KING'S LYNN (LYNN or LYNN REGIS), a market town, seaport and municipal and parliamentary borough of Norfolk, England, on the estuary of the Great Ouse near its outflow into the Wash. Pop. (1901), 20,288. It is 97 m. N. by E. from London by the Great Eastern railway, and is also served by the Midland and Great Northern joint line. On the land side the town was formerly defended by a fosse, and there are still considerable remains of the old wall, including the handsome South Gate of the 15th century. Several by-channels of the river, passing through the town, are known as fleets, recalling the similar flethe of Hamburg. The Public Walks forms a pleasant promenade parallel to the wall, and in the centre of it stands a picturesque octagonal Chapel of the Red Mount, exhibiting ornate Perpendicular work, and once frequented by pilgrims. The church of St Margaret, formerly the priory church, is a fine building with two towers at the west end, one of which was formerly surmounted by a spire, blown down in 1741. Norman or transitional work appears in the base of both towers, of which the southern also shows Early English and Decorated work, while the northern is chiefly Perpendicular. There is a fine Perpendicular east window of circular form. The church possesses two of the finest monumental brasses in existence, dated respectively 1349 and 1364. St Nicholas .chapel, at the north end of the town, is also of rich Perpendicular workmanship, with a tower of earlier date. All Saints' church in South Lynn is a beautiful Decorated cruciform structure. Of a Franciscan friary there remains the Perpendicular Grey Friars' Steeple, and the doorway remains of a priests' college founded in 1502. At the grammar school, founded in the reign of Henry VIII., but occupying modern buildings, Eugene Aram was usher. Among the other public buildings are the guildhall, with Renaissance front, the corn exchange, the picturesque custom-house of the 17th century, the athenaeum (including a museum, hall and other departments), the Stanley Library and the municipal buildings. The fisheries of the town are important, including extensive mussel-fisheries under the jurisdiction of the corporation, and there are also breweries, corn-mills, iron and brass foundries, agricultural implement manufactories, ship-building yards, rope and sail works. Lynn Harbour has an area of 30 acres and an average depth at low tide of 10 ft. There is also good anchorage in the roads leading from the Wash to the docks. There are two docks of 6f and 10 acres area respectively. A considerable traffic is carried on by barges on the Ouse. The municipal and parliamentary boroughs of Lynn are co-extensive; the parliamentary borough returns one member. The town is governed by a mayor, 6 aldermen and 18 councillors. Area, 3061 acres.
As Lynn (Lun, Lenne, Bishop's Lynn) owes its origin to the trade which its early settlers carried by the Ouse and its tributaries its history dates from the period of settled occupation by the Saxons. It belonged to the bishops of Thetford before the Conquest and remained with the see when it was translated to Norwich. Herbert de Losinga (c. 1054-1119) granted its jurisdiction to the cathedral of Norwich but this right was resumed by a later bishop, John de Gray, who in 1204 had obtained from John a charter establishing Lynn as a free borough. A fuller grant in 1206 gave the burgesses a gild merchant, the busting court to be held once a week only, and general liberties according to the customs of Oxford, saving the rights of the bishop and the earl of Arundel, whose ancestor William D'Albini had received from William II. the moiety of the tolbooth.
Among numerous later charters one of 1268 confirmed the privilege granted to the burgesses by the bishop of choosing a mayor; another of 1416 re-established his election by the aldermen alone. Henry VIII. granted Lynn two charters, the first (1524) incorporating it under mayor and aldermen; the second (1537) changing its name to King's Lynn and transferring to the corporation all the rights hitherto enjoyed by the bishop. Edward VI. added the possessions of the gild of the Trinity, or gild merchant, and St George's gild, while Queen Mary annexed South Lynn. Admiralty rights were granted by James I. Lynn, which had declared for the Crown in 1643, surrendered its privileges to Charles II. in 1684, but recovered its charter on the eve of the Revolution. A fair held on the festival of St Margaret (July 20) was included in the grant to the monks of Norwich about 1 100. Three charters of John granting the bishop fairs on the feasts of St Nicholas, St Ursula and St Margaret are extant, and another of Edward I., changing the last to the feast of St Peter ad Vincula (Aug. i). A local act was passed in 1558-1559 for keeping a mart or fair once a year. In the eighteenth century besides the pleasure fair, still held in February, there was another in October, now abolished. A royal charter of 1524 established the cattle, corn and general provisions market, still held every Tuesday and Saturday. Lynn has ranked high among English seaports from early times.
See E. M. Beloe, Our Borough (1899) ; H. Harrod, Report on Deeds, etc., of King's Lynn (1874) ; Victoria County History: Norfolk.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)