Record Details

NHER Number:1026
Type of record:Building
Name:St Margaret's Church and Benedictine Priory


A Benedictine Priory and parish church founded by Herbert de Losinga, first Bishop of Norwich, in 1101. The church itself contains some Norman work but was rebuilt in the 13th century, the beginning of a series of almost continuous alterations. The exterior, with its twin west towers, dates mainly from the 15th century. The medieval spire and central lantern collapsed in 1741 and the interior was remodelled by Matthew Brettingham in the 1740s. The church contains two of the largest medieval brasses in England, both dating to the 14th century and depicting the departed in contemporary dress.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TF 6177 1978
Map Sheet:TF61NW

Full description

gBenedictine Priory established on edge of Late Saxon town.
Includes St Margaret's Church.
Some Norman work, 14th and 15th century rebuildings, much 18th-19th century alteration.
E. Rose (NAU), 24 March 1981.

The charnel house is recorded separately under NHER 60527.

See newspaper cuttings (S1) in file.
A. Cattermole (NLA), 27 January 2005.

1951. Listed Grade I.

A rare 15th century, cylindrical, leather chalice case was sold at auction to a 'small American museum'. Decoration on the case included an image of St Margaret and this, along with the fact that the case was previously bought from Wymondham, led to speculation that the case had originally belonged to St Margaret's church, King's Lynn.
See (S8), newspaper article (S9) and Photograph (S10). See [1].
A. Beckham (HES), 6 May 2020.

April 1991.
Removal of roof of north aisle of priory church, Carpenters' marks revealed and photographed. Unusual, not Latin numerals but hourglass shapes, squares, and triangles and in one place an ornate 'G'. However, the rafters do not appear to be of any great age and therefore perhaps belong to the 19th century restoration.
E.M. James (KLM) reports that this roof cannot be older than the mid-18th century because the spire fell onto this side of the church.
E. Rose (NLA), 26 April 1991.

August 1991. Found while renewing the blocking of the transept window behind the organ.
A painted medieval 'statue' and castellated transoms were found. Identification of the 'statue' at Norwich Castle Museum revealed it to be a corbel.
E. Rose (NLA), 9 August and 10 October 1991.

According to (S2) the Trinity Chapel, east of the north transept, was demolished and rebuilt to a narrower line in 1808 for road widening. The new chapel was designed by Francis Goodwin and built by William Newham.
E. Rose (NLA), 14 January 1997.

This is one of the sixty five Norfolk churches selected for (S3).
D. Gurney (NLA), 17 February 2006.

Article [1991 EDP] missing from file
J. Yates, 13 July 2010.

14 March 2014.
Human skeletal remains, of a child with wood and leather, found in trenching for a gas main replacement by National grid adjacent to St Margaret's and in proximity to Pizza Express.
See newspaper article (S4).
D. Gurney (HES), 21 March 2014.

(S5) states that around 1100 Herbert de Losinga founded the parish church of St. Margaret's, Lynn, and attached to it a priory of monks, dedicating the house in honour of St. Mary Magdalen, St. Margaret, and all virgin saints. He endowed it with churches, lands, rents, and men, and granted the priory a market on Saturdays, and a fair at the feast of St. Margaret; but he made the priory of Lynn and all its possessions subordinate to the great diocesan priory of the Holy Trinity, Norwich.
(S6) notes that the earliest parts of the extant building are the beginning of the two west towers, dating from around the middle of the 12th century. The south-west tower is still largely of the 12th-13th century, and appears to have been completed around 1260-70. In the 14th century a new bell-stage was added. The other tower, built from 1453 onwards, is externally Perpendicular throughout. The towers still have their Norman arches to the nave and in the south-west tower the lower arch to the south aisle remains. The Norman church was completely rebuilt in the 13th century, and the chancel, crossing and transepts are internally of that date. The chancel window is Perpendicular, a rose under a pointed arch with quartrefoiled circles in the lower spandrels, and is largely a reconstruction of 1875. The south chancel chapel built in 1433 is five bays long, the north chapel only three. The crossing tower originally carried a lead-covered octagonal wooden lantern, probably modelled on that at Ely. The Perpendicular interior is of 1742-6 by Matthew Brettingham, reworked by Scott in 1875. The Trinity Chapel was designed by Francis Goodwin and built in 1809 by William Newham.
See (S5) and (S6) for further details.
(S7) argues that Herbert de Losinga used the Benedictine Priory to signal his presence, building it in a highly prominent position close to the main outfall of the Wash and beside the Saturday Market Place.
A. Cattermole (King's Lynn UAD), 27 February 2020.

Monument Types

  • BENEDICTINE MONASTERY (Medieval to 16th Century - 1101 AD to 1539 AD)
  • PARISH CHURCH (Medieval to 21st Century - 1101 AD to 2050 AD)
  • PRIORY (Medieval to 16th Century - 1101 AD to 1539 AD)
  • COMMEMORATIVE BRASS (Medieval - 1349 AD to 1349 AD)

Associated Finds

  • COIN (Unknown date)
  • RING (Unknown date)
  • SPOON (Unknown date)
  • COFFIN (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • HUMAN REMAINS (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)

Protected Status

  • Listed Building

Sources and further reading

---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). TF 6120A,B,G,L,M; TF 6119E-G,H-K.
---Designation: Historic England. National Heritage List for England. List Entry 1211336.
---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1998. TF 6120ABZ.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2005. Bequest will make a full octave peal. 28 January.
---Unpublished Document: Rose, E. (NLA). 2005. Building Report.. Building Report.
---Unpublished Document: Rose, E.. 1984. Building Report.. Building Report.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2005. Marking a towering achievement.. 14 June.
---Photograph: Unknown. [unknown]. JT 1-18.
---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TF 61 NW 7 [2]; TF 61 NW 37.
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1991-1995. [Articles on the funding and restoration of St Margaret's Church].
---Unpublished Document: James, E.. 2003. Carved Wooden Figures of Evangelists.
---Unpublished Document: James, E.. 2004. The 'Pellegrini' Painted Panels at St Margaret's.
---Unpublished Document: 1772-1829. St Margaret's Churchwardens Accounts.
---Publication: 1998. St Margaret's, Lynn (church guide).
---Publication: Darby. K.. Carpenter's Marks. pp 86-87.
---Unpublished Document: The Whitworth Co-Partnership. 2006. Project Specification and Schedule of Works for Canon William Richard Hurdman Memorial at the Priory and Parish Church of St. Margaret, King's Lynn, Norfolk.
---Unpublished Document: St Margaret's Church, King's Lynn (church guide)..
---Photograph: Rose, E.. EPU 7-10.
---Photograph: Greenacre, T.. 2005. [unknown].
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1978. Belts of concrete to hold Lynn's learning church. 24 August.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1978-1979. [Articles on the removal of the tower pinnacles at St Margaret's Church and the reuse as an alter].
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1986. Workers stop the rot. 19 January.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1987-1997. [Photographs and drawings of St Margaret's Church].
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1999. Ex-Benedictine priory home. 21 May.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1994. Church's high profile role. 22 July.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1994. Brasses copied. 8 February.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1994. Nearer my god to thee - uplifting experience at St Margraret's church. 4 October.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1995. Church is nearing the pinnacle of restoration. 19 June.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1995. Custom House 'in the pink'. 19 December.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1998. £250,000 appeal for Snetzler restoration. 28 August.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2001. Pulling out the stops at church celebration. 14 July.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1989-1991. [Articles on the sale of Number 17 Priory Lane].
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1974. Lynn cottages transformed. 18 November.
---Leaflet: 1960. A Handbook for Visitors to St. Margaret's Church, King's Lynn.. East Midland Printing Co., Limited.
---Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Medieval. King's Lynn [2].
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Slide: Various. Slide.
---Photograph: Brass of dog AH26-29.
---Collection: Norfolk Historic Environment Record Staff. 1975-[2000]. HER Record Notes. Norfolk Historic Environment Service.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2016. Lynn Minster is added to Heritage at Risk register. 21 October.
<S1>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2005. [Articles on the restoration of the bell at St Margaret' Church]. 27 January.
<S2>Article in Serial: Higgins, D.. 1996. Paving Commissioners.. The Annual. No 5, p 58.
<S3>Publication: Jenkins, S. 2000. England's Thousand Best Churches.
<S4>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2014. [Articles on the medieval remains found at Saturday Market Place, King's Lynn].
<S5>Monograph: Page, W. (ed.). 1906. The Victoria History of Norfolk. The Victoria History of the Counties of England. Vol 2. pp 426-428.
<S6>Monograph: Pevsner, N and Wilson, B. 1999. Norfolk 2: North-West and South. The Buildings of England. 2nd Edition. pp 465-468, 494-495; Pl 14.
<S7>Unpublished Document: Pestell, T. An Analysis of Monastic Foundation In East Anglia c.650-1200. Unpublished PhD thesis. PhD Thesis. pp 238-241.
<S8>Publication: Sotheby's Aution House. 1984. Sotheby's Sales Catalogue of European Sculpture and Works of Art. 13 December. Lot 45.
<S9>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1979. [Unknown, details of a 15th century leather chalice case]. 28 June.
<S10>Photograph: [Unknown]. [1979?]. Photograph of a 15th century leather chalice case. print - black and white. black and white print.

Related records

64021Parent of: 12 to 20 (consecutive) Priory Lane (Building)
64019Parent of: 15 Church Street (Building)
64020Parent of: 17 and 18 Church Street (Building)
64022Parent of: Gate, gate piers and railings to St Margaret's Church (Building)
1231Parent of: Medieval well, medieval and post-medieval pottery sherds, Priory Street (Monument)
60527Parent of: Site of St John's Chapel, charnel house and post-medieval shambles (Monument)

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