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Legacy of Margaret Paston and her Norfolk family to be explored in 600 Paston Footprints project

PUBLISHED: 17:00 29 April 2017 | UPDATED: 11:20 30 April 2017

Paston Heritage Society chairman Rob Knee with society member Anne Digby. Picture: David Hannant

Paston Heritage Society chairman Rob Knee with society member Anne Digby. Picture: David Hannant

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They were a family who held great prominence in Norfolk in the 15th Century.

Paston Heritage Society members lead demonstrations at the 600 Paston Footprints Launch. Picture: David HannantPaston Heritage Society members lead demonstrations at the 600 Paston Footprints Launch. Picture: David Hannant

Yet Margaret Paston and her family are not the first names people turn to when reflecting on the county’s heritage - often overshadowed by the likes of Lord Nelson and Edith Cavell.

However, a new heritage project has been launched, pledging to explore this family’s legacy and bring their rich history to life.

The 600 Paston Footprints project is aiming to record, interpret and celebrate the history of the family, through a multimedia approach incorporating records, outdoor learning and historical artefacts.

It is a collaboration between the Paston Heritage Society (PHS) and the University of East Anglia, with the help of other bodies including the Norfolk Record Office, the Norwich Writers’ Centre and Hungate Medieval Art.

Paston Heritage Society members lead demonstrations at the 600 Paston Footprints Launch. Picture: David HannantPaston Heritage Society members lead demonstrations at the 600 Paston Footprints Launch. Picture: David Hannant

It was introduced to the public for the first time in front of a packed Mautby Church, in which PHS chairman Rob Knee shared visions of the project.

Visitors were also able to take part in demonstrations of 15th Century customs such as weaving and calligraphy, while learning about what the project will entail.

Dr Knee said: “We knew part of the history of the Pastons but there is so more we can be enlightened about, which is what this project is aiming to do.

“The idea came from an event the society held with the Records Office which was a great success, so it showed us what interest there is in the family.”

The project has applied for Heritage Lottery Funding, which - if granted - will see a plethora of works on the Pastons created.

Among these works are three-dimensional models of buildings in the Paston Estate, heritage walks following their footsteps and online content, designed to bring the family’s story to life for members of the public to discover.

Another project goal is to explore letters written by Margaret Paston and digitally publish some for the first time.

Dr Knee added: “The letters are an incredible insight into what life was like in Norfolk centuries ago, and we have already started analysing them.

“What we are keen to do is produce a body of work that all generations of people can engage with and learn all about this fascinating family.”

For more information visit www.pastonheritage.co.uk or www.thisispaston.co.uk

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