Record Details

NHER Number:5479
Type of record:Building
Name:Custom House

Summary

One of the most recognisable buildings in King's Lynn, the Custom House was built by Henry Bell in 1683 as a merchants' exchange. The building was used as a customs house from the 18th century until 1989. The building originally had an open arcade on the ground floor, supported by Doric columns, which is now filled in. The timber lantern is in the shape of a Greek cross and the building has numerous pilasters and pediments. Inside there are barrel vaulted cellars and a 18th century wooden panelling. The Custom House was the first Classical building to be built in King's Lynn, and it is now open to the public as a museum.

Images

  • The Customs House, King's Lynn.  © Courtesy of Norfolk County Council Library and Information Service.

Location

Grid Reference:TF 6162 2004
Map Sheet:TF62SW
Parish:KING’S LYNN, WEST NORFOLK, NORFOLK

Full description

Custom House.
1683, by Bell, as merchant's exchange. Stone four bays by five, two storeys with dormers with alternate triangular and rounded pediments on north and south. Flat pilasters, Doric on ground floor and Ionic on upper; but rounded pilasters each side of main door to north. Formerly open at base. Statue of Charles II over door. Tall wooden lantern, cruciform dormers below octagonal top. (S1) notes a Tuscan column and good staircase inside. Good condition though rather battered at base.
E. Rose (NAU), 2 November 1977.

(S2) states this stood on the site of a 'religious house of the Trinity Guild'.
E. Rose (NAU).

Interior visited by E. Rose (NLA) 2 October 1991.
Tuscan column mentioned is part of the ground floor arcading; these columns have been damaged by flaking from salt penetration after flooding. The ground floor was walled in in 1718. Staircase remains, but otherwise no internal original features of interest. Building vacant in 1991. There is evidence that the building originally had a spire rather than a cupola, and obelisks disguising chimneys at the corners.
See letter in file discussing this.
Full survey drawings in file.
E. Rose (NLA) 4 October 1991 and 22 January 1992.

Building under restoration in 1995. The hand of Charles II was found to be an inaccurate replacement and is being replaced again.
E. Rose (NLA) 18 Sept 1995.

Photo and press cuttings in file.

Monument Types

  • RELIGIOUS HOUSE? (Unknown date)
  • QUAY (Medieval to Post Medieval - 1066 AD to 1900 AD)
  • (Former Type) CUSTOM HOUSE (1683, Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • (Former Type) EXCHANGE (1683, Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • COMMEMORATIVE MONUMENT (1683, Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • STATUE (1683, Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status

  • Listed Building

Sources and further reading

---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1988. Minister to be lobbied over Custom House. 19 September.
---Aerial Photograph: TF6119 Z,ABL; TF6120 A-D,H,N,P.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1993. Buy Custom House plea to council. 12 February.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1994. New lease of life for landmark. 14 October.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1991. Museum plan for Custom House. 22 February.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1989. Custom House to be restored says owner. 29 September.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1976. Lynn Custom House crack worry. 30 April.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1994. New plan for Custom House. 8 March.
---Scheduling record: English Heritage. List of Buildings of Historical and Architectural Interest.
---Graphic material: Various. Various. Architectural plans..
---Archive: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TF 62 SW 18.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1991. 'Custom House laughing stock'. 22 October.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1993. Custom House sale speculation solved. 27 August.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1995. Lynn's showpiece reveals her secrets. 21 April.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1997. Lottery help to restore Custom House. 10 October.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1989. Just the place for museum (letter to the editor). 31 October.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1992. Custom House plan guarded welcome. 18 May.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2000. Spotlight on Sculpture. 29 September.
---Publication: 1992. Letter. 20 January.
---Photograph: Hodder, J.. 1983.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1988. Lynn's old Custom House sale. 15 July.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1988. Talks to decide Customs future. 11 August.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1988. Help save our heritage (letter to the editor). 7 October.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1988. Hopes rise for Custom House. 29 October.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1989. Custom House sold to development company. 26 September.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1989. 'Gem' bought by developer. 26 September.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1989. 'I'll do the best for the Custom House'. 17 October.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1991. Top expert for Custom House. 8 February.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1991. Owner's pledge on Custom House. 3 September.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1992. New-look Custom House now much nearer. 7 January.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1992. Hopes rise for Custom House. 24 January.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1992. Custom House could be extra cultural centre. 28 January.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1992. Lynn Custom House ideas are welcomed. 23 March.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1992. 'Close watch' on Custom House idea. 8 May.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1993. 'Stupid idea' for council to buy Custom House. 10 September.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1993. New future for historic building. 19 May.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1993. Custom House holiday home plan disclosed. 4 June.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1993. 'No need for any anxiety'. 30 June.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1993. New blow to future of historic landmark. 30 July.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1993. Royal boost for Custom House. 30 July.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1993. Dismay as sea fisheries committee rejects Custom House as new HQ. 3 August.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1993. New move over Lynn landmark. 26 August.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1993. Plan for Custom House holiday lets. 1 October.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1993. Custom House relief. 22 October.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1993. Custom House saga goes on and on…. 5 November.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1993. New bid to buy historic landmark. 9 November.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1993. Buy Custom House appeal. 12 November.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1994. Holiday idea to be decided. 4 February.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1994. Custom House plan could be 'tacky'. 11 February.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1994. Plans for landmark. 11 March.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1994. Landmark enters new era. 15 April.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1994. Yes, But is it Art?. 4 November.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1995. Landmark could be home for heritage. 4 April.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1995. Custom House back in public use. 4 March.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1995. Council could buy historic landmark. 19 July.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1995. Scaffolding eyesore on Custom House. 21 July.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1995. Lynn's Proud Shroud. 11 August.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1995. Gallery appeal for Lynn's art treasures. 15 September.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1995. Custom House 'in the pink'. 19 December.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1995. Christmas Custom returns. 12 December.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1996. Custom house restoration pleases Queen Mother. 9 January.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1997. Custom House future is assured by Lottery grant. 2 December.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1997. Step through Lynn's Custom House door. 12 December.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1998. Landmark's lottery grant. 19 May.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1998. Custom House - open house soon. 19 May.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1999. New lease of life for Lynn's jewel. 26 March.
---Sale Particulars: Cruso Wilkin. 1989. The Custom House, King's Lynn, Norfolk..
---Secondary File: Secondary file.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1994. New move over Custom House. 9 April.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1993. 'No' to Custom House holiday home. 8 October.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1993. Custom House action at last?. 18 May.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1989. Scenic Purfleet plans. 31 October.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1999. Customer in the House. 26 March.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1992. Custom House 'tinkering' fear. 10 March.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1992. Custom House 'for public'. 17 November.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1992. Custom House - new pledge. 17 November.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1993. Custom House decision tomorrow. 27 July.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1997. Work to start on landmark in New Year. 28 November.
---Archive: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Post-Medieval. King's Lynn.
<S1>Serial: Pevsner, N.. The Buildings of England..
<S2>Serial: 1819. Excursions through Norfolk.. 2.

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