The front of the Guildhall at King’s Lynn, Norfolk, situated in Saturday Market,
has a chequerboard pattern in stone and flint. The part of the building on the right
of the picture was built in 1421 for the Guild of Holy Trinity. The part on the
left with a large cartouche over the door is a later, Elizabethan addition.
The black and white square pattern resembles a chess board. In the Arab world, the
chequerboard pattern has been a symbol of wisdom, presumably as a result of the skills
involved in playing chess. In the Western world, chess became popular in the eleventh
and twelfth centuries, and the idea of building in a chequerboard style may have
been inspired by the game.
More likely, though, the black and white square pattern may be associated with money
and taxes, because in the past a chequered cloth was used to count coins on, and
it became the sign of the money-changer. This might explain why there are a number
of inns named Chequers in seaports, and why the Guidlhall in King’s Lynn has a chequerboard
pattern. Taxes were often collected in guildhalls.
This early sixteenth century tower of All Saints Church, Wheatacre, in Norfolk, has
a chequerboard pattern in brick and flint.