King’s Lynn Festival hears from Dr Paul

KL Festival 65th logo ANL-150227-143552001
KL Festival 65th logo ANL-150227-143552001

Dr Paul Richards – Discovering Lynn’s Hanseatic World

Dr Richards began this talk in Lynn’s Custom House with a scale model of a Hanseatic container ship and defined what Hanse was – not a guild but a union of German towns with the power of a nation state: groups of merchants combining for mutual protection.

The Hanse was granted liberties in Lynn in 1271. This German Hanse regarded itself as the heart of the world, looking east and west. There was no Atlantic trade. Britain was prized for its wool.

A short walk in convoy along historic Queen Street to Clifton House followed. Thence to the glorious interior of Lynn Minster.

We learned how communal medieval religion was – spiritual individualism and Margery Kempe’s ability to get more than her fair share of the annual communion was frowned on. The Minster’s immensely valuable Flemish brasses are both exquisite pieces of art and indicators of the great wealth of their patrons. The medieval chest is one of a few surviving, mostly in the South and East.

Final stop was the medieval Hanse House, the last surviving Hanseatic building in England.

German merchants lived here and then leased the building to English merchants for centuries after Lynn’s Hanseatic heyday.

The talk concluded in an expensively refurbished room where, like much of Lynn, a medieval building is the basis for a Regency face-lift.

Paul’s affable talk was a cascade of informed accessible scholarship. There was even a coloured map from a German schoolbook to take away.

Gareth Calway