Lost Paston letter returns to Norfolk

One of the original Paston Letters, written from Sir John Fastolf of Caister to his cousin John Paston in 1455, is now in the possession of the Norfolk Record Office and can be viewed online. 

The Paston Heritage Society was instrumental in keeping the letter in Norfolk. Following a letter by
PHS founder Lucy Care in the Eastern Daily Press, and an article there
alerting people to its sale at Christie's London auction rooms, the
Norfolk Record Office put in a successful bid of £3000. The PHS urged any Norfolk people interested in the county's heritage to contribute to the cost.

The following article appeared in the Norfolk Record Office Newsletter: 

The Norfolk Record Office has just acquired a ‘lost’ Paston letter (MC 2833/1). It was sent, probably in 1455, by the famous Norfolk knight, Sir John Fastolf (1380-1459), to his cousin, John Paston (1421-66), lawyer and Norfolk gentleman. The letter, written in English at Caister, by Fastolf’s secretary, William Worcester, instructs Paston to take action regarding 18 years’ non-payment of rent for land in the manor of Hellesdon, owed to Fastolf by the prior and convent of Norwich cathedral. The annual rent was two wax tapers weighing 2 lbs. Historians knew the text of the letter from two copies, made in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, but the original dropped out of sight in the 1830s, when it was owned by the antiquary, C.J. Palmer of Great Yarmouth. It did not surface again until June 2012. Experts believe it to be a stray which, until the 1780s, was known to have been with other Paston letters now in the British Library.

Former County Archivist, Dr John Alban, said, ‘The best known collections of Paston letters are those in national institutions such as the British Library
and the Bodleian Library. However, it is not widely known that other Paston-related documents are still in Norfolk. By acquiring this important letter, the Record Office has significantly added to its holdings of late medieval Paston family material. It is also heartening that, having been lost for many years, the original has now been found again and returned to Norfolk, where it is safely in the custody of the Norfolk Record Office and available for public access’.

Images of the letter, together with a full transcript and an article about it, can be viewed on the NRO’s website at http://www.archives.norfolk.gov.uk/e-Resources/index.htm by clicking on Paston Letter (pdf - 2508kB).