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Actor Stephen Fry backs trust’s new vision for historic King’s Lynn theatre

todayFebruary 13, 2021 13

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Plopping on to doormats this morning all over West Norfolk and beyond is a brochure setting out a vision for (with apologies to the Custom House) arguably Lynn’s prime historic asset, St George’s Guildhall.

The brochure has been prepared by the Shakespeare Guildhall Trust (SGT) in an effort to move the discussion about the building’s future forward following the failure of West Norfolk Council to obtain Government grants from the High Street Funds pot.

It has an introduction by entertainer, polymath and West Norfolk resident, Stephen Fry.

The courtyard at St George's Guildhall in King Street, Lynn (44354547)
The courtyard at St George’s Guildhall in King Street, Lynn (44354547)

He says: “Shakespeare’s Guildhall Trust comprises a group of concerned local people with many years’ professional experience in arts, heritage, entertainment, education, and business management.

“This is a vital step towards ensuring we keep this incredible theatre working. I have many fond memories of the Guildhall and I hope to create many more in the future.

“Please support SGT in whatever way you can.”

A vision for the future of the St George's Guildhall in Lynn. The bar area. (44355440)
A vision for the future of the St George’s Guildhall in Lynn. The bar area. (44355440)

The brochure has been delivered to hundreds of key individuals – locally, nationally, and internationally – including to politicians, heritage organisations, academics, and performers.

In a covering letter that accompanies the brochure, SGT chairman, Ivor Rowlands said: “St George’s Guildhall in King’s Lynn is a nationally important heritage site that is at risk of decay and disuse. SGT has a vision to transform the Guildhall and provide a sustainable future for the benefit of the community.

“The Guildhall has 575 years of theatrical history and a little-known connection with Shakespeare.

“It is owned by the National Trust and leased to the borough council. The council does not have a sustainable plan for the site, which has suffered neglect from underuse and mismanagement and is now in need of modernisation.

Shakespeare Guildhall Trust illustration of a possible option for the interior. (44354418)
Shakespeare Guildhall Trust illustration of a possible option for the interior. (44354418)

“The council has failed to secure grants in support of restoration and improvement, partly because of its narrow view of how the site should be developed and managed.”

The publication of the SGT vision comes at a time when the boroughhas revealed that its own economic impact assessment has identified that a revitalised Guildhall will bring a financial boost of over £50 million per year to the local economy.

In his letter, Mr Rowlands goes on to appeal for help and support.

It is all about the audience experience at the St George's Guildhall in Lynn, say the SGT. (44354630)
It is all about the audience experience at the St George’s Guildhall in Lynn, say the SGT. (44354630)

He said: “I am writing to ask for your help to move us forward. Our journey cannot start until the council commits to work with us to deliver a sustainable vision and business plan.

“Only then, with a united approach, will it be possible to move forward with a viable scheme.

“Anything you can do, any influence you can bring, any expertise you can lend, or any help you can provide, will be most welcome.”

Shakespeare Guildhall Trust Our Vision brochure (44359602)
Shakespeare Guildhall Trust Our Vision brochure (44359602)

Copies can be requested in the post, in return for a donation to SGT to cover costs. If you would like to order a copy, please email your name and address to

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