Religion in Norfolk at the Time of the Mayflower

This month marks the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower setting sail on a voyage that led to the foundation of Plymouth, Massachusetts. Of the 102 passengers on board we know that at least seven came from Norfolk. So what was the religious climate of Norfolk like at the time which may have contributed to a number of it’s former citizens joining other pilgrims on this journey.

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Moved for Repairs or Used for a Rockery: The real story behind why the font of St. Mary’s Burnham Deepdale spent 40 years in a garden miles away

This is an attempt to tell the true story of the font and its stay in the garden of the Rectory at Fincham from 1807 to 1842. As recently as 2015 a search online brought up the following story:

‘The Norman font once stood in the north aisle but in 1797 it was broken when being moved and was taken to Fincham Rectory to be repaired. However, it stayed in the garden there for 40 years before it was finally restored to its present position’.

So, what is the real story behind how this font ended up 30 miles from home?

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Then and Now: counting and control in time of epidemic

In a crisis like the plague it is vital to get a handle on what is happening.  The counting of deaths was one thing the Mayor’s Court was very keen on.  Norwich was one of the very first places in the country to achieve anything like accurate figures.  From the end of June 1579 they introduced a new system: every week the number of deaths in the city was reported to them (strictly speaking it was the number of burials, but as burial usually came within 24 hours of death, this is not a significant factor).  The first count was in the week ending 27 June when 56 burials were recorded.  This was much higher than the ‘average’ as the plague was already taking its toll.  Every week the aldermen sat together in the Guildhall as the figure was announced, no doubt hoping that the peak had been reached, and that there would be no second wave.  As it happened the highest figure was reached in the week ending 15 August  with 352 burials, and although the decline was very slow throughout the following weeks with the occasional ‘spike’, there was no second wave that year: plague was very much a disease of summer, dying to almost nothing in the winter months.

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The Eatons of Easton: The Archive of a Prominent Norfolk Family

The Eaton Collection is an extraordinary archive documenting the history and activities of the Eaton family over several generations from the late eighteenth century to the twenty-first century.  The archive was collected and maintained by Tom Eaton (1918-2010) and includes his personal papers. The archive was deposited with the Norfolk Record Office over several years. In 2011, a project to catalogue the entire collection commenced and was completed in 2012. The collection is unusual because it consists of many different archive genres including estate maps and plans, correspondence, travel diaries and journals, herbarium, sound recordings, photographs, works of art, and scrap books just to name a few.  The collection is vast in terms of scope for researchers providing an important insight into the social, economic, political and cultural life of both Norwich and the county of Norfolk over several centuries.

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Fighting the Plague in Tudor Norwich

People are supposed to learn from history, so it is interesting to compare the present situation with a similar, or even more calamitous, happening in Norwich’s past.  This is the plague, which first came to Norwich in 1349 (that first outbreak usually known as the Black Death) and then continued to exist in waves over three hundred years.  At first people thought there was little they could do except pray, but over the centuries some practical measures came to be adopted, and these were remarkably like the kind of measures adopted in 2020.  I am looking especially at those adopted between 1579 and 1666 (which turned out to be the final year of plague). The Privy Council (the Tudor equivalent of today’s Cabinet) laid down general ‘Orders’, but it was up to local authorities to decide how and when to apply them.

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King’s Lynn’s trading links with Europe: King’s Lynn and the Hansa

(Or, in a travesty of the old saying, Hansa is as Hansa does)

Over time, King’s Lynn’s trading links with Europe have developed and evolved and continue to do so today. Records held in the King’s Lynn Borough Archives can be used to explore the history of trade between King’s Lynn and Europe through the Hanseatic League.

The Hanseatic League, usually referred to in German as the Hanse, had its origins in the Baltic, and was an association of merchants and trading towns; wealthy, influential men and organisations with vested interests, set up to protect and advance their enterprises. It has to be said that the methods employed were not always of the most legal, and at times were tantamount to piracy.

In August 2009, the Norfolk Record Office mounted an exhibition “King’s Lynn and the Hansa”, revisited in this post.

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Sounds in Silence: Journeys by train in Lock down

Jackie Mitchell, a volunteer for the Unlocking Our Sound Heritage East of England hub at Norfolk Record Office, records her experiences of transcribing a collection of annotated notebooks that document the UK’s railways, and reflects upon the joy of train travel which has been missed during lock down.

“I volunteered to assist with the Unlocking Our Sound Heritage (UOSH) project at Norfolk Record Office in February 2019. The first task I undertook was to listen to recordings of oral history interviews with people who lived in Norfolk. We were asked to make brief notes of the highlights on each tape, to be collated with the digitised recordings of the interviews and archived at The British Library in London.

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Remote Learning with the Coven of Atho

There are numerous references to witchcraft in the archives at the Norfolk Record Office. These references typically relate to cases of people being tried as witches. Of course, the defendants in these cases were victims of persecution but what about ‘real’ witches? It is understandable that there might be few voices from that side of the cloak recorded in the archives from the 16th and 17th century when to express such beliefs could mean death. Fast-forward to the 1960s, where the counterculture and the increased interest in alternative lifestyles would allow Wiccan beliefs to become more widely accepted. In the archives from that decade can be found an unassuming, crudely drawn pamphlet, which gives a practitioner’s view of ‘white’ witchcraft. Welcome to the world of Raymond Howard and the mysteries of the Coven of Atho (NRO, MC 2817/1).

Image 1 MC 2817-1-005

Norfolk Record Office, MC 2817/1

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