Pulling out all the stops at Mannington Hall

It was a cold and damp weekend, but Paston Heritage Society members were glowing with satisfaction – and no small exertion – after a successful History Day at Mannington Hall on the last Sunday of October and the first day of British Winter Time. 

The day was set up when four members of the PHS – Jo and John Berry, Lucy Care and Tim Lenton – were invited by Lord and Lady Walpole to Mannington on July 31 to discuss participation in the HIstory Day. We were encouraged to provide re-enactors, an exhibition and two performances of poetry, monologue and dialogue during the event, which took place from 11m to 4pm.

All the usual Paston Heritage Society material was on show in this wonderful mid-Norfolk setting, not far from Saxthorpe. Mannington Hall is linked with the Pastons in at least two ways:
Horace Walpole was a colleague of John Fenn, who collected the Paston Letters, and helped to publicise them through his contacts in literary society;
William Lumner, who built Mannington Hall in 1460, was a friend of the Pastons, and his widow Margaret married Edmund, third son of John and Margaret Paston.

Chronicle, the four poets (pictured above) who have been involved with the PHS for some time, adapted their Heroine of Hungate, which was first performed at St Peter Hungate in Norwich, for inclusion in the Mannington Hall day. In this incarnation it was called Margaret Paston – A Medieval Heroine and lasted half an hour. The two performances at 12 and 2pm attracted big audiences only too happy to come into the house and out of the cold and drizzle. Some of them may have been attracted by the artistic advertising board provided by Chronicle's Kay Riggs. 

The four members of Chronicle were suitably attired in historical hats provided by Penny Knee, a professional seamstress and wife of Chronicle's Rob. The performance was well received: all members of Chronicle contributed poems either from the original handmade book or from the newer Another Country, and Caroline Gilfillan and Tim Lenton provided songs.

There was a great deal of enthusiasm too for the handmade book, which Tim spoke about in Lucy's absence through illness. Rob took a similar role in relation to the original Fenn edition of the letters. He also played John Fenn in the performance.

Thanks are due to Lord and Lady Walpole for their generous and open hospitality, and to all members of PHS who worked hard in various roles throughout the day – and in setting up on the Saturday.