The Pastons were one of Norfolk’s most prominent families from about 1380 to 1750, rising from medieval peasants to becoming nationally important members of the aristocracy, and key figures in the dynamic power-play and politics of the Tudor and Stuart courts. They were, in many ways, the first modern family. What makes the Paston family truly unique is that they left a vast collection of letters and accounts of their lives in late medieval Norfolk – the now famous ‘Paston Letters’. These documents tell stories of their everyday lives, as well as the wider events of the medieval world, and the enemies they made during their rise from obscurity to power. It is now 600 year since the first of the surviving Paston letters was written.
Beginning in May, Hungate Medieval Art will host an exhibition telling the story of the rise and fall of this remarkable family. Running until the end of 2018, the exhibition will explore the legacy of the Pastons beyond just that of the written word – looking at their influence on the history of East Anglia, its landscape and archaeology. Showcasing the work of the 600 Paston Footprints Project, the exhibition will also play host to numerous events, activities and workshops that shed further light upon the life and times of one of Norfolk’s foremost families. Visitors will be able to discover how archaeology and 3D modelling are bringing back to life the lost houses of the Pastons, see previously little known Paston documents, and even meet the Paston’s themselves…
The 600 Paston Footprints is a Heritage Lottery funded project that will, through community collaboration and detailed research, produce a range of new resources that will help local people connect with the remarkable story of the Paston family, as chronicled in the Paston Letters. 600 Paston Footprints is a collaborative project between numerous local partner organisations, including the Paston Heritage Society, the University of East Anglia, and the Norfolk Record Office. The three year project will highlight the remarkable story of the Paston family, the times they lived through, and make original resources available to the public for the very first time.