The church, now known as King’s Lynn Minster, is Grade 1 listed – a building of exceptional interest – in the register of the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England.
King’s Lynn Minister was founded in 1095 as part of a Benedictine Priory. Some Norman architectural elements remain. There are Gothic towers from the 12th and 15th centuries and the chancel, the area around the altar, dates from the 13th century. Part of the building collapsed in 1741 and was rebuilt in Gothic Revival style. The church was the parish church for the town of King’s Lynn and was granted the title of Minster in 2011 by the Bishop of Norwich. (Minster is an honorific title given to particular churches in England, most famously York Minster in York and Westminster in London; a minster refers more generally to “any large or important church, especially a collegiate or cathedral church”.)
John was the fourth of eight children of William Plowright (1791 – 1869) and William’s second wife Sarah Ann Plowright nee Jackson (1796 – 1864).
John’s father William was christened at St Margaret’s in 1791.
William was a mariner. He lived at various addresses in King’s Lynn, among them:
- 1818 Priory Lane
- 1825 Church Street
- 1829 Austin Street
On the 1841 census William Plowright was living at Austin Street. His occupation is described as labourer; his wife was absent; and there were eight children aged from 2 to 20 living in the household. The oldest son, William, aged 20, was a plumber. William’s wife, Sarah Plowright, was a female servant in the household of John Ayre, a merchant living in Norfolk Street, Kings Lynn.
In 1851, William, occupation seaman, Sarah, and three children and two lodgers were living at 22 North Clough Lane. Their son Edward aged 14 was a Boots at the inn. Frederick aged 12 was an errand boy, Mary Ann aged 8 was at school.
John Plowright signed on as a merchant seaman in 1858. On the 1851 census he was living in Tower Hamlets, St Pauls Shadwell, in the East End of London. He was a boarder in a house with other seamen who were also boarders.
About 1853 John Plowright sailed to Australia on the brig “Speculation”, probably as a seaman. He disembarked at Melbourne and joined the gold rush, never to return to England.