House built in the early C17 and enlarged and modernised in the late C18 or C19.
Reasons for Designation
St Ann’s House, built in the early C17, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* it is a good example of a late C17 townhouse that was remodelled in the late C18 or early C19, thus providing important evidence of building practices and the evolving style of interior design over this period;
* it retains numerous fixtures and fittings of an early date, including five rooms with finely crafted, elaborately detailed Jacobean panelling, demonstrating joinery of considerable distinction.
* it forms a significant element in an area of King’s Lynn that is characterised by a rich architectural legacy.
* it is surrounded by many listed buildings, notably the Grade I-listed Chapel of St Nicholas opposite, and therefore has strong group value with numerous designated assets.
King’s Lynn, first called Bishop’s Lynn, was founded in 1095 by Bishop Herbert de Losinga, who in the previous year had transferred the see from Thetford to Norwich. There was already an existing settlement which appears to have been based around a salt-water lagoon, or series of inlets, with its centre round the present All Saints Church. Losinga’s town developed to the north of this, between All Saints Church and Saturday Market Place where St Margaret’s Church and Priory were established from Norwich around 1100. Rapid expansion from the C12 onwards required an extension of the town, and Bishop William Turbe laid out a new settlement north of the Purfleet from around 1145, with its market at Tuesday Market Place and the Chapel of St Nicholas as a chapel of ease to St Margaret’s. Both settlements were united under a royal charter in 1204, the united town being named Bishop’s Lynn. Until the early C13, the Great Ouse emptied via the Wellstream at Wisbech, however following floods in the C13, the river was redirected to join the Wash at Bishop’s Lynn. The town became one of England’s busiest ports, serving the Ouse and its tributaries, exporting wool and cloth, and importing wine, timber and luxury goods, being adopted as a member of the original medieval Hanseatic League. This extremely influential trading association linked a group of towns around the Baltic and the North Seas, and played an important role in the prosperity and development of Bishop’s Lynn as a national port, which by the C14, was ranked as the third port of England (after London and Southampton).
Losinga’s town round the Saturday Market was protected from the river immediately to its west by the ‘great bank’, an earthwork which ran along the present line of Nelson Street, St Margaret’s Place and Queen Street. By about 1500 the river had moved approximately 50m west and was consolidated another 45m by the new South Quay in 1855. The period of development of the area between the Millfleet and Purfleet can therefore be identified, as well as building types and plans. The generous-sized plots are reflected in the surviving buildings dating from the C14 to the C17, which surround open courtyards. To the north, on Bishop Turbe’s ‘newe lande’, much the same pattern emerges: originally the west side of Tuesday Market Place was washed by the river, with King Street forming the line of the bank. The west side of King Street was built upon in the C13, with narrow plots, elongating in stages until river movement ceased in the C17. As land became available, warehouses were built straight onto the river front. When Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in 1536-1537, the town and manor became royal property, and Bishop’s Lynn was renamed King’s Lynn or Lynn Regis.
Lynn’s prosperity as a national port was based entirely on trade, and the merchant class dominated the social and economic life of the town until the C19. When the Fens began to be drained in the mid-C17 and land turned to agricultural use, King’s Lynn grew prosperous from the export of corn: cereal export dominated from the C16, and especially in the C18. Coal and wine continued to be imported for distribution inland, and until the railway age, Lynn was the chief East Anglian port for both. Prosperity continued until continental trade was disturbed by the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815), followed by a brief revival. The economy and population dwindled following the relatively late arrival of railway services to King’s Lynn in 1847, compounded by the irrevocable decline of coastal trading.
St Ann’s House was built in the early C17 with an east-facing front range and two cross wings, although there is some speculation that the brickwork on the north wall of the north wing may belong to an earlier phase of the house. In the late C18 or early C19 it was enlarged and modernised. A new Classical façade was added and the main range was widened on the west (rear) side to include a corridor running along the rooms. The rooms were also widened and a stair turret was added on the west side. The north wing was extended by one bay, and a single-storey outbuilding adjoining the south wing was built up to three storeys. The south wall of the north wing was also re-faced at this time. Internally, a through passage was created from the porch to the stair projection.
A map of 1830 shows that Frederick Lane was then in possession of the whole property which included a range of outbuildings adjoining the north side of the north wing, and a formal garden at the rear with an outbuilding (probably the now derelict orangery) in the north-west corner which then overlooked the river. After this, St Ann’s House appears to have declined in importance and was subdivided: the 1841 Census records that Frederick Lane, Town Clerk, lived in the larger northern half, and Lionel Self, Merchant, lived in the southern half. The house was subdivided immediately south of the projecting entrance where a window had been converted to a door leading into a small entrance hall with a fanlight over a door at the far end and stairs beyond this to the left. It is likely that there had been two rooms south of the entrance porch which were reordered to create this small entrance hall and larger room to the south. A large mullioned and transomed window was inserted on the right side of the entrance porch. The subdivision is depicted on the Ordnance Survey (OS) map of 1887 which also shows that the outbuildings adjoining the north side of the north wing extended eastwards beyond the façade to the edge of St Ann’s Street. No changes are shown on the OS maps of 1905 and 1928 but by 1925 the house had been subdivided into three dwellings. The door on the north side of the north wing probably provided access to the third dwelling.
St Ann’s House was converted back into a single dwelling in the early 1990s. The door on the left side of the entrance porch was replaced with a window, and the outbuildings adjoining the north wing were taken down. Internal partitions were removed and it is possible that the principal stair was installed during this period. The house is now (2017) let out as offices.
House built in the early C17 and enlarged and modernised in the late C18 or C19.
MATERIALS: red brick laid in various bonds with a rendered and colourwashed façade and slate-clad roofs.
PLAN: the building faces east onto St Ann’s Street, set back behind a forecourt. It has an approximately E-shaped plan consisting of a main east range with a long north cross wing and a shorter south wing with a staircase projection in between.
EXTERIOR: the rendered east façade is in the Classical style. It has three storeys divided into nine bays, the central bay breaking forward and elaborated into a porch tower, the corners of which are rusticated, as are those of the façade. In the porch tower the C20 six-panel door is set within a pedimented doorcase with a Doric frieze and flanking pilasters on bases. The first floor is lit by a Venetian window, and above there is a tripartite sash. The remaining fenestration consists mainly of six-over-six pane sash windows with slender glazing bars set within plain surrounds. The ground-floor window to the left of the porch tower dates to the late C20 when it replaced a door. The last two bays on the ground floor are lit by a six-light mullioned and transomed casement with leaded lights and some stained glass. The three-over-three pane sashes on the second-floor are false windows as they are part of the parapet with a modillion eaves cornice which hides the slope of the roof with dormers behind. The rendered left return is blind. The right return is of exposed brick laid in Flemish garden wall bond. It has two small windows in the gable head, either side of the rendered chimney stack, and on the right hand side on the ground floor a large window with leaded lights and stained glass has been inserted in a concrete surround.
Following this is the north wall of the long two-storey north wing, along which is a plain tiled offset to the first floor. Roughly central to the wing is a large rebuilt chimney stack rising through the north slope, flanked by hipped dormers wholly within the roof space. The brickwork appears to be of several phases and shows signs of much repair and patching using peg tiles and limestone. At first-floor level towards the right are the remains of two brick arches to windows, now blocked. The irregular fenestration is not original and neither are the three doors. A change in the brickwork in the end bay indicates that it was added in the late C18 or early C19 when the house was modernised. The west gable end has an off-centre chimney projection at first-floor level, although the stack has been removed and a dormer window inserted in the roof. The brickwork also shows signs of much repair, and on the left-hand side retains the scar of a former lean-to projection where a door has later been inserted. Above is a sash window under a rebuilt gauged brick arch. The south elevation of the north wing, refaced in the late C18 or early C19, has some blocked and altered openings. The irregular fenestration consists mostly of sash windows of varying sizes under gauged brick arches, some rebuilt, with two large sashes in the last two bays that are almost full-height.
At right angles to this is the west (rear) elevation of the main range which has an off-centre staircase projection with tumbled in brickwork along the gable verges. It is lit on the west side by a round-arched sash window, and has a later single-storey brick extension under a pitched roof extending westwards. To the left of the staircase projection is a window and a double-leaf door with lower fielded panels and upper glazed panels within a pedimented doorcase. The two sash windows above have gauged brick arches. To the right of the staircase projection is a narrower bay with a blocked arched opening and two small windows above.
Following this, the three-storey north elevation of the south wing has one window on the left hand side of the ground floor, and the remains of two blocked openings with pointed brick arches. The brickwork on the west gable end shows different phasing between the ground floor and the upper floors. It has a central projecting external chimney flanked by six-over-six pane sash windows under gauged brick arches at first-floor level, with a small window above on the left hand side. To the left of the chimney on the ground floor is a round-arched recess with a C20 door, and to the right another C20 door. The south elevation of the south wing is rendered and has irregular fenestration. Adjoining the end of the south wing are the remains of former outbuildings, now roofless.
INTERIOR: the main east range retains many historic fixtures and fittings including panelled window shutters, deeply recessed doorcases with panelled soffits and jambs, and dentilled cornices enriched with egg-and-dart. The principal staircase has been replaced but a subsidiary staircase survives in the south end of the house, probably dating to the late C18/ early C19 remodelling, which has stick balusters supporting scrolled handrails. It was not possible to inspect the south room but this is said to retain a marble fireplace, an ornate cornice, and ‘barley sugar’ internal window hoods. The north room on the first floor has built-in panelled cupboards with cockshead hinges.
The principal areas of interest are the five rooms in the east range with Jacobean panelling. It is probable that the panelling was not original to the house as the rooms were widened in the late C18/ early C19 but as panelling was regarded as movable furniture it was not unusual for it to be reinstated from elsewhere. In the northern-most room the square panelling is divided by reeded pilaster strips with egg-and-dart enriched capitals and square panels filled with strapwork above. The elaborately detailed chimneypiece is flanked by reeded pilaster strips and has an overmantel with two round-arched panels divided by reeded columns on vase-like plinths, and an arcaded frieze. The ceiling has raised plasterwork in a geometric design with pendants at the intersections of the ribs and floral detailing at their termination. The soffits of the beams are decorated with strapwork and the frieze with a foliate pattern. The plasterwork is relatively crisp and the ceiling may not therefore date to the Jacobean period. The adjoining room to the south has simpler panelling, and the mantelpiece is a less elaborate replica version of that in the north room, although it has a cast iron fireback of 1680.
On the first floor of the east range, the room to the right of the porch tower has very ornate panelling divided by square pilasters with Ionic capitals and plinths decorated with an arch resting on double columns. The dentilled frieze is divided into panels by scrolled brackets. The elaborate chimneypiece has a lugged marble fireplace flanked by pairs of columns resting on plinths decorated with an arch resting on double columns. These support the overmantel which is decorated with panels of strapwork and square-within-a-square design. The room to the left of the porch tower has been subdivided with a partition wall but retains the square panelling embellished with reeded pilasters surmounted by composite capitals. It was not possible to inspect the adjoining room which occupies the south end of the building but this also has Jacobean panelling, although it is not fitted together properly.
In the north wing, the west room on the ground floor has modern replica panelling but it was formerly the kitchen and retains the large projection where the range was situated and a ceiling beam with a large hook. In the north-west corner of the room there is a curious oriel window containing coats of arms in stained glass, over which is a four-centred arch oak lintel with carved spandrels, of possible Tudor date. On the first floor there are three C19 fireplaces: one has a hobgrate, another has a surround with corner blocks bearing a mask, and another has turquoise Art Nouveau tiles.
SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: the red brick boundary walls survive, enclosing the rear garden on the north and south sides. On the inner face of the south wall are five large four-centred arches, bricked up. It has been suggested that these resemble the arcaded faces of the basement walls of the C16/ C17 warehouses along King Street, and may once have formed part of such a structure.