Cultural assets housed at Lynn Town Hall are being packed away as a £2.7 million project to bring history to life prepares to get under way.
Around 250 items from the town’s treasure trove of archives and collections are being temporarily transferred to the Norfolk Record Office ready for work on a new multi-media and purpose-built archive space to begin.
Objects include the 14th-century Red Register, one of the earliest paper records in England, the King John Charter, silverware and paintings.
Ceremonial items housed at the town hall, such as the Queen Anne silver maces and King John Sword, will be retained in the borough and continue to be used at civic functions, including Mayor-making in May.
The King John Cup, sword and a facsimilie of the King John Charter will also be kept in West Norfolk and will be exhibited as part of celebrations marking the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta in June.
Staff at the town hall will begin to carefully pack away the collections today.
Then, following cleaning and any necessary conservation, they will return to Lynn ready for the opening of the new Stories of Lynn multi-media exhibition and archive/collection space, which is expected to open at Easter next year.
The enhancement project is being led by West Norfolk Council, which owns the town hall, in partnership with the Norfolk Record Office and Norfolk Museum Service and has been made possible thanks to a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £1,850,600 and £800,000 from the council.
Councillor Elizabeth Nockolds, the council’s cabinet member for culture, tourism and marketing, said: “Today is a very exciting day for us, as it marks the moment where all our planning is beginning to be turned into reality.
“Medieval Lynn was a port of national importance with a thriving economy and active political life. The legacy of these times is evident in our extensive archive and the very fabric of the magnificent buildings which make up the town hall complex.
“Stories of Lynn will enable this history to be brought to life, giving people greater access both to the buildings and archive, and, through the multi-media exhibitions and programme of activities, new ways to explore our history.”
Leader of the council, Nick Daubney, added: “We are extremely privileged to have an archive, collections and heritage buildings of such importance. The work that we are about to embark upon will make the most of these cultural assets, foregrounding our rich heritage for residents and visitors to enjoy.”
Robyn Llewellyn, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “Like a treasure trove of family heirlooms, these remarkable collections will be carefully packed away...but not for long!
“When they return they’ll be part of a multi-million pound project that puts the Stories of Lynn back at the heart of the town.”
The first phase of work on the enhancement project will focus upon the creation of the new archive document store, collections resource area, refurbishment of the existing exhibition spaces and the construction of a new lift and stair extension to the rear of the complex.
n A TV programme aired last week showed a side of ‘bad’ King John that has remained buried with him for eight centuries.
The Last Journey of the Magna Carta King aired on BBC1 last Friday – and told a completely different tale to the version passed down in popular history.
The show followed the monarch’s epic last journey across the treacherous marshes of East Anglia to establish whether the crown jewels ended up in the mud of the Wash.
For 800 years, King John’s treasure hoard was thought to have been ‘lost’ in the Fens during his journey from Lynn to Lincoln in 1216.
But in the 30-minute documentary, aerial archaelologist Dr Ben Robinson investigated the centuries-old version of events and provided new clues about the mysterious disappearance of the king’s treasure using laser technology and LIDAR survey images.