A glorious sun-drenched day in Lynn, on the Hanseatic waterfront, previewed in my EDP Weekend feature (not available online so copied below.) The concerts ended with these two acts: Eplemoya, who sang with Nordic fire and ice, and the Mediaveal Baebes, from England, whom I reviewed in Monday's EDP (also not available online so copied below) and in The Lynn News 23 May. View review here Above - rock pics by the fabulous Al Pufford.
Link to Lynn News online at end of post.
Feature in EDP Weekend 17 May
King’s Lynn celebrates its Hanseatic heritage this weekend in sumptuous style. Attractions include mediaeval markets; guided Hanseatic walks; arts and crafts stalls; street entertainment including fire breathers and minstrels; children’s activities; fireworks; music from the Paabel and Hermitage ensemble and, from 8 pm Saturday, the bewitching choral music ensemble Mediaeval Baebes.
Hanse Day has been celebrated annually in King’s Lynn since 2009 when the Borough Council organised the town’s first ever Hanse Festival. Amid mediaeval merriment and quayside sea shanties, the majestic Lisa von Lubeck, a 15th Century caravel reconstruction, cruised up the River Great Ouse from its port in Lubeck, Germany, to greet the crowds.
The original mediaeval Hanseatic League, of a group of towns around the Baltic and the North Sea, was an extremely influential trading association and an integral part of King's Lynn's development and past.
Let’s take a walk through ‘Hanseatic’ Lynn.
In the Custom House on Purfleet Quay, one of the most gracious buildings of any era, are housed models of North East Europe’s first ‘container ships.’ These 14th century ships – whose ability to carry bulk cargoes made them so successful - linked Lynn with Hamburg, Bremen, Lubeck and Rostock. Later ships like the Lisa von Lubeck, a 15th Century caravel, were built bigger and with castles fore and aft for soldiers to defend against pirates.
Stockfish Row (laid out by the Norwich bishops who ruled ‘Bishop’s Lynn’ in the 1140s; renamed King St in a fit of patriotism in the Napoleonic Wars) was where Lynn’s top 15C merchants built new houses and alehouses running down to the river. The Great Ouse was deeper in this part of town enabling bigger ships to moor at private quays. The main public quay - ‘the Common Staith’ - was off Tuesday Market Place.
St George’s Guildhall is the only part of King St that survives from the mediaeval period. Hanse merchant John Brandon was a leading patron.
An archaeological excavation of The Purfleet between Baker Lane and the river revealed a timber-supported 14C quay three times its current width, a safe and impressively broad harbour for English and foreign ships. Pilgrims disembarked here from all over Christendom, including Britain (Lynn was more water-bound then) en route to Our Lady at Walsingham. German pilgrims arrived on Hanse vessels and merchant vessels commonly took passengers across North Sea and Baltic.
Clifton House was probably the first house built on the west side of Queen St after the Great Ouse was diverted from Wisbech to Lynn in the 1260s. It retains an early 14C tiled floor of the Westminster type and an impressive mid 14C brick undercroft. Germans were the only foreign merchants allowed to rent or own their own dwellings in Lynn and the late mediaeval mansion which stood here doubtless housed Hanseatic traders as house guests.
In Thoresby College a slate plaque marks the line of the late 13C quayside and a timber wharf excavated in 1964 shows by how much the river has moved west. Ships from Europe loaded and unloaded here. There is a fine wooden door dating from the reign which put the ‘king’ into King’s Lynn, Henry VIII’s in 1510.
Lynn Fair in Saturday Market Place was one of the most important in the Eastern counties and a major attraction for German and European traders seeking wool and cloth. The busy weekly market and annual summer fair shared the limited space with a charnel chapel and cemetery so must have spilled along High St.
Period brasses and chests in King’s Lynn Minster have counterparts in Lubeck. The Greyfriars tower was erected about 1400 to enhance the Church and provided an important seamark for ships sailing into the Wash until the 19C. St Margaret’s spire served the same function, before falling in a great storm in 1741.
St Margaret’s was the local church of Lynn’s mystic in residence Margery Kempe (c1373-1440), daughter of five times Mayor John Brunham. Margery’s son lived and worked in Danzig but died during a visit home. Margery’s famous Book, the first surviving autobiography in English, compellingly recounts how she took her son’s widow back to Danzig on perilous seas into war zones - against accepted female practice; the express instructions of her confessor and her own terror – in obedience to her divination of God’s will.
The Holy Trinity Guildhall was the home of Lynn’s great Guild of Merchants, including natives of Lubeck, the pioneer port of the Baltic and of the Hanseatic League until the 1350s – and then Danzig, the chief trading partner of the Wash port thereafter. This was where Lynn’s merchant rulers heard the treaty conditions following the Anglo-Hanseatic War (1468-1473) securing German traders a resident post in the town.
Hanse House, the only remaining Hanseatic trading post in England, came into German possession as a condition of the peace when in 1475 the Hanseatic ports resumed trading with Lynn after years of sea-warfare. Merchants from Lubeck, Hamburg, Bremen and Danzig had their lodgings, warehouses, offices, stalls and shops here. The original mediaeval timber frontage was doubtless adorned with the imperious double-headed Hanse Eagle. German merchants occupied it until the 1560s. Today, its handsome Georgian frontage welcomes visitors to an indoor market, Rathskeller bar and the festival’s unique Hanse heritage.
Further information: http://www.visitwestnorfolk.com/explore/kings-lynn/history/international-hansa-day; http://www.marriottswarehousetrust.co.uk
‘Margery Kempe of Lynn’ (a new Marriott’s Warehouse Trust production) plays the Hanse House courtyard on August 2 and 3.
Review of The Mediaeval Baebes
Lynn Hanse Festival Waterfront
This perfect May festival day on the Ouse needed a climax and it got one. As its name suggests, the Baebes’ chorale ensemble, currently topping the classical pops, flirts enticingly with the popular but with an Early Music pedigree. The singing is joyous but stylish, the tunes compelling, the rhythms infectiously contrapuntal, the cadences gorgeously modal, and a mediaeval world away from pop. The arms lifted into the warm summer sky above long scarlet dresses and flower-decked hair, hands clapping energetic accompaniment while the drum thunders and the strings pluck, hint at dancing girls, especially when the singing takes on an Arabian tinge, but ultimately it is the ear that is ravished and excited.
There are nods to witch coven, Bacchae and sirens in their relentless hour-long attack, particularly when ‘Adam lay y bounden’ gets female delight in his plight. The Baebes’ two devotional chants – normally performed in Cathedrals in white dresses– are at odds with their glee in an immaculate birth achieved ‘without the seed of a man’ and in ‘I Sing of a Maiden’ their exquisite hymning in feisty scarlet of Mary’s virgin motherhood, but the disconcerting of audience sensibilities is all part of the fun.
See also Lynn News story, which made it a record 4 day sequence for me troubling the regional dailies here:
And just to prove Al isn't the one who can shoot a camera, this photo-gallery of the day by Maz and me.