King's Lynn, known until 1537 as Bishop's Lynn, is an English seaport and market town in Norfolk, about 98 miles (158 km) north of London, 36 miles (58 km) north-east of Peterborough, 44 miles (71 km) north north-east of Cambridge and 44 miles (71 km) west of Norwich. The population is 42,800.
The etymology of King's Lynn is uncertain. The name Lynn is said to be derived from the body of water near the town: the Welsh word llyn, means a lake; but the name is plausibly of Anglo-Saxon origin, from the word lean, implying a tenure in fee or farm. As the Domesday Book mentions many saltings at Lena (Lynn), an area of partitioned pools or small lakes may have existed there at that time (1085). The salt may even have contributed to Herbert de Losinga's interest in the modest parish.
For a time it was named Len Episcopi (Bishop's Lynn) while under the jurisdiction, both temporal and spiritual, of the Bishop of Norwich; but during the reign of Henry VIII it was surrendered to the crown, and it then assumed the name of Lenne Regis, or King's Lynn.
The town is and has been for generations generally known by its inhabitants and local people simply as Lynn. The city of Lynn, Massachusetts, just north of Boston, was named in 1637 in honour of its first official minister of religion, Samuel Whiting, who arrived at the new settlement from Lynn, Norfolk.
Lynn originated as a settlement on a constricted site to the south of where the River Great Ouse exits to the Wash. Development began in the early 10th century, but the place was not recorded until the early 11th century. Until the early 13th century, the Great Ouse emptied via the Wellstream at Wisbech. After the redirection of the Great Ouse in the 13th century, Lynn and its port became significant and prosperous.
In 1101, Bishop Herbert de Losinga of Thetford began to construct the first mediaeval town between two rivers, the Purfleet to the north and Mill Fleet to the south. He commissioned St Margaret's Church and authorised a market. In the same year, the bishop granted the people of Lynn the right to hold a market on Saturday. Trade built up along the waterways that stretched inland and the town expanded between the two rivers.
During the 14th century, Lynn ranked as England's most important port. It was considered as vital to England during the Middle Ages as Liverpool was during the Industrial Revolution. Sea trade with Europe was dominated by the Hanseatic League of ports; the transatlantic trade and the rise of England's western ports did not begin until the 17th century. The Trinity Guildhall was rebuilt in 1421 after a fire. Walls entered by the South Gate and East Gate were erected to protect the town. The town retains two former Hanseatic League warehouses: Hanse House built in 1475 and Marriott's Warehouse, in use between the 15th and 17th centuries. They are the only remaining buildings from the Hanseatic League in England.
In the first decade of the 16th century, Thoresby College was built by Thomas Thoresby to house priests of the Guild of The Holy Trinity in Lynn. The guild had been incorporated in 1453 on the petition of its alderman, chaplain, four brethren and four sisters. The guildsmen were licensed to found a chantry of chaplains to celebrate at the altar of Holy Trinity in Wisbech, and to grant to the chaplains lands in mortmain. In 1524 Lynn acquired a mayor and corporation. In 1537 the king took control of the town from the bishop and in the 16th century the town's two annual fairs were reduced to one. In 1534 a grammar school was founded and four years later Henry VIII closed the Benedictine priory and the three friaries.
During the 16th century a piped water supply was created, although many could not afford to be connected: elm pipes carried water under the streets. King's Lynn suffered from outbreaks of plague, notably in 1516, 1587, 1597, 1636 and the last in 1665. Fire was another hazard and in 1572 thatched roofs were banned to reduce the risk. During the English Civil War, King's Lynn supported Parliament, but in August 1643, after a change in government, the town changed sides. Parliament sent an army, and the town was besieged for three weeks before it surrendered.
A heart carved on the wall of the Tuesday Market Place commemorates the burning of an alleged witch, Margaret Read, in 1590. It is said that as she was burning her heart burst from her body and struck the wall.
In 1683, the architect Henry Bell, who was once the town's mayor, designed the Custom House. Bell also designed the Duke's Head Inn, the North Runcton Church, and Stanhoe Hall. His artistic inspiration was the result of travelling Europe as a young man.
In the 16th and 17th centuries, the town's main export was grain. Lynn was no longer a major international port, although iron and timber were imported. King's Lynn suffered from the discovery of the Americas, which benefited the ports on the west coast of England. Its trade was also affected by the growth of London.
In the late 17th century, imports of wine from Spain, Portugal and France boomed, and there was still an important coastal trade. It was cheaper to transport goods by water than by road at that time. Large quantities of coal arrived from the north-east of England.
The Fens began to be drained in the mid–17th century, and the land turned to agriculture, allowing vast amounts of produce to be sent to the growing market in London. Meanwhile, King's Lynn was still an important fishing port. Greenland Fishery House in Bridge Street was built in 1605. By the late 17th century shipbuilding had become important. A glass-making industry also began at that time.
In the early 18th century, Daniel Defoe called the town "beautiful, well built and well situated". Shipbuilding continued to thrive, as did associated industries such as sail-making and rope-making. Glass-making was prosperous and brewing was another important industry. The first bank in King's Lynn opened in 1784.
A remarkable example of penal brutality occurred on 28 September 1708, when a seven-year-old boy, Michael Hammond, and his 11-year-old sister, Ann, were convicted of stealing a loaf of bread and sentenced to hanging. Their public executions took place near the South Gates. The Member of Parliament at the time was Sir Robert Walpole, generally regarded as the first Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
By the late 17th century, the town had begun to decline. This was only reversed by the somewhat late arrival of railway services in 1847, provided mainly by the Great Eastern Railway, subsequently the London and North Eastern Railway, running to Hunstanton, Dereham and Cambridge. The town was also served by the Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway (M&GN), which had offices in the town at Austin Street, and an important station at South Lynn (now dismantled). This was also its operational control centre until relocation to Melton Constable. The former M&GN lines across Norfolk were closed to passengers in February 1959.
The town's amenities continued to improve into the 20th century. A museum opened in 1904, and a public library in 1905. The first cinema in King's Lynn, the Majestic, was officially opened on 23 May 1928. (The year is commemorated in a stained glass window on the front of the building.) The town council began a programme of regeneration in the 1930s.
During World War I, King's Lynn was one of the first towns in Britain to suffer aerial bombing. On the night of 19 January 1915, the town was bombed by a naval Zeppelin, L4 (LZ 27), commanded by Captain Lieutenant Magnus von Platen-Hallermund. Eleven bombs were dropped, both incendiary and high explosive, doing extensive damage, killing two people in Bentinck Street, and injuring several others.
When World War II began, it was assumed that King's Lynn would be safe from bombing, and many evacuees were sent there from London. However King's Lynn was not completely safe and suffered several raids.
In 1962, King's Lynn was designated an overflow town for London and its population began to increase. New estates were built at the Woottons and Gaywood. The town centre was redeveloped in the 1960s, with many old buildings destroyed. Lynnsport, a sports centre, opened in 1982. The corn exchange was converted into a theatre in 1996.
The local breweries had died out by the 1950s, but new industries that came included food canning in the 1930s and soup-making in the 1950s. In the 1960s, the council tried to encourage development by building a new industrial estate at Hardwick. The new industries that arrived included light engineering, clothes and chemicals. However, fishing remained important.
Since 2004, work has been under way to regenerate the entire town through a multi-million-pound scheme. As part of this, the Vancouver Shopping Centre (since renamed the Vancouver Quarter), having been built originally in the 1960s, was refurbished in 2005 as part of the scheme, but was expected to last for only 25 years, according to the construction firm, even with a planned extension. A new award-winning £6 million multi-storey car park was built.
To the south of town, a large area of brownfield land is being transformed into a housing estate locally known as Balamory, after the children's TV programme. There were ambitions to build another housing estate alongside the River Nar, but these developments were vehemently opposed by local people and the economic situation brought them to a halt. There is also a business park, parkland, a school, shops and a new relief road in a £300 million+ scheme.
In 2006, King's Lynn became the United Kingdom's first member of The Hanse (Die Hanse), a network of towns and cities across Europe which historically belonged to the Hanseatic League. Originally this was a highly influential medieval trading association of merchant towns around the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, which contributed to the development of King's Lynn.
The Borough Council commissioned a report by DTZ. This was published in 2008 and accepted by the council. It described King's Lynn's workforce as "low-value" with a "low skills base". The town was further described as having a "poor lifestyle offer". The quality of services and amenities was described as "unattractive to higher-value inward investors and professional employees with higher disposable incomes". Average earnings are well below regional and national levels, and a large number of jobs that exist in tourism, leisure and hotels are subject to seasonal fluctuations and likewise poorly paid. Education and workforce qualifications are also described as below the national average. The borough ranks 150th out of 354 in terms of deprivation.
In 2009, a proposal was submitted for the Campbell's Meadow factory site to be redeveloped to include an 5-hectare (12-acre) employment and business park. In June 2011 Tesco gained permission for a superstore there. On 8 June 2010, Tesco unveiled regeneration plans for the site, which would cost £32 million and were billed to create 900 jobs overall.
Tesco also pledged £4 million of improvements in other areas of the town. Whilst it planned to spend £1.6 million widening the Hardwick Road, the Sainsburys bid was preferred by the Council as offering the town more benefits.
The £40 million plans of Sainsbury's for a new superstore, opposite Tesco on the Pinguin Foods site, created an estimated 300 jobs. This was the key to securing the future of Pinguin Foods in King's Lynn. Pinguin Foods is releasing 12 acres (5 ha) of its 44-acre (18 ha) site to accommodate the proposed store. Mortson Assets' and Sainsbury's plan included creating a new link road between Scania Way and Queen Elizabeth Way to improve access and allow the industrial estate to expand and attract new employers, whilst Sainsbury's maintains their store in the town centre. Sainsbury's has pledged £1.75 million for highways improvements and a further £7 million to invest in the Pinguin Foods factory.
At 8 am on 15 January 2012, the landmark Campbell's Tower was demolished, with competition winner, Sarah Griffiths pulling the switch. Her father Mick Locke had died aged 52 after being scalded by steam at the factory in 1995. It was Campbell's first UK factory when it opened in the 1950s. At its peak in the early 1990s it employed over 700 local workers.
King's Lynn became a county borough in 1883. The present Borough of King's Lynn and West Norfolk was an amalgamation of the Borough of King's Lynn, the urban districts of Downham Market and Hunstanton, and the rural districts of Docking, Downham, Freebridge Lynn, and Marshland.
The shield in the coat of arms of King's Lynn and West Norfolk that of the ancient Borough of Lynn, recorded at the College of Arms in 1563. It shows the legend of Margaret of Antioch, who has appeared on Lynn shields since the 13th century, and to whom the parish church is dedicated.
The per chevron division and addition of a bordure serve to distinguish the shield from its predecessor, while retaining its medieval simplicity. The bordure also suggests the wider boundaries of the new authority, and the seven parts symbolise the seven amalgamated authorities. The gull on the crest is a maritime reference. It has appeared as a supporter in some representations, but officially it stands on a bollard to make it distinctive. It supports a crown or coronet like a King's Lynn supporter, and a lion from the crest of Downham Market.
The supporters are based on the crest of the Hunstanton Urban District Council. The lion is a variation of the lions, or leopards, in the Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom and its fish tail suggests the borough's links with the sea.
The fish–lion is also the centre feature in the borough's badge, but here it is surrounded by a garland of oakleaves as a reference to the rural nature of much of the district. Oak leaves are also a feature of the coronet in the crest of the former Downham Market Urban District Council.
- [[INLINE_IMAGE|//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/b/ba/Flag_of_Germany.svg/23px-Flag_of_Germany.svg.png|//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/b/ba/Flag_of_Germany.svg/35px-Flag_of_Germany.svg.png 1.5x, //upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/b/ba/Flag_of_Germany.svg/46px-Flag_of_Germany.svg.png 2x|Germany|h14|w23|thumbborder flagicon-img flagicon-img]] Emmerich am Rhein, Germany
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King's Lynn is the northernmost settlement on the River Great Ouse, situated 97 miles (156 km) north of London and 44 miles (71 km) west of Norwich. The town lies about 5 miles (8 km) south of the Wash, a fourfold estuary subject to dangerous tides and shifting sandbanks, on the north-west margin of East Anglia. King's Lynn has an area of 11 square miles (28 km2).
The Great Ouse at Lynn is about 200 metres (220 yd) wide and is the outfall for much of the drainage system of the Fens. The much smaller Gaywood River also flows through the town, joining the Great Ouse at the southern end of South Quay close to the town centre.
A small part, known as West Lynn, is on the west bank, and linked to the town centre by one of the oldest ferries in the country. Other districts of King's Lynn include the town centre, North Lynn, South Lynn, and Gaywood.
King's Lynn has a temperate oceanic climate (Köppen: Cfb). The annual mean daytime temperature is approximately 14 °C (57 °F). January is the coldest month with mean minimum temperatures between 0 to 1 °C (32.0 to 33.8 °F). July and August are the warmest months, with mean daily maximum temperatures of approximately 21 °C (70 °F).
There are two Met Office weather stations close to King's Lynn: Terrington St Clement, about 4 miles (6 km) to the west and RAF Marham, about 10 miles (16 km) to the south east.
The absolute maximum temperature at Terrington stands at 35.1 °C (95.2 °F) recorded in August 2003, though in a more average year the warmest day will only reach 29.4 °C (84.9 °F), with 13.8 days in total attaining a temperature of 25.1 °C (77.2 °F) or more. Typically all these figures are marginally cooler than the southern half of the Fens due to the common presence of an onshore sea breeze, and occasional haar (cold sea fog), particularly in early summer and late spring. However, with a strong enough offshore breeze, the area can be notably warm. Terrington (along with Cambridge Botanical Gardens) achieved the national highest temperature of 2007, 30.1 °C (86.2 °F)
The absolute minimum at Terrington is −15.4 °C (4.3 °F), set in January 1979. A total of 41.6 nights will report an air frost at Terrington and 51.9 nights at Marham.
Annual rainfall totals 621 mm (24 in) at Marham, and 599 mm (24 in) at Terrington, with 1 mm or more falling on 115 and 113 days, respectively. All averages refer to the 30-year observation period 1971–2000.
The town has several public parks, the largest one being the Walks, a historic 17-hectare urban park in the centre of King's Lynn. The Walks is the only surviving town walk in Norfolk from the 18th century. The Heritage Lottery Fund donated £4.3 million towards restoration on the park, including the addition of modern amenities. The Walks is also the location of the Red Mount, a Grade II-listed 15th-century chapel. In 1998, the Walks was designated by English Heritage as a Grade II National historic park.
The Walks as a whole had a different and earlier origin, in that it was at first conceived not as a municipal park, as one understands the term today, but as a single promenade for the citizens away from the smell, grime and bustle of the town centre. Harding's Pits is another public park and lies to the south of the town. It is an informal area of open space with large public sculptures erected to reflect the history of the town. Harding's Pits is managed by local volunteers under a management company and has so far successfully fought off the Borough Council's attempts to turn it into an attenuation drain.
In 2007, King's Lynn had a population of 42,800. At Norfolk's 2007 census, King's Lynn, together with West Norfolk, had a population of 143,500, with an average population density of 1.0 persons per hectare. For figures after 2011 see King's Lynn and West Norfolk.
King's Lynn has always been a centre for the fishing and seafood industry (especially inshore prawns, shrimps and cockles). There have also been glass-making and small-scale engineering works (many fairground and steam engines were built here), it is still the location for much agricultural-related industry including food processing. There are a number of chemical factories and the town retains a role as an import centre. It is a regional centre for what is still a sparsely populated part of England.
In 2008, the German Palm Group began to erect one of the world's largest paper machines. The machine was constructed by Voith Paper. With a web speed of up to 2000 m/min and a web width of 10.63 m, it can produce 400,000 m per year of newsprint paper. The production is based on 100-per-cent recycled paper. The start-up was on 21 August 2009.
The Port of King's Lynn has facilities for dry bulk cargo such as cereals and liquid bulk products such as petroleum products for Pace Petroleum. It also handles timber imported from Scandinavia and the Baltics, and has large handling sheds for steel imports.
King's Lynn is the primary retail centre in West Norfolk, as well as being the principal centre for people living outside the border of West Norfolk. The town centre is dominated by budget shops reflecting the spending power of much of the population. The town centre fulfils a leisure role with entertainment centres, bars and restaurants, and has a range of service functions. There are around 5,300 retailing jobs.
The town centre has 73,000 sq.m. of retail floor space in 347 shops, which is greater than the comparable centres of Bury St Edmunds and Boston. However, whilst the percentage of floor space in comparison shopping and that occupied by multiple retailers is above the national average, King's Lynn offers limited range of choice.
Tourism in King's Lynn is a minor industry but still attracts many visitors to its historic centre. The town acts as a base for visiting the Queen's home at Sandringham and other great country houses in the area. Within the town and stretching across the nearby Fenland are some of the finest historic churches in Britain, built at a time when King's Lynn and its hinterland were very wealthy from trade and wool.
The town is connected to the local cities of Norwich and Peterborough via the A47 and to Cambridge via the A10. It is also connected to Spalding and the North via the A17, as well as to other parts of Norfolk by the A148 and the A149
A £7 million programme to redevelop the infrastructure of the town centre was due for completion in 2011. The majority of the money was provided by the Community Infrastructure Fund. The department programme is a collection of smaller developments which are detailed below.
Work on a cycle and bus route between the town centre and South Lynn was started in June 2010 at a cost of £850,000. It will be 720 metres long, running from Morston Drift to Millfleet, with buses travelling in both directions. It will feature a separate path for pedestrians and bicycles, which will coincide with the bus route when crossing the Nar sluice. As part of the development, the Millfleet–St James' Road junction will be developed to cope with the expected increase in bus and bike traffic.
A contraflow lane for bicycles was proposed, but will not be built along Norfolk Street from Albert Street to Blackfriars Road. This would have included a development of the Norfolk Road–Railway Road junction to better accommodate buses and bicycles. Similar work was to have taken place at the Norfolk Street–Littleport Street junction, so that buses would not get caught in the town-centre gyratory system.
Southgates Roundabout has also been redeveloped. Many of its approach roads will be widened in the run up to the junction and the road markings will be redone in an attempt to improve lane discipline. Southgates Roundabout is a noted congestion hot spot.
Other small developments are taking place to make junctions more car-friendly.
King's Lynn railway station is the only rail facility in King's Lynn. It is the terminus for the Fen Line. The station provides services to Cambridge and London King's Cross. South Lynn railway station closed to passengers in 1959, and the line to Hunstanton was closed to passengers in 1969.
West Norfolk Council are considering reopening a railway route between the King's Lynn railway station and the Hunstanton railway station. The possibility of reinstating the line was proposed at a meeting of the council's Regeneration and Environment Panel on 29 October 2008. This had last been discussed in the 1990s. An environmental case was made for reviving the line to relieve road congestion.
Following the withdrawal of nearly all Stagecoach services in the area, most services in King's Lynn are now operated by either Lynx or Go To Town (West Norfolk Community Transport Project).
King's Lynn is also served by the excel bus route between Peterborough and Norwich, operated by First Eastern Counties. The Coasthopper route used to operate from King's Lynn around the Norfolk Coast, to Cromer, but since Stagecoach ceased its Norfolk operations, the western section of Coasthopper has been run by Lynx rebranded as Coastliner 36, and extended inland from Wells-next-the-Sea to Fakenham. The section from Wells-next-the-Sea to Cromer is run by Sanders Coaches; this remains "Coasthopper" branded but has been extended to North Walsham.
The local college runs a web-based TV station produced by the media department's students, entitled SpringboardTV.com, and runs an awards ceremony at the end of every academic year.
King's Lynn has four secondary schools, three of which are in the town; King Edward VII School, the King's Lynn Academy, and Springwood High School. The fourth, St Clements High School, is in the nearby village of Terrington St Clement. The first is known, academically, for its physical education department. King's Lynn Academy is known for its maths and IT specialities, while Springwood specialises in performing arts and drama. The nearest independent school is Wisbech Grammar School in Cambridgeshire.
The town contains a further education college, the College of West Anglia, founded in 1894 as the King's Lynn Technical School. In 1973, it was renamed the Norfolk College of Arts and Technology, and in 1998 it merged with the Cambridgeshire College of Agriculture and Horticulture, which added campuses in Wisbech (now closed) and Milton, and changed its name to the College of West Anglia. In April 2006, the college merged with the Isle College in Wisbech, retaining the name College of West Anglia.
Ruth, Lady Fermoy, an accomplished concert pianist, moved to King's Lynn in 1931, as the bride of Lord Edmund Fermoy, who was to become the town mayor and the local MP. She demonstrated her affection for the town by organising concerts to give the local people the chance to listen to professional music of the highest standard.
In 1951, to complement the Festival of Britain, Lady Fermoy organised the King's Lynn Festival of the Arts. She was a close friend and lady-in-waiting to the Queen – later to become Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother – who agreed to become the festival's patron, and in July 1951 officially opened the restored St George's Guildhall. The Queen Mother was an enthusiastic and active supporter who remained the festival's patron until her death in March 2002.
The King's Lynn Festival, established in 1951, remains the premier music and arts festival in West Norfolk, attracting many visitors to the town each year for performances by internationally renowned artists. The festival is primarily known for its classical music programme, but it also hosts jazz, choral, folk, opera, dance, films, talks and exhibitions, with dozens of fringe events each year.
The King's Lynn Literature Festivals are held during a single weekend in March (fiction) and September (poetry) each year, usually in the town hall.
The Annual Hanse Festival first took Place in 2009.
Stories of Lynn Museum opened in March 2016, as part of the King's Lynn Town Hall complex. Set within the newly-revealed vaulted undercroft of the 15th-century Trinity Guildhall, Stories of Lynn presents the town's collection of objects and an extensive, nationally significant archive in an interactive and multi-media exhibition. True's Yard Fisherfolk Museum is a display of the social history of the North End fishermen, run by volunteers. It consists of a cottage and a smokehouse. Since 2013, there has also been a local award-winning Military Museum, operated by The Bridge for Heroes Charity to raise funds. Lynn Museum, run by Norfolk Museums Service, in Market Street, contains the local history of the town and the Bronze Age timber circle Seahenge.
Festival Too is held in Tuesday Market Place every summer. Past performers include Midge Ure, Deacon Blue, Suzi Quatro, 10cc, Mungo Jerry, the Human League, the Buzzcocks, M People, Atomic Kitten, Kieran Woodcock, S Club, and Beverley Knight.
The Majestic Cinema, located in the town centre, is the town's only cinema.
King's Lynn's main venue for concerts, stand-up comedy shows and other live events is the Corn Exchange, in Tuesday Market Place. Many smaller venues such as Bar Red and the Wenns contribute to the local music scene, along with acts from other parts of the country.
During the 16th century, King's Lynn's Tuesday Market Place hosted two important trade fairs, which attracted visitors from as far as Italy and Germany. As the importance of trade fairs declined, the Mart became a funfair, and was reduced to a single annual event that begins on 14 February (Valentine's Day) and lasts about a fortnight.
King's Lynn F.C. (nicknamed "The Linnets") played football in the Northern Premier League. It played at the Walks Stadium on Tennyson Road. It was officially wound up in December 2009. In 2010 it re-formed as King's Lynn Town F.C., and currently plays in the Southern Football League Premier Central. King's Lynn has a speedway team, the King's Lynn Stars, which races at the Adrian Flux Arena in Saddlebow Road. The track has operated since 1965 on an open licence. It hosted Speedway-type events in the 1950s.
One of the town's basketball clubs, King's Lynn Fury, previously played in the National League out of Lynnsport, and represented the town in national competitions from 2004 to 2017. Lynn Nets, formed in 2008, also runs a programme in local competitions.
- Nick Aldis (born 1986), wrestler known as Magnus etc., is billed as from King's Lynn.
- Robert Armin (c. 1563–1615), actor with Lord Chamberlain's Men and writer, was born in Bishop's Lynn.
- Thomas Baines (1820–1875), painter and explorer in Africa and Australia, was born in King's Lynn.
- William Baly (1814–1861), physician extraordinary to Queen Victoria, was born and raised in King's Lynn.
- Emily Bell (born 1965), journalist and academic, was born in King's Lynn.
- Martin Brundle (born 1959), racing driver, was born in King's Lynn, as was his racing-driver son Alex in 1990.
- Frederick Robert Buckley (1896–1976), author and broadcaster
- Charles Burney (1726–1814), historian of music, served as organist of St Margaret's Church for nine years from 1751.
- Charles Burney (1757–1817), scholar and bibliophile, was born in Lynn.
- Frances Burney (1752–1840), novelist (Evelina etc.) and diarist, was born in Lynn.
- Sarah Burney (1772–1884), novelist, was born in Lynn.
- John Capgrave (1393–1464), prior, historian and theologian, was born and died in Bishop's Lynn.
- Richard Carpenter (1929–2012), actor, screenwriter and author, was born in King's Lynn.
- Gerry Conway (born 1947), percussionist with Cat Stevens etc., was born in King's Lynn.
- G. G. Coulton (1858–1947), historian and controversialist, was born and partly educated in King's Lynn.
- Samuel Gurney Cresswell (1827–1847), naval captain and Northwest Passage explorer, was born and died in King's Lynn.
- Joseph Dines (1886–1918), England amateur international footballer and Olympic gold medallist (1912), was born in King's Lynn.
- Clara Dow (1883–1969), soprano in Gilbert and Sullivan operas, was born in King's Lynn.
- Tim FitzHigham (born 1975) multi-award winning comedian, writer and record holder was born in King's Lynn
- Charles Wycliffe Goodwin (1817–1878) Egyptologist, bible scholar and judge of British Supreme Court for China and Japan was born and raised in King's Lynn. (Brother of Harvey Goodwin)
- Francis Goodwin (1784–1835), architect, was born in King's Lynn and kept a house there.
- Harvey Goodwin (1818–1891), bishop and religious writer, was born and raised in King's Lynn. (Brother of Charles Wycliffe Goodwin)
- Florence Green (1901–2012), one of Britain's oldest people and last surviving British World War I veteran, moved to King's Lynn in 1920.
- William Gurnall (1616–1679), author and clergyman
- Ian Hamilton (1938–2001), poet and critic, was born in King's Lynn to Scottish parents.
- Deaf Havana (formed 2005), English post-hardcore rock band consisting of James Veck-Gilodi, Lee Wilson, Tom Ogden and Chris Pennells, was formed in King's Lynn.
- Charles Edward Hubbard (1900–1980), botanist specializing in grasses, attended King Edward VII Grammar School.
- John Hullier (c. 1520–1556) Protestant martyr, was burnt at the stake for preaching in Lynn.
- Kathryn Johnson (born 1967), Olympic field hockey player, was born in King's Lynn.
- Sir Benjamin Keene (1697–1757), diplomat successful in Spain, was born and educated in King's Lynn.
- Margery Kempe (c. 1373 – 1438 or after), visionary and first autobiographer in the English language, was born and probably died in Bishop's Lynn.
- Anne Long (c. 1681–1711), society beauty and friend of Jonathan Swift, fled from creditors to King's Lynn and died there.
- George North (born 1992), Wales rugby union international, was born in King's Lynn.
- Barbara Parker (born 1982), Olympic track and field athlete, was born and educated in King's Lynn.
- Lucy Pearson (born 1972), women's test cricketer and educationalist, was born in King's Lynn.
- Martin Saggers (born 1972), England cricketer and umpire, was born and raised in King's Lynn.
- Jack Hardiman Scott (1920–1999), journalist, broadcaster and novelist, was born in King's Lynn.
- William Richards (1749–1818), Baptist minister, wrote a history of Lynn.
- Edward Villiers Rippingille (c. 1790–1859), genre and portrait painter, was born in King's Lynn of farming parents.
- Joan G. Robinson (1910–1988), children's writer, lived in King's Lynn with her writer husband Richard Gavin Robinson.
- George Russell (born 1998), Formula One driver for Williams
- Helen Slatter (born 1970), Olympic swimmer, was born in King's Lynn.
- Roger Taylor (born 1949) musician and drummer of Queen, born in King's Lynn.
- Adam Thoroughgood (1604–1640), leading colonist in Virginia Colony, was born and raised in Lynn.
- Simon Thurley (born 1962), architectural historian and head of English Heritage, owns a second home in King's Lynn.
- Gwladys Sutherst Townshend (1884-1959), Marchioness of Townshend, served as Mayor of King's Lynn in 1929.
- George Vancouver (1757–1798), naval officer and explorer after whom Vancouver, BC, is named, was born in Lynn.
- Lucy Verasamy (living), TV weather forecaster, attended King Edward VII School.
- Ali Price (born 1993), Scotland Rugby Union player, born in King's Lynn.
In popular culture
Peter Grainger's DC Smith Investigation series of detective novels is set in "Kings Lake", a thinly-disguised analogue of King's Lynn.
King's Lynn and surrounding villages have since the early 20th century been popular with film and later TV producers. Due to its architecture and landscape, the area often stands in for other parts of the world, notably the Netherlands and France. The town appeared as the Netherlands in The Silver Fleet (1943) and One of Aircraft Is Missing (1942), and Germany in Operation Crossbow in 1965. It appeared as France in 'Allo 'Allo!, the long-running BBC comedy, and nearby Fenland villages appeared as France in Joe Wright's Atonement. The nearby sandpit at Bawsey/Leziate appeared as the Sudan in the BBC series, Dad's Army, while flashback sequences of Corporal Jones's war recollections were cited here in the episode "Two and a Half Feathers", which drew on the classic 1902 A. E. W. Mason novel The Four Feathers. The sequences integrated footage from the 1939 Alexander Korda film production and dramatic music from the DeWolfe music library.
The town served as an earlier Dutch New York in the 1985 feature film Revolution. Produced by the British production company Goldcrest and starring Al Pacino, it was a box-office disaster. Many locals were used as extras. The BBC series Lovejoy also used the town, as did the Anglia Television series Tales Of The Unexpected and the Granada series Sherlock Holmes, starring Jeremy Brett in the title role. The last had King's Lynn as the Limehouse area of London, with old back streets and listed buildings appearing as an opium den. The recognisable Town Hall, with its flint-coated front, appeared near the beginning of the episode, which was called The Man With the Twisted Lip.
In the early 2000s, the BBC used the town bus station, local roads and the nearby Royal estate of Sandringham in the comedy drama series Grass, featuring Simon Day. It has in the last few years appeared many times on programmes such as the BBC's Antiques Road Trip, Flog It!, and a BBC Four documentary 'The Last Journey of the Magna Carta King' following the trail of John, King of England and how he lost his treasure in the Wash. The nearby village of Castle Rising appeared in the 1980s Oscar-winning feature 'Out Of Africa' as a Danish port.