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Our aims are:


  • To preserve Paston Church as a centre for both physical and spiritual refreshment for residents and pilgrims.
  • To aid research into the history of Paston and the Paston family.
  • To seek actively to introduce a new generation of local historians to their heritage.
  • To promote events that unite the community of Paston.
  • To raise money for the proper preservation of the church and other buildings as the need arises.

Please contact lucyecare@aol.com for further details.  

Our members' meeting on March 19 at Bacton Village Hall welcomed author Susan Curran for the first time. Speaker for the night was chair Rob Knee, who gave us an expert insight into Edward and the junior branch of the Pastons.

Our next meeting will be the annual general meeting at the Ship Hotel, Mundesley, on April 25 at 7pm. Refreshments will be provided, and there will be an opportunity to look back at an eventful year for the society, as well as forward at some exciting prospects for the future. All members are of course welcome, and we look forward to seeing as many as possible.


We have discovered over the 20 years of the society’s
existence a large number of stories layered into the central objects – into the
letters and documents themselves. We started by promoting the story of the
Pastons as the history of Paston village itself and how the presence of such a
prestigious family changed the story of the village physically and the lives of
those who lived there.

 

We have visitors from all over the world who trace their
roots to the Paston sites here in Norfolk and want to connect to the letters,
and that is why we are working on a database of all records to be found on the
village of Paston initially – and those records include the letters – at our
new research website, www.thisispaston.co.uk.

 

We have traced the sites of several of the letters and have
researched why such a powerful Norfolk family who built so many grand houses
are now represented by only one – Barningham Hall.

 

Over the years we have found so many ways to explore the letters
– through re-enactment, through poetry and art, by walking the landscape and
mapping the context of the letters, and of course through historical research
into the letters themselves, their context in Norfolk county history, in the
history of England and in archaeology.

 

But in all these varied ways of looking at the letters, I
feel one voice is missing, and so I salute, and hope that you will join me in
honouring, the remarkable Mr Fenn.

 

After the successful Heritage Lottery Fund All our Stories project that the PHS took part in during 2013, the society is now working with Dr Karen Smyth of UEA on an exciting new Arts and Humanities Research Council project – Preserving Place: A Cultural Mapping Exercise – in 2014-15.

  Dr Karen Smyth: spoke on the Pastons at Dragon Hall and the NRO exhibition

The aim is to test a method of digitally visualising all the options, routes and connections involved in preserving heritage and retelling history. The hope is that this will lead to a much larger project in the future that focuses on all aspects of the Pastons’ heritage. The aim is to create an interactive "digital museum".

We hope, for example, to collect and create digital narratives about the lives, networks, letters, editions, heraldry, objects, landscapes, paths, buildings, images and all forms of translations and adaptations, including creative writing, re-enactments and school projects.

The site will also act as a portal for the history of all aspects of Paston scholarship and ongoing academic dialogues. The aim of the museum is to act as a hub for everyone: for the general public, private owners, local history groups, school teachers, tourists, academics, creative writers and enactment groups. The digital museum will, hopefully, be complemented by a physical museum.

  • Watch this space for more details.

A gathering of all the local groups involved in the All our Stories project met at Ickworth House last November. Paston Heritage Society chair Dr Rob Knee was one of those making a presentation, together with fellow trustee Peter Stibbons. Part of this presentation can be seen by clicking this link:  
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/o9z7amlobvb549u/lUr2MvIOee

The films consist of  long and shorter films which sum up the day.

The Paston presentation is the second from the left in the middle row.


The Paston Heritage Society celebrated a remarkable year with a gathering for members at Bacton Village Hall on the evening of December 7.

Happily the hall survived the previous day's storm surge without damage, though just down the road at Walcott it was a different story. As a result routes to the hall were limited (the coast road was closed at Walcott), but this did not deter stalwarts and friends from enjoying the evening, during which we looked back at all the events organised during 2013 as a result of receiving the All our Stories grant. Even founder Lucy Care was well enough to attend, despite her recent problems.

The year's events have been recorded on this website, so they will not be repeated here, but chair Dr Rob Knee thanked everyone who had been involved. Excellent refreshments, including mulled wine, were available as usual at PHS functions. The highlight of the evening nevertheless was Peter Stibbons' showing of selections from the DVD that he is putting together and which will be linked to the new research website.

Further meetings for members are planned during 2014, with provisional dates set at 19 March, 2 July and 15 October. It was pointed out that next year is the society's 21st birthday.

The first big Paston exhibition for 60 years was launched at the Norfolk Record Office on Monday, October 21. The Pastons and the Pursuit of Power, which runs for three months, was opened by our patron, Sir Henry Paston-Bedingfeld, after an introduction from Mrs Hilary Cox, the chairman of Norfolk County Council. The two are seen chatting below.




The exhibition also marked the 20th anniversary of the Paston Heritage Society. Unfortunately the founder, Lucy Care, was too ill to be present, but chairman Dr Rob Knee welcomed everyone and paid tribute to the brilliant work done by the NRO staff in putting the exhibition together. About 70 people gathered to look at the many exhibits, to partake of refreshments provided by the PHS re-enactors, to listen to lute player David Capps, and to witness a 30-minute performance of Margaret Paston: a Norfolk Heroine by Chronicle, the poetry quartet, who had their new CD for sale. There was also a showing of extracts from the new Paston DVD put together by Peter Stibbons, of Poppyland Publishing.

The exhibition was featured on Anglia TV and local radio, and there was a lengthy article on the BBC news website. It can be accessed here. The exhibition itself can be seen online here.

Mary Paulson-Ellis, a writer who visited us earlier this year, has produced an innovative piece of writing based on the first Margaret Paston. She is a member of the 26 group, and the full piece can be seen on their Norwich project website. Click here.

It begins:

The Lost Property of the Pastons

Lost Property Office, Norwich: Regulations

Do not take anything from the office in case it becomes lost again
Do not add anything to the office in case it becomes misplaced
If you cannot find the item you are looking for, come back another time
Leave umbrellas at the entrance
Always wear gloves

Item, The Road to Yarmouth (1)…

It runs like a lizard’s tail up and down the coast, connecting my first home to my wedding bed. I trundle along it fresh-faced, in a cart, a gown of good worsted covering my skin. I am barely eighteen, but ready to bend [...]


           

A completely different kind of Paston event was held at Dragon Hall on May 31. Called Reading the Pastons, it concentrated on the literary side of the Paston family and featured talks from three Norwich-based experts – two from the University of East Anglia and one from the Castle Museum.

There were also two performances by Chronicle – the Paston poetry group consisting of Rob Knee, Caroline Gilfillan, Kay Riggs and Tim Lenton (pictured from left below) – an introductory talk by PHS chair Dr Rob Knee, who also lead a walk round Paston sites in the city, and many ancillary activities involving re-enactors. Lute player David Capps provided  the background tunes, and there was video footage from Peter Stibbons and from one of the published footpath videos. The handmade book was on display, and there was a small exhibition of poetry and pictures.

"It was a very sunny and satisfying day," said organiser Tim Lenton, a PHS trustee. "It's hard to judge what the publicity will bring, but in the end we had a good number for the talks - between 25 and 35 in each case – and there was an excellent response in terms of questions and appreciation. The Chronicle performance also got brilliant feedback.

"The only downside was that Lucy Care, who is the founder and driving force of the Paston Heritage Society, was unable to attend through illness. We missed her."

The first Margaret Paston is on Twitter. If you too are on Twitter, please follow her @MargaretPaston. And do remember to join the Paston Heritage Society Facebook page, where you can follow other people's posts and post yourself.