History of King’s Lynn in 100 objects, January 5, 2016

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The painter of this work, James Sillett, was born in Norwich in 1764. After training as an heraldic painter he became a member of the Norwich School of Artists. In 1804 he moved his family to Lynn where he established a teaching practice. Such was the volume of his work that in 1808 he was able to mount an exhibition of some 200 of his paintings at Lockett’s coffee house near the Tuesday Market Place. He is best known in the town for the series of views he made to illustrate Richard’s History of Lynn which was published in 1812.

It is easy to imagine Sillett in 1813 close to the entrance of the New Walk to prepare the sketches for this work. The coach so prominently depicted was called the Norwich and as its name implies it made the daily round trip to the county town and back. It set out at 7o’clock each morning from the Crown Inn which stood in Church Street. Here we see it about to turn into St James Street on the return leg. It is travelling on what was the new road built to bypass the tortuous route through the Friars. It was open for use in 1804 and in 1809 most of it was named as London Road. On the left is the precinct wall of St James workhouse designed in the 1680s by local architect Henry Bell. The Greyfriars Tower is the focal point of the painting. It was formerly part of the Friary Church and survives because it was useful as a seamark. The buildings to the left of the coach stood on the site of the library.

This painting was purchased for the Museum in 2001 with a generous grant from the Friends of Kings Lynn Museums, a group of people interested in all aspects of the work of Lynn Museum and the part it plays in the cultural life of the town. Membership is open to all, please contact the museum for details.