Big Paston exhibition and series of talks attract many to NRO

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.

The first of eight lunchtime talks associated with the exhibition took place the following day at 1pm, when Dr Karen Smyth of the UEA spoke to about 50 people on the subject of The Pastons: Traditions and Innovations in Letter-writing. The remaining talks were equally well attended, with Dr John Alban speaking eloquently on A 15th Century Paston Letter in the Norfolk Record Office (the recently purchased letter from Sir John Fastolf to John Paston) and Dr Anthony Smith contributing a penetrating scholarly analysis of Fastolf's political problems in 1450 and earlier, mainly involving the Duke of Suffolk.

The rest of the talks, now complete: 
Tuesday, 12 November: Books the Pastons Read by Elizabeth McDonald of the UEA
Tuesday, 19 November: The Fall of the House of Paston by archivist and author Dr Jean Agnew (standing room only for this one)
Wednesday, 27 November: More than Meets the Eye: the Paston Treasure by Dr Anna Green, who works at the Castle Museum and at UEA
Tuesday, 3 December: The Remarkable Mr Fenn by Lucy Care, founder of the Paston Heritage Society
Wednesday, 11 December: The Paston Heritage by Dr Rob Knee (this in the form of a letter to the first Margaret Paston from the chair of the Paston Heritage Society)

There were also half-term activities for families on 28 and 29 October.

Peter Stibbons, pictured filming in Norwich, continues to work on the Paston DVD and the new research website. These are long-term projects that fall within the All our Stories grant that we received from the Heritage Lottery Fund. 

The exhibition is well worth visiting if you have not already done so. Free leaflets on the Pastons are available there, and books, CDs and DVDs are also on sale.

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24/10/13