From Jacobean Mayoral House, to 21st century Heritage Home…
Through many families, the Greenland Fishery House has seen lives of Jacobean wealth, 18th century sailors, survived World Wars, the brink of demolition – yet is standing strong as ever after 400 years…
The ‘Rennaissance House’ – Built in 1605 by John Atkin, merchant and twice Mayor of King’s Lynn, he bequeathed The House to his wife Joan in 1616, she passed it to her son Seth…
The building seems to have been divided in two at an early stage, the southern portion became a public house; ‘The Fisherman’s Arms’ which became the headquarters of the Greenland whale fishing industry, which was of major importance to the town until the arrival of gas lighting in the 19C.
Great storm blows the spire off KL Minster, St Nicholas Chapel, and probably did for the top floor of The Greenland Fishery
In 1898 the ‘Greenland Fishery Beerhouse’ was reported by the Medical Officer of Health to be unfit for human occupation.
In 1911 the Borough Surveyor served notice on the owners of the properties to secure or demolish. It was offered to the council for £50 and initially was accepted until it was realised it would cost £300 to repair.
Between 1911 and 1912 the entire buildings, including a cottage on the corner and a bakehouse at the rear, was purchased by Mr E.M Beloe a local solicitor and historian and turned into a museum. It was opened on June 6th 1912 by the Earl of Oxford, and housed an extensive collection of items bought together by him and his father. Downstairs housed a bakers shop run by a Mr Lewis, baking his wares in the basement kitchen. Visitors had to enter the museum through the shop and Mrs Lewis who was the museum caretaker would encourage them to try Mr Lewis’s “ship’s” biscuits.
After Beloe’s death, the GF is sold jointly to King’s Lynn Borough Council and the Norfolk Archeological Trust
A World War Two bomb, dropped from a German bomber, explodes at back of The Greenland Fishery. Beloe’s collections are removed to King’s Lynn Town Museum
The Building continued to deteriorate, but only first-aid repairs were carried out, (although whilst empty it was listed as an Ancient Monument). At the end of the war negotiations were carried out between the interested parties, as a result of which the building was restored. The southern part, as a house, and the northern as an office.
In 1951 The Greenland Fishery received its first tenants: the Borough Housing Manager Miss M Keith and Miss D Bullock, the recently appointed Head Teacher of Gaywood Park Girls School. They cared for it well, made few demands of it, and considerably enhanced it by making an unusual and attractive garden at the back.
In 1997 the entire property was transferred from the Norwich Archaeological Trust to the King’s Lynn Preservation Trust. It is now a listed Grade II*
Ms Bullock moves out
The Greenland Fishery in the 21st Century is once again, the focus of King’s Lynn’s Whaling Industry. This time, we’re making whales not killing them. And the House plays a significant role in the town’s Heritage attractions.