For Whom the Bell Tolls
“There are 13 Grade I listed buildings in King’s Lynn,” explains local historian and former Mayor of West Norfolk, Dr Paul Richards. “There are 300 altogether including 52 Grade II*.” A member of the latter group is Lath House, 15 Nelson Street. It’s a three storey six bay house so unusually the doorcase is off-centre on an otherwise balanced Palladian façade. After being used as offices in the 20th century it is now nine apartments accessed off the intact staircase hall. He credits many of Lynn’s buildings to Henry Bell, 1647 to 1711, a linen merchant and part time architect. “Henry Bell was an ingenious architect, nationally important. He visited London and The Netherlands.”
Dr Richards observes, “There’s tremendous social history packed into King’s Lynn. The BBC are about to start filming David Copperfield here. In the 18th century gentry from London, Bristol and Southampton got their wine from the town. Every two or three years a floor falls through a house mid restoration and another wine cellar is uncovered!” Lath House was owned by the Browne merchant family during this period. When owner Samuel Browne died in 1784, the inventory of his wine stock included Brown Port | Caleavela [sic] | Lisbon | Medeira [more sic] | Mountain | Old Hock | Red Port | Sherry. Total value was £1,682.