Deal Justly With All: A history of poverty and charity in King's Lynn

Celebrates centuries of generosity, charity, and kindness

By Lynn Museum

An exhibition by Kick the Dust Norfolk, a youth engagement initiative funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Sunderland jug (1800/1899)Lynn Museum

Deal Justly With All

The young people involved in the creation of this exhibition are passionate about telling stories and making a difference, which is why this is not only an exciting history lesson, but also a fundraiser for local charities to help those affected by what is discussed.

Introduction by Councillor Geoffrey Hipperson, the Mayor of the Borough of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk (2019-2021).

Sunderland jug (1800/1899)Lynn Museum

Rich vs Poor

This 1830s lusterware jug, was produced in a Sunderland pottery. It depicts a powerful poetic message, showing the struggle for equality between rich and poor was, and has always been, a relevant issue across time itself: “Deal Justly with all, Speak evil of none”. Do you agree?

Voiding Knife (1500/1550)Lynn Museum

The Dole

Servants used voiding knives in wealthy homes during Tudor times. They swept scraps from the dinner table into a basket named the voider; even bones were not wasted. These scraps were doled out to the poor. Does this term sound familiar?

Poster (1829)Lynn Museum

Idle and Disorderly

Robert Whincop was Mayor of King’s Lynn in 1829. He issued this order, which describes people begging or without a place to live as ‘idle and disorderly persons’ and ‘rogues and vagabonds’ – this was a punishable crime. Do people today still think it is a crime to be poor?   

Plan for Burkitt Alms Houses © Norfolk Record Office kl-se_2-2-2-54 (1907)Lynn Museum


The 12 Burkitt Almshouses were built for and endowed in 1909, by the nephew of William Burkitt, Mayor 1863 and 1886.  Did you know they are still used as social housing for single people over 55, living in the Borough today?

Key with enamel panel depicting the Burkitt Alms Houses (1907/1908)Lynn Museum

Key to the Door

Symbolic 21st birthday keys signify the start of independent adult life. This tradition dates from the times when at twenty-one, you were considered old enough to be a key-holder to your family's home, and thus hold a symbolical 'senior' position in the family.

Female ward at King's Lynn Workhouse, Extons Road (1856/1910)Lynn Museum

The Workhouse

After 1834, workhouses became the main source of help for the poor and needy. Funded by taxpayers, conditions inside were designed to be tough in order to discourage all but the absolutely desperate from entering. 

Identity card from King's Lynn Borough Council Housing Department (1970/1980)Lynn Museum

Social Housing

This unused employee card from King’s Lynn Housing Department is from the 1970s. By then, attitudes had changed and homeless people were no longer punished or sent to the workhouse- but social housing was in short supply. How much has changed since then?

Laws Yard, King's Lynn (1912)Lynn Museum

Charity Begins at Home

This photo portrays the poor and impoverished conditions that many families had to live through in the early 1900s. Living within this derelict housing showcases that simply having a roof over your head does not guarantee shelter and security. What’s your take on this?

Laws Yard, King's Lynn (1912)Lynn Museum

'Not in my Backyard'

Low income settlements with a poor reputation were typically subjected to slum clearance in the early 1900s. This was a form of urban renewal strategy which transformed them into new, and often more costly, refurbished housing.  Do you think this still happens today?

'Child Dropping' poster (1889)Lynn Museum

Desperate Times

In 1889, a child, abandoned in The Walks, was taken to a workhouse.  This police notice warns that anyone who abandons their child will be punished.  Later the ‘Prevention of Cruelty to and Protection of Children Act 1889’ was established. How do we safeguard children today?

We interviewed Councillor Alexandra Kemp to ask how the local council helps our community. She shared many details about the various forms of help available. She also provided us with a several contact numbers so local members of the King’s Lynn community can access this support.

Childs cupLynn Museum

B is for Benevolence

‘Benevolence’ means ‘kindness’.  This 19th century child’s mug encouraged its owner to think of others.  Many Victorians believed their ‘Christian duty’ was to give to charity - and it would save their souls too. What motivates people to help others today?

Poor relief box in Court Room at Town Hall (1894)Lynn Museum

Community Help

Before state funding, churches collected funds for the poor using the poor box or church plate. This poor box is embossed with the name of  W.S.V. Miles, Mayor, 1894, whose portrait hangs in the Town Hall. Are collection boxes used effectively by churches and charities today?

William S. V. Miles, Mayor (1894) by Benjamin HudsonLynn Museum

Noblesse Oblige - The Duty of Responsibility

Mayor Miles' rich surroundings and golden regalia sharply contrast the simple wooden Poor Box that bears his name. 

We interviewed a member of the local community, Sally Beadle, to see how she helps the area. Better known as ‘Crazy Bananas’, she helps the community by doing various appeals where she delivers gifts to those in need on public holidays such as Christmas presents and Easter eggs.

Closing remarks by Councillor Geoffrey Hipperson, the Mayor of the Borough of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk (2019-2021).

Click the link to donate to the King's Lynn Night Shelter

Or use this link to donate to the King's Lynn Foodbank

"Do Justly With All" Kick the Dust work experiece curators (2021)Lynn Museum

"Do Justly With All" funders logos (2021)Lynn Museum

Credits: Story

Created by Kick the Dust Work Experience Curators
Nyeem, Lexy and Savannah
With thanks to:
Rachael Duffield (Kick the Dust Project Worker)
Rachael Williams (Learning and Engagement Officer)
The Mayor, Councillor Geoffrey Hipperson 
Dayna Woolbright (Assistant Curator)
Luke Shackell (Archivist)
Councillor Alexandra Kemp
Sally Beadle (Crazy Bananas)
Hayley Simmons (video edits)
Monika Saganowska (video subtitles)

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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