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King John statue to be unveiled in King's Lynn 800 years after loss of crown jewels in the Wash

Portrait of King John. Picture supplied by Stories of Lynn.

Portrait of King John. Picture supplied by Stories of Lynn.

Archant

Legend has it that on October 12, 1216 King John lost the crown jewels in the Wash.

Clay model of the King John statue.  Sculptor Alan Beattie HerriotClay model of the King John statue. Sculptor Alan Beattie Herriot

And 800 years later, a life-sized statue of the much-maligned monarch will be unveiled in King’s Lynn town centre.

The £22,000 statue, which is being kept under wraps until the unveiling, has been created by Alan Beattie Herriot, whose Edinburgh studio is attached to the Powderhall Bronze Foundry.

The sculptor, whose previous works include statues of Robert the Bruce and Denis Law, said: “It’s cast in bronze and slightly larger than King John would have been in life – it’s about 6ft tall, and he was about 5ft 5ins.

“The king is wearing a crown and is bearded. I based the likeness on a number of contemporary effigies of John.

“He’s wearing a cassock and has three recumbent lions on his chest. He has a sword and is dressed in chainmail.

“He looks kingly, and formidable, as he would have been in life, as he was a knight and a soldier.

“The base plinth is about 50cm tall, so it will be elevated – if you stand next to it, it will be quite large. It weighs about 250-300kg.”

It will be accompanied by a panel describing the king’s connections with the town.

There will also be an information board signposting visitors to nearby historic attractions.

Elizabeth Nockolds, West Norfolk Council’s cabinet member for culture, heritage and art, said: “Public art is naturally a talking point so we hope this statue will encourage people to think about the heritage of the town and to visit the many attractions that celebrate it. We hope it will become as photographed as the statue of Captain George Vancouver by the Custom House.”

The monarch’s links to King’s Lynn go back to 1204 when he granted the busy port a charter which established the town as a free borough. His legacy can also be seen in the King John Cup and King John Sword, which are both part of the town’s collections.

The statue, which was funded by the borough council as part of the Stories of Lynn Heritage Lottery Fund scheme, will be unveiled by borough mayor David Whitby outside Kenneth Bush solicitors in New Conduit Street at 9.30am on October 12.

Do you have a story about local history? Email newsdesk@archant.co.uk

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