Wednesday, 20 May 2015

King's Lynn: St Margaret with St Mary Magdalene and all the Virgin Saints

Before you think I have a complete downer on King's Lynn, I thought I'd share a few of the photos I took on my visit.  As you can see St Margaret's is a big church (235ft long) and bigger still before the loss of the outer north aisle.  Not only one of the three Medieval parish churches in Lynn, the others being St James (demolished) and All Saints, it was also a Priory church founded about 1100; in addition the North End of the town was served by the colossal chapel of St Nicholas.  I am not entirely certain but I think St Margaret's may have been where Margery Kempe the English mystic worshiped. The nave however is not Medieval but the work (1745-6) of Matthew Brettingham, the Neo-palladian architect, a rebuilding of what was destroyed when the lead spire on the south west tower came crashing down during a storm. Not only is the church missing the outer north aisle, charnel chapel and spire, it is also missing the central tower which was octagonal in plan and constructed of wood and sheathed in lead; the church must have been a curious, but splendid sight when entire.  The skyline of Lynn is still pretty impressive when seen from the far bank of the Ouse.  The interior is impressive rather than lovely though the choir is rich in furnishings, and is the most interesting architecturally:  Bodley's great reredos of 1889 is what interested me most.  St Margaret's also contains two of the largest Medieval memorial brasses in England.  The open space on the north side of the church is the Saturday Market and was the centre of Medieval civic life in the King's Lynn.

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