King’s Lynn’s history stretches back to the 12th century and beyond when it was one of England’s most important ports. The town’s rich past has left a magnificent heritage of architecture and stories to be discovered.
A great place to start your visit is the iconic Custom House (see below), home to the Tourist Information Centre where you can also discover the story of King’s Lynn’s maritime history. Pick up a FREE copy of the Discover King’s Lynn Heritage Trail, Pilgrimage Trail, Hanseatic Trail and Maritime Trail leaflets.
It was the town’s own Henry Bell (1647-1711) who made the greatest architectural impact on King’s Lynn when he literally shaped its landscape in the 17th Century. Hired by the influential merchants, who ruled King’s Lynn during the post-Restoration period, Bell was tasked with creating statement buildings that would convey the town’s sophistication and draw Europeans to spend their money within the town.
The pinnacle of his architecture is arguably the Custom House, an elegant merchants’ exchange, though there are other buildings throughout the area that feature his designs.
To learn more about King’s Lynn’s historic buildings, take a fascinating guided tour with the King’s Lynn Town Guides.
A whole variety of historic buildings displaying a wide range of architectural styles can be seen throughout the town:
King‘s Lynn Minster
One of the largest town churches in the country, formerly known as St. Margaret’s Church. Founded in 1101 and partially rebuilt in 1741 after the spire collapsed onto the nave in the storm. Look out for the flood level markings by the west door.
Hanseatic Warehouses dating from 1475. Built around a narrow court, these large warehouses were owned by Hanseatic League merchants until 1751.
Two beautifully restored Victorian fisherman’s cottages, now a museum.
St. George’s Guildhall
The largest surviving 15th century guildhall in England, restored in 1945-50.
The Marriott’s Warehouse
A river-facing 16th century warehouse, now home to The Marriott’s Warehouse restaurant and bar.
An early 17th century merchant’s house, built by a local rope merchant. In the 18th century, as The Greenland Fishery, it was an inn used by Lynn’s whaling fleet sailors.
Clifton House and Tower
Two medieval merchant’s houses combined in a Tudor building and remodelled in the 18th century. It houses a 5-storey Elizabethan Watchtower to rear.
A fine Tudor building, incorporating a beautiful courtyard, Thoresby College originally housed the priests of the Trinity Guild.
The Custom House
An elegant classical building designed by Henry Bell. Built in 1683 and opened as a merchants exchange in 1685.
The Walks and Red Mount Chapel
An historic town park, with tree lined avenues, open daily. You will also find the unique 15th century Red Mount Chapel in the Walks, a grade 1 listed ancient scheduled monument.
St Nicholas’ Chapel
England’s largest surviving Parochial Chapel. 15th century wooden roof features a series of beautifully carved angels. Mostly open from July to September, but at certain days out-of-season.
An imposing 15th Century gateway, and Grade 1 Listed Ancient Scheduled Monument. The last major piece of Lynn’s fortifications.
Alive Corn Exchange
A corn market hall, built in 1854. View its dramatic classical facade. The Corn Exchange was converted to a concert hall in 1996 and now a popular venue for a variety of shows and concerts.
Built in the 14th century as a house and warehouse by a wealthy merchant, later wings were added in the 15th and 17th centuries. It is now restored.
An Edwardian public library funded and opened by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Open Monday to Saturday.
All Saints Church
The church’s foundations date back to Saxon times but it was largely rebuilt in the 14th century. The Nave retains the original massive tie beams and queen posts of the medieval church, together with other medieval architectural features.
The Lynn Museum
Recently restored Victorian Union Baptist Chapel.
This 13th – 15th century tower of Lynn’s Franciscan friary.