|King's Lynn, Norfolk|
From upper left: statue of George Vancouver (foreground) and the Custom House (background), Majestic Cinema, South Gate, St Margaret's Church, Vancouver Quarter
King's Lynn, Norfolk shown within Norfolk
|– London||97 miles (156 km)|
|District||King's Lynn and West Norfolk|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Post town||KING'S LYNN|
|Ambulance||East of England|
|EU Parliament||East of England|
|UK Parliament||North West Norfolk|
King's Lynn / /, also known as Lynn and until 1537 as Bishop's Lynn, is a seaport and market town in the ceremonial county of Norfolk in the East of England. It lies 97 miles (156 km) north of London and 44 miles (71 km) west of Norwich. The population of the town is 42,800.
The town has two theatres, museums and other cultural and sporting venues. There are three secondary schools and one college. The service sector, information and communication technologies and creative industries, provide employment for the population of King's Lynn and the surrounding area.
- 1 History
- 2 Governance
- 3 Geography
- 4 Demography
- 5 Economy
- 6 Transport
- 7 Media
- 8 Education
- 9 Culture
- 10 Notable people
- 11 Location
- 12 In popular culture
- 13 Media appearances
- 14 References
- 15 External links
List of events
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|1101||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|
|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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Historically part of the county of Norfolk, King's Lynn was made a county borough in 1883. The Borough of King's Lynn and West Norfolk was formed by the amalgamation of the Borough of King's Lynn, the Downham Market Urban District, the Hunstanton Urban District, the Docking Rural District, the Downham Rural District, the Freebridge Lynn Rural District, and the Marshland Rural District.
Coat of arms
The shield in the coat of arms of King's Lynn and West Norfolk is the arms of the ancient Borough of King's Lynn, which was recorded at the College of Arms in 1563. The shield shows the legend of Margaret of Antioch, who has been portrayed on the Seals of King's Lynn since the 13th century, and to whom the Parish Church is dedicated.
The per chevron division and the addition of a bordure serve to make the shield distinct from its predecessor while retaining its medieval simplicity. The bordure also suggests the wider boundaries of the new authority, and the new shield is composed of seven parts to symbolise the seven authorities which were amalgamated.
The gull depicted on the crest is a maritime reference. It appeared as a supporter in some representations of the arms, but officially it stands on a bollard in order to make it distinctive. It is supported with a crown or coronet like the King's Lynn supporter, and the lion in the crest of Downham Market Urban District Council coat of arms.
The supporters are based on the crest of the Hunstanton Urban District Council. The lion is a variation of the lions, or leopards, in the Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom and its fish tail suggests the borough's links with the sea.
The fish–lion is also the centre feature in the borough's badge, but here it is surrounded by a garland of oakleaves as a reference to the rural nature of much of the district. Oakleaves are also a feature of the coronet in the crest of the former Downham Market Urban District Council.
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, an estuary on the northwest margin of East Anglia and 12 miles (19 km) from the mouth of the Wash, an area subject to dangerous tides and shifting sandbanks. 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.
Along with the rest of the East of England, King's Lynn has a temperate climate. 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).
Two Met Office weather stations are in close proximity to King's Lynn, Terrington St Clement, about 4 miles (6 km) to the west of the town centre, and RAF Marham, about 10 miles (16 km) due 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/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|
|Record high °C (°F)||13.9
|Average high °C (°F)||6.5
|Average low °C (°F)||0.9
|Record low °C (°F)||−15.4
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||54.65
|Average high °C (°F)||6.6
|Average low °C (°F)||0.5
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||54.7
|Mean monthly 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 1.00 persons per hectare. For figures after 2011 see King's Lynn and West Norfolk.
King's Lynn has always been a centre for the fishing and seafood industry (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), and today, it is still the location for much agricultural-related industry including food processing. There are a number of chemical factories and the town retains a role as an import centre. It is a regional centre for what is still a sparsely populated part of England.
In 2008, the German Palm Group began to erect one of the world's largest paper machines. The machine was constructed by Voith Paper. With a web speed of up to 2000 m/min and a web width of 10.63m, it can produce 400.000 per year of newsprint paper. The production is based on 100% recycled paper. The start-up was on 21 August 2009.
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 large handling sheds for steel imports.
King's Lynn is the primary retail centre in West Norfolk, as well as being the principal centre for people living outside the border of West Norfolk. 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. There are around 5,300 retailing jobs.
The town centre has 73,000 square metres of retail floorspace in 347 shops, which is greater than the comparable centres of Bury St Edmunds and Boston. However, whilst the percentage of floorspace in comparison shopping and that occupied by multiple retailers is above the national average, King's Lynn offers limited range of choice.
Tourism in King's Lynn is a minor industry but still attracts many visitors to its historic centre. The town acts as a base for visiting the Queen's home at Sandringham and other great country houses in the area. Within the town and stretching across the nearby Fenland are some of the finest and most historic churches in Britain, built at a time when King's Lynn and its hinterland were very wealthy from trade and wool.
The town is connected to the local cities of Norwich and Peterborough via the A47 and to Cambridge via the A10. Also it is connected to Spalding and The North via the A17. As well as to other parts of Norfolk by the A148 and the A149
South Transport Project
A £7 million programme to redevelop King's Lynn's Town Centre's infrastructure is due for completion in 2011. The majority of the money is provided by the Community Infrastructure Fund. The department program is a collection of smaller developments which are detailed below.
A cycle and bus route between the town centre and South Lynn started in June 2010 at a cost of £850,000. The route will be 720 metres long, running from Morston Drift to Millfleet, with buses travelling in both directions along it. It will also feature a separate path for pedestrians and bicycles, this path will meet the bus route when crossing the Nar sluice. As part of this development, the Millfleet – St James' Road junction will be developed to better accommodate the envisioned increased bus and bike traffic.
A contraflow lane for bicycles was proposed but will not be 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 would have taken place at the Norfolk Street – Littleport Street junction so that buses do not get caught in the town centre gyratory system.
Southgates Roundabout has also been redeveloped. Many of the approach roads will be widened in the run up to the junction and the road markings will be redone in an attempt to improve lane discipline. Southgates Roundabout is a noted congestion hotspot by the county council and thus targeted by this scheme as a point to be developed.
Other small developments are taking place to make junctions more car-friendly.
King's Lynn railway station is the only rail line providing rail transportation to King's Lynn, and is the terminus of the Fen Line. The station provides connections to Cambridge and London King's Cross. It is the only remaining station of several the town once hosted. South Lynn railway station closed to passengers in 1959, and the railway line to the Hunstanton railway station was closed in 1969.
West Norfolk Council are considering reopening the railway route between the King's Lynn railway station and the Hunstanton railway station. The possibility of reinstating the line was proposed at a meeting of the council's Regeneration and Environment Panel on 29 October 2008. The re-opening of the route was last discussed in the 1990s. The environmental case for reviving the line and relieving road congestion in and around Hunstanton is considered to be even stronger.
King's Lynn has two local newspapers, Your Local Paper is the largest distributed paper within West Norfolk, it is a free independent newspaper that is printed by The Guardian once-weekly on a Friday. The Lynn News is a twice-weekly newspaper largely funded by advertising, owned by East Midlands Newspapers. The Lynn News has one regional sister newspaper; the Peterborough Evening Telegraph.
The local college runs a web-based TV station produced by the media department's students, entitled SpringboardTV.com, and runs an awards ceremony at the end of every academic year. This year,[when?] the station itself won an award[which?] for most outstanding media department within the entire United Kingdom.[when?]
King's Lynn has four secondary schools, three of which 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, academically, for its physical education department. King's Lynn Academy is known for its maths and IT specialities, while Springwood specialises in performing arts and drama. The nearest independent school is Wisbech Grammar School in Cambridgeshire.
The town contains a further education college, the College of West Anglia, founded in 1894 as the King's Lynn Technical School. In 1973, it was renamed the Norfolk College of Arts and Technology, and in 1998 it merged with the Cambridgeshire College of Agriculture and Horticulture, which added campuses in Wisbech and Milton. In April 2006, the college merged with the Isle College in Wisbech to form the College of West Anglia.
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.
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. 
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.
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 basketball team, Lynn Nets, is also based in King's Lynn.
- 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.
- 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 (1772–1884), 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.
- Samuel Gurney Cresswell (1827–1847), naval captain and Northwest Passage explorer, was born and died in King's Lynn.
- Joseph Dines (born 1886), England amateur international footballer and Olympic gold medallist (1912), was born in King's Lynn.
- Clara Dow (1883–1969), soprano in Gilbert and Sullivan operas, 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, was born and raised in King's Lynn. (Brother of Charles Wycliffe Goodwin)
- Florence Green (1901–2012), one of Britain's oldest people and last surviving 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 consisting of James Veck-Gilodi, Lee Wilson, Tom Ogden and Chris Pennells, was 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.
- 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 (c. 1373 – 1438 or after), visionary and first autobiographer in the English language, was born and probably died in Bishop's Lynn.
- Anne Long (c. 1681–1711), society beauty and 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.
- Martin Saggers (born 1972), England cricketer and umpire, was born and raised in King's Lynn.
- Jack Hardiman Scott (1920–1999), journalist, broadcaster and novelist, was born in King's Lynn.
- 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 husband, writer Richard Gavin Robinson.
- 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.
- George Vancouver (1757–1798), naval officer and explorer for whom Vancouver, BC, is named, was born in Lynn.
In popular culture
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. It appeared as France in 'Allo 'Allo!, the long-running BBC comedy, and nearby Fenland villages appeared as France in Joe Wright's Atonement (film)|Atonement. The nearby sandpit at Bawsey/Leziate appeared as the Sudan in an the BBC series, Dad's Army, while flashback sequences of Corporal Jones's war recollections were cited here in the episode "Two and a Half Feathers", which was drew on the classic 1902 A. E. W. Mason novel The Four Feathers. The sequences integrated footage from the 1939 Alexander Korda film production and dramatic music from the DeWolfe music library.
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. The BBC series Lovejoy also used the town, as did the Anglia Television series Tales Of The Unexpected and the Granada series Sherlock Holmes, starring Jeremy Brett in the title role. The last had King's Lynn as the Limehouse area of London, with old back streets and listed buildings appearing as an opium den. The recognisable Town Hall, with its flint-coated front, appeared near the beginning of the episode, which was called The Man With the Twisted Lip.
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. It has in the last few years appeared many times on programmes such as the BBC's Antiques Road Trip, Flog It!, and a BBC Four documentary following the trail of John, King of England and how he lost his treasure in the Wash. The nearby village of Castle Rising appeared in the 1980s Oscar-winning feature 'Out Of Africa' as a Danish port.
- 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
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