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Shakespeare connected King's Lynn St George's Guildhall update from West Norfolk Council

Michael Baldwin, deputy chair of the King’s Lynn Town Deal Board, writes this month's column

The Lynn St George’s Guildhall and Creative Hub project is a pivotal part of the £25m Town Fund programme, which will transform the town centre with a number of innovative schemes aimed at growing business, increasing skills and regenerating historical features.

The Grade 1 listed St George’s Guildhall is Britain’s oldest working theatre, with performances since 1445.

A guided walk and tour will take in the oldest working theatre in the UK, St George's Guildhall.
A guided walk and tour will take in the oldest working theatre in the UK, St George's Guildhall.

Recent academic research supports local tradition that Shakespeare performed at the Guildhall in 1593 and Shakespeare’s comedian Robert Armin was born in King’s Lynn.

Our vision for this jewel in Lynn’s heritage crown, has been formed following extensive consultation with the public, specialists, and users.

Highly-regarded experts in the industry Foster Wilson Size, FEI UK and Mott Macdonald, have together developed the designs and the business case.

Michael Baldwin.
Michael Baldwin.

The proposals incorporate a day-time immersive visitor experience that promotes this Shakespearean connection, taking visitors through theatrical history in the only still-working theatre where it all took place.

The business case requesting just over £8m of government funding, for the £12m project, has been signed off by West Norfolk Council (the accountable body) and the King’s Lynn Town Deal Board and submitted to Government.

The next step is the establishment of a Charitable Incorporated Organisation to run the centre.

Guildhall of St George in Lynn. (58502332)
Guildhall of St George in Lynn. (58502332)

With input from the Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk’s Regeneration and Development Task Group, we approached three individuals to become the Founding Trustees.

They are:

• Dr Robert Anderson FSA, FRSE, FRSC. Former Director of the Science Museum, London, the National Museums of Scotland, the British Museum, London, and president and CEO of the Chemical Heritage Foundation (now the Science History Institute) in Philadelphia.

• Peter Wilson CBE. Executive Chairman and Joint Chief Executive of PW Productions and former Head of Norwich Theatres (including the Theatre Royal and Norwich Playhouse). PW Productions has been a strong independent production house for theatre since Peter established its first West End production in 1985.

• Nick Dodds, Chair of FEI. Nick brings with him extensive business experience and knowledge that will prove invaluable in establishing the CIO.

An audience in the St George's Guildhall in King's Lynn.
An audience in the St George's Guildhall in King's Lynn.

We are delighted to have secured founding members who have experience in the development of visitor venues; theatre space; and cultural enterprises.

Experience they will be able to draw on throughout the application process of establishing a CIO.

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