This lovely book is a must read for anyone living in, or visiting, Norfolk, England. The tales have been lovingly garnered by Hugh Lupton, “a central figure in the British story-telling revival.” They range from the fanciful ‘once upon a time’ local stories – of the type that can be found in many British and Irish tales, and indeed in other European countries, such as the ghost who haunts a ferry crossing where he waited for his true love to join him – to what Lupton describes as ‘legendary histories’: blends of verifiable history and anecdotes that may or may not be founded on truth. These range through pre-historic, Roman (plenty of Boudicca and Iceni legends in East Anglia), mediaeval (St Edmund, the founding of Walsingham, and plenty of other kings and courtiers), right through encounters with Tudor and Stuart kings (Anne Boleyn came from Norfolk), to recent history (the Sandringham regiment’s involvement in Gallipoli).
There are plenty involving legendary local characters, and many ghosts, told in a way that didn’t scare me too much, since I’m not fond of horror! Some make me want to visit the places, especially if I know them a little, but not in detail. The tale of the ossary in the Marsham church, for example – I want to see that crypt! I felt it gave me a wonderfully readable insight into the history of my county, for good or ill; the tales of weavers and silversmiths, of Angles, Saxons and Danes, and of the Fensmen in the Civil War.
I was pleased to see a reference of place names at the back: it’ll provide a wonderful ‘read and explore’ for outings at any time of year. There is also a mysterious sound of silver bells to be heard in my local river not far downstream from me. I feel some detail starting to gather for that Norfolk Gothic tale I want to write!
A fascinating insight into a county with plenty of history and tall (or true) tales.
This book is one of a series of county folk tales from the History Press. I bought my copy on my visit to Gressenhall Museum (also highly recommended)