Here you will find information helpful for your visit in addition to the resources in the Chapel. There are information boards and audio-visual presentations, as well as some children’s puzzles.
This is offered as a walk around the Chapel, to help you spot the best things to see. A couple of points before you start your tour –
Firstly – why is St Nicholas’ referred to as a ‘Chapel’, despite its size and obvious importance as a place of worship? This is because St Nicholas’ is subject to the Parish Church at St Margaret’s Priory (in Saturday Market Place), and had the same legal status as a side chapel in that building.
And how old is St Nicholas’? The tower is c.1225 although everything else was rebuilt in the period 1380-1410, and as such the building is very early Perpendicular architecture. St Nicholas’ is now one of some 350 English redundant churches in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust.
Lectern (Bible stand)
1. The West Entrance
West Doors: over 600 years old and found to have been originally painted red and green. On the inside behind the doors are carvings of ugly devils trying to get in, and above is the huge plain Perpendicular-style west window in 11 ‘lights’.
The Roof: a very early “Angel roof” where 22 angels fly on hammer beams above each of the top windows; 40% are holding musical instruments, and the remainder hold religious symbols. A heavenly host, looking after us on Earth, and constructed from oak. You can find out more about the Angels at https://www.stnicholaskingslynn.org.uk/assets/agp.2015-the-angel-roof-of-st-nicholas-chapel.docx . There are also excellent pictures in Gallery.
Consistory Court (to your left): a rare survival as refitted in 1617. Started in Protestant Lynn by the 1560s to deal with the moral failings of the clergy and parishioners’ (even before the Puritan period). The Vestry (a forerunner of Parish Councils) later met here.
The Font: dating from 1627, prior to which every baptism had to be conducted at St Margaret’s Church; re-carved in 1902.
Robinson Cruso ledger stones: beside the font (and up the centre aisle) are a series of floor slabs with this name for both children and adults. Cruso was a local name but these people died long after the castaway’s story had been published in 1719. Only the Cathedral of Bath Abbey has more ‘ledger stones’ than St Nicholas’ Chapel.
2. Now walk up the centre Aisle
Sword Rest: on a pillar a Sword rest can be seen dated 1743-60. It was made to hold the town’s ‘King John Sword’ when the Mayor came to official services. MTS means Mayor Thomas Somersby, who was mayor in these 2 years. Similar rests can be seen in St Margaret’s and All Saints churches.
3. Go Left to the Lectern, and then towards the altar
Lectern, or Bible stand: made of brass before 1500, one of only 45 of that age, most of which are in Eastern England. See if you can spot St Mark’s lions, and where “Peter’s pence” donations were made into the eagle?
White Marble Urn: designed by architect Robert Adam as a memorial to Sir Benjamin Keene who died in 1757 in Madrid. A Lynn man who had been the British Consul and Ambassador to Portugal and Spain. You can see the carved Lisbon quayside scene and badge of the Order of the Bath.
At the High Altar: is the only area of painted roof, and two angels without wings, who are assisting at the Mass service below and holding a book and a pax. In this area, the old pews (‘desks’) are the last of the original medieval woodwork – on the fronts are mythical beasts such as a yale, a gryphon, and their version of a lion. In the tall ‘poppyheads’ look for a monkey on a cow, a hermit in a shell, and the Virgin Mary on a crescent.
Wall Monuments: on the walls here are a series of 17th century merchants’ monuments. Imagine how important the Snelling, Clarck and Greene families felt they were, with their children lined up, but the next one is an elegant tablet of 1784 showing just a weeping willow tree.
4. Finally, depart by the South Porch doors
(Next to the tower base) View the ceiling of the porch – a painted lierne vault, with God (wearing a papal crown!) surrounded by angels, princes, demons and dragons. The thick doors are exquisitely decorated, and take time to view the real characters on the stone heads in the porch. Outside is a stunning array of carving. If you would like more in-depth information about this area go to Documents/graffiti and south porch.
Donations: The donation box is by the reception desk. Donations go towards helping to maintain and repair historic and magnificent old building in the care of the CCT.
Please assist by donating whatever you can afford. Every donation, however small is gratefully received. We hope your visit has been inspiring.