Paston Letters

The Remarkable Mr Fenn

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, http://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.

The Pastons' Country Project

In 2008 , as part of the Pastons' Country project, writing and printmaking workshops explored the world of the Paston letters and the landscape and buildings of Paston today.  There were opportunities for collaborative work between artists and writers on the project.

We combined the collaborations with an exploration of modern printmaking techniques – “ very suitable as the Pastons wrote their letters in the period when the first paper mill was built in England and the first printed books were published. 

Our innovation has been in the use of non-toxic intaglio printing in the making of images and words. The final product is a beautiful, hand-printed, limited edition book, and there will also be exhibitions of the work produced during the project.

The Paston Letters

"The largest surviving collection of 15th-century English correspondence. It is invaluable to historians and philologists and is preserved mainly in the British Museum. Part is derived from the circle of the career soldier Sir John Fastolf (c. 1378-1459), and part is from the correspondence of the Fastolf's neighbours in eastern Norfolk.

Handmade Book

In 2008, as part of the Pastons' Country project, writing and printmaking workshops have been exploring the world of the Paston letters and the landscape and buildings of Paston today.  Resulting in a wonderful limited edition hand-made book. 

The "amazing weekend" forecast for the Paston exhibition turned out to be exactly that, with the sun shining brightly throughout, and medieval characters to be found enjoying the unexpected warmth of the sun in the graveyard, as well as fulfilling such functions as scrivener and paper-maker inside. In the normally cold church the atmosphere was temperate, even for the Latin Compline on the Saturday evening, when fog paid a fleeting visit outside.