The role individuals, groups and communities have played in evoking change across Norfolk will be celebrated at this year’s Heritage Open Days festival.
Under the theme ‘People Power’, these events will tell the stories of brave local figures who fought for what they believed in to make our county a better place.
The story of Robert Kett will be explored in several events across Norwich, following the footsteps of Kett and his rebels as they took on the might of the Tudor armies in 1549 to protest against rich barons who stole common land and left the peasants to starve.
Gordon Lascelles, who is leading the Kett’s Rebellion Tour on September 14 and 17, said: “Norwich and in particular Mousehold Heath have played a significant role in demonstrations of people power in the Middle Ages and early modern times.
“The tour will be focussing particularly on walking through some of the places in Norwich the rebels fought during the ebb and flow of their various fights with the three different forces they faced.”
Also running is Shardlake’s Journey to Kett’s Heights, a new talk and tour tracing the route of C J Sansom’s fictional lawyer, Matthew Shardlake, from Norwich Castle to Robert Kett’s HQ on September 14, 18 and 22, and Shardlake’s Norwich Guided Tour celebrating C J Sansom’s best-selling novel Tombland and the story of Kett’s Rebellion on September 21. All three tours must be pre-booked in advance online, with limited spaces remaining.
For those looking to just drop-in, St Martin Palace Centre in Norwich will be running Commotion Time: Walking Kett’s Rebellion and its Religious Connections on September 21, with a lecture and walking tour to visit some of the religious sites associated with Kett’s story.
Another Norwich event where visitors can explore people power in action is at The Archive Centre where a display will mark the 80th anniversary of the end of the Burston School Strike. Running from 1914 to 1939, the strike is one of the longest in history and started following the dismissal of headteacher Annie Higdon and her husband, schoolmaster Tom Higdon.
The event, which is a co-production from the East Anglian Film Archive and the Norfolk Record Office, will take place on September 13.
Michael Norman, one of the organisers, said: “Our display will feature film clips from the East Anglian Film Archive's BBC and Anglia television collections as well as photographs and documents from the Norfolk Record Office which show the lasting impact of the Strike School.
“We are also privileged to be hosting a talk by Shaun Jeffery, secretary of the Burston Strike School trustees and author of The Village in Revolt.”
Moving out of the city, three events will be running in Thetford to celebrate Thomas Paine, the first champion of the Rights of Man. Paine was born and schooled in Thetford and was a true champion of the people.
Everything Thetford Information Centre will he showcasing a unique display of memorabilia provided by The Thomas Paine Society and David Ward, running over eight days from September 13 to 21 (excluding Sunday, September 15).
The Thomas Paine Collection will also be available to view at Thetford Library, with booking required, and the Thomas Paine Hotel is inviting visitors to drop in and see their new hand-painted life-size portrait of Paine, painted by local artist Lee Stroble, open daily throughout the festival.
For those who enjoy trips to the theatre, a musical celebration of the suffrage movement will be staged at St George’s Theatre in Great Yarmouth, sharing the true stories of local characters who fought for women’s rights at the ballot-box over a century ago. The show, called Voters Not Bloaters, has been rewritten and interpreted by members of the community, in collaboration with Norfolk-based writer and performer Helen Vine.
There will be an open rehearsal for people to drop in on September 14, ahead of the curtain rising on September 21. Tickets, which are free, must be pre-booked directly with the theatre.
The Norfolk HODs festival runs from Friday, September 13 to Sunday, September 22. To find the full list of venues and events, along with booking information, visit www.heritageopendays.org.uk
To book a place on one of the free events, visit www.theforumnorwich.co.uk/hods/tickets
With thanks to Everything Thetford Information Centre, Archant and St George's Theatre for the photographs.