Ten great reasons to visit King's Lynn
PUBLISHED: 11:35 13 April 2010 | UPDATED: 17:02 20 February 2013
King's Lynn is one of the most diverse towns in Norfolk, with a long maritime history, a colourful shopping and market centre, and a thriving festival tradition, says Chris Bishop.
Ten great reasons to visit King's Lynn
Kings Lynn is one of the most diverse towns in Norfolk, with a long maritime history, a colourful shopping and market centre, and a thriving festival tradition, says Chris Bishop.
Theres a host of well-preserved medieval buildings lining Lynns historic quarter, which stretches along King Street and Nelson Street. For a different view of the town, catch the ferry across the river and stroll along the boardwalk, which offers sweeping views.
In Tower Street, Greyfriars Tower is all that now remains of a large friary. Restored with a Lottery grant a few years ago, after it appeared in a reality TV restoration show, the 700-year-old leaning tower was once used as an observatory by the friars, who were interested in astronomy.
Lynn Corn Exchange offers everything from high opera to hard rock over a typical season. Check whats on for a few surprises you might be able to catch a concert while youre in town. Marchs highlights include Legends of the Oche (top darts players of the past including Eric Bristow and John Lowe) on March 3; Barbara Dickson on March 10; Bjorn Again on March 19; and the an adults-only Comedy Club on March 25. Go to www.kingslynncornexchange.co.uk for the rest of this years programme.
Few towns of Lynns size can boast a park like The Walks, which had a Lottery-funded facelift two years back. Theres a cafe where you can unwind and watch the world go by, or on Wednesday afternoons you can tour the fascinating Red Mount Chapel, which opened to the public last year after major works on its interior.
Theres a well-stocked Tourist Information Centre in the Custom House, on Purfleet Quay, with knowledgeable staff. One of Norfolks best-known buildings with a long and fascinating history at the heart of Lynns maritime heritage, the Custom House has been lovingly-restored, with the upstairs now home to a small, nautically-themed museum.
Lynn has got some super eateries, such as Norburys, on Tower Street, the Filling Station on Norfolk Street and Florences on St James Street. Theres also the Cornish Pasty shop on the High Street, while the Thai Orchid, in Chapel Street, is famed for its lunchtime buffet.
Pub grub is well catered for around the town centre, with a brace of JD Wetherspoons. There is a Prezzo on the Tuesday Market Place, offering upmarket Italian fare, while the waterside boasts the excellent Riverside Rooms, Bank House and Bradleys. Crofters, in the basement of the Arts Centre on King Street, is tops for coffee and cakes, and dont miss Luigis or Pearl River. And foodies will welcome a new farm shop opening soon at The Crown pub on the A47 at Middleton which will sell locally sourced produce and home-cooked frozen meals.
Kings Lynn is Norfolks festival town, with the prestigious Kings Lynn Festival and the quirky Festival Too a two-week popfest of free concerts on the Tuesday Market Place. This years festival which marks its 60th anniversary takes place from Sunday, July 18 to Saturday, July 31. Event information is already starting to build at www.kingslynnfestival.org.uk. More immediately though March 12 to 14 sees the Kings Lynn Fiction Festival at the Town Hall (see our books pages this month for more information). This festival always draws interesting and acclaimed authors think East Anglian favourites such as Louis de Bernieres and DJ Taylor plus many more keep an eye on www.lynnlitfests.com for details.
Call at the Tudor Rose pub, just off the Tuesday Market Place and you can borrow the key for a peep inside St Nicholas Chapel the imposing 15th century church on St Anns Street. Its flagstones mark the passing of generations of Lynners, including one Robinson Cruso perhaps the inspiration for Daniel Defoe to write about a castaway of the same name when he visited the town! It is also Britains biggest chapel, and well worth a visit.
Remember when they sold sweets from the jar? They still do at Queenies, near the Wenns on Kings Lynn High Street. Theyve got more than 300 types coconut macaroon, Army and Navy tablets, hand-made fudge or peanut brittle anyone? www.queeniessweetshop.co.uk
Independents nestle alongside the multiples like Debenhams and TK Maxx in the High Street and Vancouver Quarter, including the award-winning kitchen gadget emporium, Cook to Perfection, at 2 High Street (www.cooktoperfection.co.uk).
Lynn Museum is closed for the next couple of months, while the finishing touches are put to its centrepiece. Seahenge, the 4000-year-old timber circle found a few miles up the coast at Holme, will finally be complete after 10 years preservation and research. The massive upturned oak stump at the centre of the circle is being installed, to give the dramatic finishing touch to the display in readiness for the museums re-opening in early summer. Elsewhere, the Town House, in King Street, offers a look at life in Lynn through the ages. On St Anns Street, Trues Yard evocatively recreates Lynns North End, which housed the towns fishing community for centuries. It includes a pair of restored fishermans cottages, showing how those who scraped a living from the sea once lived.