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Learning about heritage buildings in King’s Lynn is child’s play

Heritage Action Zone

Published: Wednesday, 25th May 2022

Children from St Martha’s Catholic Primary School in King’s Lynn have been learning about the town’s history through a fun activity to recreate some of its buildings using recycled materials.

Developed as part of the five-year Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) project, the lessons aim to inspire today’s young people to learn about and protect their historic environment.

Speaking after a visit to see the children working on their buildings, Cllr Richard Blunt, the borough council’s cabinet member for development and regeneration and chair of the HAZ project board, said:

“King’s Lynn has a rich and varied history that is important to preserve, from its associations with King John to its strategic importance as a medieval trading port.

“This project is helping to educate future generations about our local heritage and learn why it is important to conserve it, and I have been amazed to hear how much they know.

“These are also living buildings that remain part of our culture and they are still used: I was talking to one boy about the town hall and explained to him, ‘that’s my office!’”

The sessions at St Martha’s have been run by art educator Fred White, who has been working with year 4 classes from St Martha’s this term. The children were introduced to their historic environment, in particular buildings that were involved in the HAZ programme such as the Southgate, Town Hall and Greyfriars Tower. The children then created their own art from recycled materials inspired by these buildings.

Fred said the success of the project was down to the children:

“I asked them to pick a building that they liked that had history and was also connected with trade. They had to write a bit of history about it, which was a good homework for them, then they have come in, drawn pictures and created their building. I’m really pleased, the drawings are really good.”

The sessions aim to instil an interest in the local historic environment from a young age, hopefully fostering an appreciation for it and a lifelong commitment to protecting it.

The children’s work will be photographed and used to ‘Enrich the List’ of King’s Lynn listed buildings, meaning that pupils can contribute to the National Heritage List for England by uploading photographs of the art inspired by local listed buildings.

These sessions have been funded by Historic England as part of the Kings Lynn Heritage Action Zone and builds upon the previous Heritage Schools work that took place with local schools earlier in the Heritage Action Zone programme.

Cllr Elizabeth Nockolds, a member of the HAZ board from its inception and its heritage champion, also visited St Martha’s school. She said:

“It’s important to inspire people to be interested in their heritage and it’s really great to hear the children talking about our heritage.

“They have visited buildings, walked around them and now know the buildings very well. The amount of work they are doing is really impressive and it’s lovely to see them working on this project and hear them talking about it.

“I’m hoping that this is going to inspire them for the rest of their lives.”

The Heritage Action Zone project is a partnership between the borough council and Historic England, which has aimed to discover more about the rich heritage of King’s Lynn and engage communities in learning about and preserving it. It has resulted in resources about King’s Lynn that can be used in schools with the potential to reach more than 10,000 schoolchildren in the area.

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