PICTURE GALLERY: Ancient tower offers new perspective across the rooftops of King’s Lynn

King's Lynn might have changed beyond recognition over the 700 years since Franciscan friars built it. But Greyfriars Tower still offers sweeping views from The Wash to the Fens - as photographer Ian Burt and reporter Donna Semmens found, when they climbed to its summit.

As steep and narrow staircases go, the winding climb to the top of Greyfriars Tower has to be up there with the best of them.

The spiral of 110 well-worn stone steps becomes more cliff face than staircase at one point.

But every effort has its reward - and the view from the town's highpoint is more than compensation for the climb.

On a clear, sunny day, a fantastic panorama stretching from horizon to horizon opens up before you and it is only from this height (around 90ft) that you realise just how green Lynn is - and how many trees the modern-day town boasts.


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Bounded by fields and the River Great Ouse, Lynn stands as an island of urban life in a sea of pastoral landscape which probably hasn't changed completely beyond recognition since the Franciscan Friars built the tower in the 13th Century.

One of only three remaining in the country, the prominent tower was a sea mark for sailors and traders after the dissolution of the monastaries by Henry VIII, and its strategic position is one of the main reasons it survived.

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The splendour of St Margaret's Church, the Old Courthouse and the distant St Peter's Church at West Lynn are all clearly visible. The beauty of The Walks and the sheer size of the Palm Paper development becomes immediately apparent with the bird's eye view.

In 2003 the tower was a finalist in the BBC's Restoration programme and despite not winning, the Heritage Lottery Fund and English Heritage, along with the council, undertook the massive task of restoring the building and gardens it sits in.

One result of the project sees the tower utilising very 21st Century technology monitoring its every move. At its worst, Greyfriars was leaning at more than one degree before it was fully restored. Now it has a pendulum-type contraption which can send text messages, so any hint of movement would be immediately detected.

With the help of modern technology, this elegant reminder of Lynn's medieval past will be with us for centuries yet.

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