King’s Lynn, Norfolk – All Saints’

The last Lynn church to blog is All Saints’. Not the easiest to find – it’s rather hidden in the Hillington Square flats – grid reference TF 621195. The website is here, and they describe their church as The Hidden Pearl.

It is the original parish church of Lynn, and is referred to in a document dated 1101 relating to the building of St Margaret’s. The Saxon church was rebuilt around 1095, and was a splendid medieval church endowed by rich merchants of the parish – and there were rich merchants in this parish. After the Reformation it entered into a period of decline, which culminated in the collapse of the tower in 1763. There were two major restorations in Victorian times – under William Newham 1841-3 and Ewan Christian 1867-9. Since Victorian times it has been firmly in the Catholic tradition of the Church of England. The smell of incense hits you as you enter, and you can see the bell. We were given a good welcome – another cup of tea.

The Catholic roots mean the altars look different, nave, chancel and Lady Chapel. The altar painting in the Lady Chapel is a copy of The Holy Family by Andrea del Sarto by a local artist. The view of the church from the east end is rather nice. There is also part of the painted medieval rood screen.

It is worth looking up at the roof, the bosses, and the Edmund shield.

There is an interesting mix of glass. The Adoration of the Magi, 1933, A.L. Moore & Son of London. The Holy Family going up to Jerusalem, 1929, A.L. Moore again – I like the hand gestures of the angels.

The Transfiguration, 1861, Frederick Preedy. The Good Shepherd, 1901, Heaton, Butler & Bayne. George, Michael and Edmund, the parish war memorial, 1920, Ward & Hughes. King David, Christ the Light of the World, St Alban, 1920, A.L. Moore.

This is a rather lovely memorial stone.

At the East End of the church, so well hidden I had to go back and find it, is an Anchorhold. It held a succession of men and women known as anchorites and anchoresses who lived apart from the world and devoted themselves to a solitary life of prayer. There are mentions of them in wills and writings of the C13 to C15. Margery Kempe, the medieval Lynn mystic, is thought to have visited the anchoress here. Some of the anchorites were wealthy individuals. Anchoresses Isabella and Katherine are recorded as donating rich sets of vestments to the church. The present anchorhold dates from about 1500. It once had a smaller window, to which people would come to make offerings and requests for prayer and counsel. I came face to face with one at an exhibition in Leeds – my blog – and regularly remember Agnes at the Bridge Chapel in Derby.





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