Travelling south from Caley Hall along the A149 for around 15 miles you will come to the historic and often overlooked town of King’s Lynn. Originally known as Bishops Lynn, during the reign of Henry VIII it surrendered to the crown and became known as King’s Lynn.
During the 14th century King’s Lynn was ranked amongst the most important ports in England, and to this day houses the only 2 remaining hanseatic league buildings in England.
Today King’s Lynn is a bustling town of about 42,000 residents who go about their daily business through the town. Perhaps we could take a walk through the cobbled streets of the old town, past the historic church of St Margarets. We could stop for a coffee at the Bank House, situated on the banks of the River Ouse, the site wherein the 1780’s Joseph Gurney set up his first bank, a bank which would later, due to mergers and acquisitions, become Barclays Bank.
While strolling through the town, we could walk along King’s street with all its late 17th-century architecture, and then we would find ourselves walking onto the expanse of the Tuesday market place. Today this is an area of town which has a western European feel about it with eateries offering alfresco style dining. An impressive square which still holds a market every Tuesday and hosts town events including Festival Too in the summer, which is Europe’s largest free festival. In the cold months of February, the market place also hosts the Mart which is a funfair for the whole family to enjoy.
The north side of the square, specifically the buildings numbered 15 and 16, house a permanent reminder of another purpose of the square. The Tuesday Market place, in the past, was a site of public executions.
Even before the witchfinder general Matthew Hopkins began his purges of witches in the East of England, people were accused of witchcraft. There is a legend that a lady named Margaret Reed in 1590 was accused and found guilty of witchcraft in King’s Lynn. Her punishment for this crime? Burning at the stake in King’s Lynn’s Tuesday market place. The story goes that as she was being consumed by the flames, her heart burst from her body and struck the wall on those buildings numbered 15 and 16 on the square. The still beating heart then fell to the ground and rolled into the River Ouse where the water bubbled and frothed until the heart finally sunk to the bottom. The building where the heart struck was scarred, carved into the red brick is a diamond shape and within that is a heart shape, the heart of Margaret Reed.