New lottery bid to restore historic guildhall

PUBLISHED: 09:19 30 October 2019 | UPDATED: 10:22 30 October 2019

The Guildhall of St George in King's Lynn. Picture: Chris Bishop

The Guildhall of St George in King's Lynn. Picture: Chris Bishop


A new bid for lottery funding could be made to restore a historic theatre.

An application for £2.7m to refurbish the Guildhall of St George, in King's Lynn, was turned down in 2017.

Lottery chiefs said West Norfolk council's plans for the 15th Century guildhall were not sustainable.

Now councillors have agreed to draw up another bid to "fully restore the splendour of the guildhall as a flexible space able to house wide-ranging events and activities, including professional Shakespearian performance, community theatre, and schools' events".

The building is said to be the only surviving theatre where Shakespeare performed.

Its theatre and surrounding buildings, which stretch from King Street to the river, were most recently used as an arts centre. It has been used as a hall for hire since that closed, in 2016.

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The draft bid agreed by councillors pledges to provide a "new interpretation of the Guildhall's fascinating history on-site through permanent exhibition focused on Tudor theatre and the heritage of the Guildhall".

It says it would also bring the building's heritage to life online and on social media. No figure for the works has been included in the draft, which will now go out to consultation with theatre users.

When it turned down the council's previous bid, the National Lottery said: "We recognised the importance of site, the need for repair and reconfiguration, and the desire to maximise public use of the space. However the separate functions proposed did not appear to represent a coherent package with a clear identity.

"The bid provided insufficient evidence of a rethink and fresh approach, repeating previous patterns of use as a theatre and art gallery."

The complex is owned by the National Trust, which leased it to West Norfolk Council for 99 years in 1951.

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