Margery Kempe: King’s Lynn’s Medieval Mystic, Pilgrim and Author

The Norfolk Churches Trust is enthusiastically looking forward to a service at King’s Lynn Minster on Saturday 4th February 2023, commemorating “King’s Lynn’s most celebrated daughter”, Margery Kempe. A new statue of the famous medieval mystic will be unveiled on this special occasion by General The Lord Dannatt GCB CBE MC, President of the Norfolk Churches Trust, and blessed by The Right Reverend Graham Usher, Bishop of Norwich, on the occasion of the 650th anniversary of Margery’s birth.

Carving of a medieval woman on the end of a pew in King’s Lynn Minster
Official Ribbon Cutting of the Margery Kempe New Bench on the Saturday Market Place King’s Lynn by Borough Mayor Nick Daubney. L to R, Toby Winteringham (seated), Peter Jarrold, Professor Anthony Bale, Borough Mayor Cllr Nick Daubney, Alison Gifford, Susan Maddock”. Credit: Lynn News

Margery, who was born around 1373 and died after 1438, is best known for “The Book of Margery Kempe” which is considered by some to be the first autobiography in the English language. With huge energy and vigour, she chronicles her domestic tribulations; her pilgrimages to holy sites in the Holy Land and Europe, including Santiago de Compostela and Prussia; and her deeply personal conversations with God. Margery was probably illiterate and no records remain of any formal education she may have received, so it is assumed she dictated the book to a scribe.

In 2018 the Mayor of King’s Lynn, Nick Daubney, unveiled a bench at Saturday Market Place, commemorating Margery. The bench was designed by local furniture-maker, Toby Winteringham, and sponsored by the King’s Lynn Civic Society.

The new statue has been created by artist Rosemary Goodenough and was commissioned by The Reverend Canon Dr. Mark Dimond, Vicar of St. Margaret’s and Chair of The Margery Kempe Committee of King’s Lynn Minster. The brief was to make a sculpture for permanent installation in the Minster. Rosemary says:

“My sculpture will celebrate the 650th anniversary of the birth of Margery Kempe, 1373 -1438, who was born in Bishop’s (now King’s) Lynn. She was a Mystic, an intrepid Pilgrim and Author of the first

autobiography in the English Language. My sculpture, named ‘A Woman in Motion’, celebrates Margery Kempe as an extremely brave and determined Pilgrim.”

Appearing in EDP. Credit: Ian Burt/King’s Lynn Civic Society