King’s Lynn, Norfolk – St John the Evangelist

The next church was St John the Evangelist. It’s in The Walks, not far from the station – grid reference TF 623199. It has a website,  but no posh guidebook like St Nicholas, just an A4 sheet of paper. It is known as the poor man’s church, the first Anglican church to be erected in King’s Lynn since the Reformation. It was built with good buttresses. We were welcomed into the hall at the front, refreshments, a second hand sale, and nice conversation. I also liked the piano notice.

St John’s was founded by John Motteux, at that time the owner of the Sandringham and Beechamwell estates. Presumably this is one of his residences. In 1843 he was staying in Lynn and went to St Nicholas church. He sat down in an unoccupied seat, and was asked to move by one of the Sexton’s as it belonged to someone who rented it. He sat somewhere else, and was told to move again. He left, and offered £1000 (later doubled) for a new church where the seats would be free. I’m not sure if there is delicious irony in the fact that St John’s is open for worship and St Nicholas is not, or a sense of injustice that St Nicholas feels financially well-supported, and St John’s doesn’t.

A committee to build was founded under the chairmanship of Daniel Gurney. He was the youngest brother of Elizabeth Fry, and worked in the Lynn branch of Gurney’s bank. Can you imagine a bank manager today organising the building of a church? (Daddy, what’s a bank manager? Daddy, what’s a bank?) The committee appointed Anthony Salvin as architect. Although he was a church restorer, he is better known as a designer of county houses – website. He was responsible for renovating the Round Church in Cambridge, which I must visit sometime when Julie is lost in Heffers. St John’s opened in 1846, and we found a good display of church history in the Nave. Look at the wonderful warning notice.

An interesting collection of good Victorian church furniture – the pews went in 2006 (I wonder if that was a fight). The pulpit is 1885, in memory of Francis and Rachel Cresswell, she was the daughter of Elizabeth Fry. I like the faces on the pulpit – they look Victorian too! The font was moved to its present position in 1980. I like the faces on the font cover too – they ate to 1946 and look a little less severe.

We’ll let one memorial tablet stand for all those men and women who have kept this church open and active for 172 years (indeed this gentleman was part of it for half its life!).



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