Thanks to you: celebrating 25 years of National Lottery funding for heritage and projects at the Norfolk Record Office

The first National Lottery draw took place 25 years ago on 19 November 1994. Since then, £8billion from ticket sales has been awarded to more than 44,000 heritage projects across the UK through The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Norfolk Record Office, East Anglian Film Archive and Norfolk Sound Archive were able to build a new home in The Archive Centre, which was officially opened by the Queen on 5 February 2004. Since opening, The Archive Centre has received many accolades and has been described as one of the most modern archive buildings in Europe. Its facilities have enabled the NRO to develop services, including programmes of exhibitions, education and outreach, both within The Archive Centre and across Norfolk.

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Running Tudor England’s Second City

The Accounts of the Chamberlains of Norwich, 1539-45

Accounts are an important source of evidence for students of late medieval and early modern history. The requirement that officials should produce minutely detailed lists of all the individual sums that they received and all the money that they paid out sprang from a desire to avoid fraud. As a result, these documents contain a treasure trove of information that is often unavailable elsewhere. How else would we know that in 1542 torrential rain led to such serious flooding in Norwich that the streets and drains were badly damaged, and piles of debris had to be removed from the marketplace? The accounts kept by the sixteenth-century chamberlains illuminate many other aspects of life in England’s second city, from the treatment of homeless beggars to the lavish gifts presented to local dignitaries. Those for the years 1539 to 1545, which have just been published by the Norfolk Record Society, cover an unusually challenging period in the city’s history, when the ruling elite struggled with the problems posed by religious change, economic recession, widespread poverty, food shortages and disease.

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An Elizabethan Beguinage in Hempstead cum Eccles, Norfolk?

Evidence of a Beguinage?

Agnes Vincent, of the east Norfolk village of Hempstead cum Eccles clearly states in the text of her will that three of her kinswomen, Catherine, Audrey and Elizabeth Derham were all ‘dwelling in my house’; with Catherine described as being ‘in service’. The will was proved at Norwich on September 14th 1583 (NRO, NCC will register Bate 125). Given the custom of the day it is curious that four unmarried women were all living together under one roof in this period, albeit Agnes was probably a widow. Continue reading

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THE GREAT SILENCE.

THE FIRST ARMISTICE DAY IN NORFOLK AND PEACE DAY 1919

Armistice 1919.

The ‘end’ of the First World War left an aftermath of political, social and emotional turmoil. Although many men and women were still serving abroad, it was decided that peace would be celebrated while the tragedy of war would be commemorated.
Communities come together at such times and it is the parish records, school records and local newspapers that record such events. Records from the Norfolk Record Office, Picture Norfolk and Norfolk Heritage Centre give a picture of how peace was marked in 1919.

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A Glimpse into The History of Elm Hill: The 1860s and Father Ignatius

Since moving to Norwich three years ago, I have spent many a day ambling around the city centre, often with my camera, and the sight of Elm Hill was immediately of intrigue to me.

This intrigue is obviously shared by many. In June 2019 Elm Hill was transformed into a winter scene for a John Legend produced, Netflix film ‘Jingle Jangle’. Before that, the Norwich Society worked hard to save Elm Hill from the deterioration it had suffered by the 1930s. Today they proudly state that Elm Hill is now “a picturesque mixture of private dwellings, offices, shops, restaurants and cafes – beautiful, peaceful and thriving.” This quaint street seems to transport visitors to a completely different century, with its cobbled streets and old-worldly character. Continue reading

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Elizabeth Bradwell: Accused of Witchcraft and Executed in Great Yarmouth, 1645.

The retelling of history does not lend itself so willingly to the lives of women like Norfolk-born Elizabeth Bradwell. With scarce records surviving that allow us to trace her life, much of our understanding of Bradwell comes from the events surrounding her trial and execution as a witch at the Yarmouth assizes, in September 1645 (NRO, Y/S 1/2). Continue reading

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Saving the Nation’s sounds and opening them up to all

Sound recordings help us to understand the world around us. They document the UK’s creative endeavours, preserve key moments in history, capture personal memories, and give a sense of local and regional identity.

 
The UK’s sound collections are, however, under threat. Many sound recording formats, from wax cylinders to Minidiscs, rely on equipment no longer manufactured or supported by today’s technology industries. Other formats, such as lacquer discs, are fast degrading to the point of irreparability. Professional consensus is that we have approximately 15 years in which to save many of our sound collections before they become unreadable and are effectively lost.

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Pablo Fanque’s return to Norwich

Pablo Fanque, born as William Darby, was the first black British circus proprietor. Apprenticed at an early age to William Batty, a well-known equestrian and circus proprietor, he was first trained as an acrobat and gymnast and then in horsemanship. He became a well-known equestrian and in the 1840s and 1850s had great success with his own circus before experiencing financial difficulties when competition from tented American circuses rose. This blog post focuses on Pablo Fanque’s early and later performances in Norwich and how he is commemorated in Norfolk today. Continue reading

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