North Walsham

Long-lost letter star of Pastons exhibition

Just Regional
Oct 17, 2013 3 mins read

The highs and lows of one of Norfolk’s most famous families will be charted in the Norfolk Record Office’s new autumn exhibition held in conjunction with the Paston Heritage Society; The Pastons and the Pursuit of Power.

This is the first major exhibition about the Pastons to be held in Norfolk for 60 years and draws on the wealth of the records held by the NRO to tell the story of the family from the Wars of the Roses until Victorian times.
A highlight of the exhibition is a long-lost letter which will be on public display for the very first time. The letter is a stray from the nationally important collection of medieval Paston Letters held by the British Library and was acquired by the Norfolk Record Office (NRO) just last year.
The display in the Long Gallery in the Archive Centre will be officially opened at 2pm on Monday 21 October, and from 3pm members of the public are welcome to see a Paston celebration staged by the Paston Heritage Society.
The exhibition gives the rare opportunity to see documents which are in private hands, a Paston family tree of 1573, decorated with vibrantly coloured coats of arms, comes from Sir Henry Paston-Bedingfeld of Oxburgh Hall, while Paston Sixth Form College has contributed the foundation deed of Paston Grammar School, established by Sir William Paston in 1606. Papers regarding the first publication of the Paston Letters in 1787 by Sir John Fenn of East Dereham (including Fenn’s diary describing his presentation to George III) have been lent by one of Fenn’s descendants.
Dr Rob Knee, Chairman of the Paston Heritage Society, said: “This has been a wonderful opportunity for the PHS to work so closely with the Norfolk Record Office, the UEA and all the other connected individuals and groups to put on such a wide ranging, historic and exciting exhibition. It will make a huge contribution to our efforts to bring the intriguing story of the Paston family and their unique collection of letters to a wider audience.
“The Paston legacy and heritage has still much to yield to all those interested in Norfolk’s illustrious history and wonderful landscape. We hope that the exhibition at the NRO will attract even more people to join us on this fascinating journey of exploration.”
The letter, on public display for the very first time, was written by Sir John Fastolf to John Paston in 1455, and asks Paston to pursue the prior and convent of Norwich, who were behind with their rent for land of the manor of Hellesdon. The annual rent was two wax tapers, each weighing 2 lbs, and by 1455, they were 18 years, or 36 candles, in arrears.

Detail from Paston family tree of 1572

Detail from Paston family tree of 1572

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