Talk of the county:
It’s always Norfolk Day says Rowan Mantell
It’s Norfolk Day on July 27. Officially it’s only the second Norfolk Day in history, but here at the Norfolk magazine we like to point out that, with the concept being all about celebrating the joy of Norfolk, it’s always Norfolk Day.
It’s as easy as spotting lavender at Heacham, a sand dune at Holkham or seals at Horsey.
And the magnetism of Norfolk is so powerful that it extends far beyond the county borders. The idea of six degrees of separation, connecting any two people on the planet through no more than five intermediaries, began as fiction, evolved into maths, and is played out in real life. Try it next time you leave Norfolk.
Just occasionally the Norfolk magazine team ventures across county borders to go to different parts of the world – constantly scanning our surroundings to ensure there is no threat to the pre-eminence of Norfolk. We have been known to find something worth smuggling back. For instance, I believe Suffolk had a Norfolk Day before us. They called it something lame, like Suffolk Day, and were hampered by having to focus on celebrating Suffolk, but the teams at the top of the Eastern Daily Press and Radio Norfolk realised a simple change could make it amazing.
A couple of weeks ago, the editorial staff were all out of the county at the same time. I know! You would think there would be a clause in our contracts to prevent it. Rachel was camping in Suffolk, (there are parts of Suffolk so lovely that we have detailed plans of how to annexe them,) Dom was cycling through Germany, aka Nor-Farke, and I
was poshing around at a garden party in Oxford. The first person we greeted was our (Norfolk) son. So far, so unremarkable, since we had come to see him. Next were the couple who arrived just behind us. “Where are you from?” asked my husband, in full small-talk mode. They were from Hingham. A little later we were treated to a tour of St Edmund Hall. It’s not named for our East Anglian saint and king, but the 13th century academic and archbishop who founded it was named in honour of our Edmund.
In the ancient library, complete with chained books, one caught my eye. A note alongside the 529-year-old tome revealed it had been owned by Augustine Steward of Norwich. Augustine, of leaning Augustine Steward House, Tombland, fame, and thrice mayor of Norwich, led negotiations between Kett and the King, funded the rebuilding of the Guildhall council chamber and, quite possibly, bought Blackfriar’s Hall for the city with his own money.
The following day I headed home, via the second city of East Anglia. Although we’d been hosted in wonderful gardens, it was a joy to roll back into Norfolk and see the stunning flower-filled border running the length of the platform at Thetford Railway Station. It would not have been out of place in a National Trust garden. And then, as if there was some kind of contest, Attleborough Station provided not just a pretty wildflower border, but a bowls match being played on the adjoining bowling green. Celebrating Norfolk is easy as (crab and samphire) pie.
‘I believe Suffolk had a Norfolk Day before us. They called it something lame, like Suffolk Day’
Augustine Steward House Siofra Connor