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Heritage Open Day was a brilliant showcase of King’s Lynn

In his weekly column, MP James Wild chats about his day out for Heritage Open Day...

Descending the steps beneath the Tuesday Market Place and the line-up of classic cars was a special part of the Heritage Open Day on Sunday which was a brilliant showcase of the historic buildings, gardens, churches, towers, cellars, and of course, tunnels in Lynn.

The air raid shelter tunnels offered some relief from the intense sun although they were narrower than I expected. The Bridge for Heroes guides and cadets recreated what it may have been like to be underneath during a bombing raid. It was sobering to think that in Western Europe people in Ukraine continue to have to use such underground shelters in the face of Russia’s illegal bombing of innocent civilians and towns.

Over the summer I enjoyed a trip to Norway including to Bergen, one of the fellow Hanseatic trading ports. Many of the fine buildings in Lynn – and there are more grade 1 listed buildings than York – are merchant’s houses that were built with the wealth of the town’s trading success. One of the most informative visits I made on Sunday was to the Conservancy Board with pilots explaining the challenges of guiding ships into the port, as well as issues with inter-connectors and offshore wind cabling.

St George’s Guildhall was a popular venue with visitors possibly tempted by the coolness provided by the immensely thick walls of the theatre. As well as seeing this historic venue and learning about the exciting Town Deal project to restore the theatre and develop a creative and cultural hub, visitors could also experience the new Heads & Tails art exhibition of East Anglian artists exploring the bond between people and animals taking place in the Fermoy Gallery and Shakespeare’s Barn. It runs until the end of October on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays and is free entry.

During Heritage Day I also visited the Groundwork Gallery and its ‘Ground beneath our feet’ environmental art exhibition which has been extended to run until December.

The success of the heritage event owes much to being able to go into buildings which are not usually open to the public. However, some, including Red Mount Chapel where I joined a queue of families excited to see inside, have been open at other times this year. Hopefully they can be opened more regularly in future.

Many thanks are owed to the King’s Lynn Civic Society and all those involved in organising the event, opening their properties, and the many volunteers who made it all possible. We are fortunate to have such impressive heritage and culture and it was great to talk to so many local people and visitors who were enjoying the day. Despite marking up my map and setting off early there wasn’t time to do everything and I look forward to next year’s event.

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