest subsidiary to St Margaret’s Church (now King’s Lynn Minster), established to serve the second town emerging north of the Purfleet and centred around the Tuesday Market Place; rebuilt some 50 years later, what remains of that second building can be seen in the tower’s east wall, constructed in around 1225.

Storms and pestilence ravaged Lynn in the 14th century, resulting in many empty and flood damaged properties that went on to be purchased by prominent merchants of the time; they cleared the ground, raised it above flood level and built a glorious chapel to demonstrate their wealth and power.  Construction started in the 1380s and by 1411 the building as we see it today was complete. 

The medieval interior was mostly lost to the Reformation or the Victorians, although the roof angels are a wonderful survival.  Subsequent generations made changes and additions reflecting the tastes of their times, in memorials, stained glass and pews.  In the late 19th century it was adopted by the local fishing community residing in the distinct area of Lynn known as the North End, so became known as the Fisherman’s Chapel.  The 20th century saw the beginnings of the King’s Lynn Festival in 1951, with the chapel as the main venue.  Now heading into the 21st century, the chapel aims to remain as relevant to visitors and audiences today as it has been throughout its rich and diverse history.

Prices

As a visitor attraction entry is free, although donations are always welcome!

For activities and events the entry price varies and is set by the organiser.

Facilities

  • School Trips
  • Free Entry
  • Accepts groups
  • Coach parties accepted
  • Hen/Stag Dos Welcome
  • Dogs Accepted
  • WiFi or internet access
  • Baby changing facilities
  • Children welcome
  • Bar area
  • Board/Flipchart
  • Facilities for conferencing
  • Facilities for corporate hospitality
  • Grounds for outdoor activities
  • Sole use of venue
  • Wedding receptions
  • Facilities for educational visits
  • Facilities for groups
  • Guided tours for groups
  • Mini Coach Parties Accepted
  • Assistance dogs welcome
  • Disabled access
  • Disabled toilets

Opening times

The chapel is a seasonal visitor attraction and year round event venue.  

Opening for general visiting in focused around the warmer months, usually from Spring until late Autumn.  Our wonderful Visitor Welcome volunteers are happy to help you enjoy the building or leave you to explore yourself.   There are guidebooks available to purchase and free trails for children to enjoy.  More specific information on opening hours is available on the Churches Conservation Trust website but please be aware we are dependent on the goodwill of our volunteers to open to the public.  Entry is free but donations are always appreciated!

The chapel operates as a mixed use venue throughout the year, with a vibrant and varied selection of concerts, exhibitions and other events which we hope cater for all tastes.  We love to share the many wonders of the building so group tours and visits are also welcomed by prior arrangement, along with any enquiries relating to hire of the building for events and activities.

Location

St Nicholas' Chapel,
St Ann's Street,
King's Lynn,
Norfolk,
PE30 1LT

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