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Customs House including north bank of Purfleet Quay

A Grade I Listed Building in King's Lynn, Norfolk

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Latitude: 52.7537 / 52°45'13"N

Longitude: 0.3931 / 0°23'35"E

OS Eastings: 561603

OS Northings: 320033

OS Grid: TF616200

Mapcode National: GBR N3Q.B6C

Mapcode Global: WHJP7.01GQ

Entry Name: Customs House including north bank of Purfleet Quay

Listing Date: 7 June 1972

Last Amended: 1 May 2018

Grade: I

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1195414

English Heritage Legacy ID: 384240

Location: King's Lynn and West Norfolk, Norfolk, PE30

County: Norfolk

Electoral Ward/Division: St Margarets with St Nicholas

Built-Up Area: King's Lynn

Traditional County: Norfolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Norfolk

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Kings Lynn

Listing Text


610-1/7/173 Custom House including north bank of
07/06/72 Purfleet Quay
(Formerly Listed as:
(West side)
Custom House)


Custom House. 1683 by Henry Bell. Built for Sir John Turner MP
as a merchants' exchange. First floor let to the Collector of
Customs, entire building bought by Customs 1718 and used as
customs house until 1989. Alterations either in 1718 or 1741
during repairs following gale damage: ground floor was
partitioned and the present staircase probably inserted 1718,
panelling and decoration of upper floors probably 1741.
Stone with plaintile roof below lead flat.
Designed to 4:5 proportions. 5 bays to north and south
elevations, 4 to east and west, originally in form of open
arcade, the first floor supported on 4 Roman Doric entactic
columns on tall polygonal plinths. Bell's engraving of the
building seems to show the west arcade closed shortly after
construction, or never open.
Elevations are broadly similar. Arcade bays separated by Roman
Doric pilasters supporting a plain Doric entablature below the
first-floor 2-light cross casements with leaded glazing.
Corner bays have 2 blind recessed panels to ground floor,
vertically placed, and a single-light transomed casement to
the first floor. Arcades have keystones in form of nautical
First-floor windows separated by Ionic pilasters. Acanthus
modillion eaves cornice below hipped roof with flat.
North and south roof slopes with 2 pedimented dormers
separated by a segmental-headed dormer, east and west slopes
with only 2 pedimented dormers, all with 2-light casements.
Cornice balustrade removed 1741. Timber lantern of Greek cross
plan composed of 4 arches each carrying a pediment. All of the
internal and external angles of the continuous entablature
below these pediments have a Corinthian leaf. Above is an
hexagonal lantern with an ogee cap which replaces the obelisk
and statue of Fame blown down in 1741. The lead flat has a
heavy turned balustrade with square corner piers. The eastern
2 piers disguised chimney flues. Variations between
North front has a broken-forward central bay with a heavy
panelled door. Entablature above with a cartouche and
inscription: Mercaturx Reicp Nauticx Hoc posuit Johannes
Turner Anno dom CDDCLXXXIII Arm (sic). Above is a niche with a
statue of Charles II on a fluted semi-circular pedestal
flanked by a pair of Corinthian pilasters (sculptor unknown).
Shallow pediment over this bay. East side arcades are simply
filled in. South side arcades also filled in except the centre
bay which has a door beneath a fanlight. West arcade bays
filled with iron windows with a top-hung casement to centres:
glazed with small panes. 1718.
INTERIOR. Barrel-vaulted cellars. Ground floor originally open
with 4 bridging beams running north-south and one running
east-west at the junctions of which were 4 columns described
above. The western 2 columns survive, one encased in the C18
partitioning. The others were removed (the central one would
have blocked an intended doorway, the other, to the east,
would pierce the staircase). The partitioning is partly
masonry and sufficiently substantial to support the upper
Closed string staircase with bolection panelling, turned
balusters and a heavy handrail supported on square newels.
Numerous minor choppings and compromises were required to
insert staircase. Of original stairs nothing is known.
First floor west room (the Long Room) originally 2 rooms.
Large-framed panelling probably 1741. On east wall are 2 fire
surrounds with bolection mouldings. North-east room with
smaller-framed fielded panelling which may be 1718. Roof
structure of principals with butt purlins. Cupola supported on
4 cross-braced trusses.
PURFLEET QUAY. Probably a loading point of the Purfleet from
C13. Lime and stone quay existed in 1547. Present brick
structure with limestone dressings is result of continuous
repair and rebuilding, the earliest identifiable elements
being C17. Included portion begins at south-east corner of
Custom House and runs 60 metres west along north bank of Fleet
only. English bond brickwork. Stone steps laid into ashlar
well drop from quay to bed of fleet. Top of quay with granite
This was the first classical building in King's Lynn, owing to
precursor of the London Royal Exchange of 1670-1 by Edward
Jerman and to Pieter Post's Stadhuis, Maastricht, Holland.

Listing NGR: TF6162720042

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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