As someone, somewhere, had decided to award us a week of summer weather we decided we'd better make use of it before it disappears so we arranged to go to King's Lynn for four days.
So, on a hot sunny Wednesday, we set off for a 93 mile journey north to north-west Norfolk which took just over two hours and took us through Braintree, Sudbury, Bury St. Edmunds, Thetford, Mundford and Oxburgh. One wouldn't normally go through Oxburgh on the way from Mundford to King's Lynn but we chose the few miles detour because we wanted to see Oxburgh Hall. Built around 1482 Oxburgh Hall is a moated manor which was always intended as a family home and not a fortress as the crenellations are symbolic fortifications rather than actual.
The main entrance and gatehouse is on the opposite side of the view shown above and the house is arranged around a large open quadrangle where the next picture was taken showing the large impressive gatehouse.
The eyesore deckchairs have been provided by the National Trust who must have been desparate for visitors to notice them.
It is possible to go up onto the roof of the gatehouse if you don't mind the climb up the spiral stairway.
The rooms, as one might expect, are pretty impressive as this view of the West Drawing Room shows although one needs to ignore the strange lady at the far end.
The Library is equally impressive.
The Queen's Room is, as you'd expect, quite large.
But off to the left, out of the picture, is another small side chamber and in the floor of this chamber is a small trapdoor which, when closed, blends in with the tiled floor. However, when opened, this trapdoor gives access to the Priest Hole. Because of the Catholic faith of the Bedingfeld family, a Catholic priest may have had to hide within the small disguised room in the event of a raid.
The entrance is just large enough for a person to slip through and this is all that there is inside. I am sitting on one of two benches with the other showing to my left and the brick slope on the far side of the floor is the only way in and out. Calling it a room, even a small room, is stretching the imagination somewhat. Getting in, and out, is not easy and it reminded me of my caving days. When I came out Amanda went in. We both survived.
If the King's men (soldiers) turned up unannounced then any visiting priest would have had to get in here quickly and possibly stay there for a few days. There is no toilet and no light so don't even think about it but it was better than being dead.
On a lighter note there is a very impressive flower border in the grounds.
It was an interesting and enjoyable visit but now we must go onward to King's Lynn. We arrived in King's Lynn at our B&B at around mid-afternoon and settled in then decided to have an initial short exploration leaving tomorrow, Thursday, as our main exploration day for the town.
A short way from our B&B was a public park called The Walks and we knew that within the park was the 15th century Red Mount Chapel. It is unique and no other building like it can be found. It was built to contain a relic of the Virgin Mary but was also used by pilgrims on their way to Walsingham.
Built on instructions from the prior of Lynn the inner core is divided into 3 storeys and there is an additional cross-shaped ashlar building in Ancaster stone on top.
A strange place indeed which Pevsner described as one of the strangest Gothic churches in England.
Moving towards the river to the west end of The Walks we crossed the road into another small park known as Tower Gardens. In this park is the Greyfriars Tower which is all that is left of a Franciscan Monastery. Take no notice of the strange woman at the base of the tower she seems, somehow, to get into a lot of my photographs.
Henry VIII had all such monasteries demolished but the tower at Lynn was left untouched because it was considered to be a useful seamark by sailors entering the town and is still clearly visible on the town's skyline to this day.
You can see from this model just where the tower fitted in.
We moved further towards the river looking for the Tourist Information Centre so that we could get a free street plan of the town. We knew that it was located in the Customs House and eventually we spotted it.
Situated on the edge of Pur Fleet this building started life in 1683 as a merchant exchange but was bought by the Crown in 1717 for £800 and occupied by HM Customs and Excise until their move to a central office at Ipswich in 1989. It is now occupied by the local TIC. Pur Fleet runs into the River Great Ouse just behind the camera.
We'd had enough by this stage so having collected our free street plan of the town we headed back to our B&B. We'll be back in this area tomorrow.