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Celebrate the Maids Head Hotel’s ‘Birthday’ with the Pastons

John Paston (Rob Knee John Paston (Rob Knee) in the former courtyard of the 15th century inn

The Maids Head is staging a special dinner party hosted by ‘John Paston’ on Thursday, November 22, to mark the first mention of the the hotel’s name in a Paston letter dated November 22, 1472.

The evening will feature a three course dinner in the historic Oak Room, with medieval music from Hexachordia, readings from Paston Letters and contemporary poetry inspired by the Paston story. John Paston will also cut a special birthday cake.

Guests arrive at 7.30pm, with dinner served at 8pm and will be greeted by John Paston, performed by Rob Knee of the Paston Footprints Project and Paston Heritage Society, who will be master of ceremonies for the evening. Other costumed members of the Paston Heritage Society will be on hand to do the readings.

John Paston (Rob Knee)

The letter, which mentions the Maids Head, will be read in full in middle English. Guests will hear John Paston advise: “if he tery at Norwyche ther whyls, it were best to sette hys horse at the Maydes Hedde.”

Tickets for this celebration of the Maids Head Hotel’s heritage and the Paston Footprints project cost £35, t. 01603 272007, .

Christine Malcolm, General Manager, the Maids Head Hotel said: “We are proud of our heritage and are very pleased to be working with the Paston Footprints project to bring this special period in our history to life.”

The Maids Head Hotel’s site has a long history; initially the location of the first palace of Bishop Herbert de Losinga in the late 11th century, it became home to an inn called the Murtel Fish or Molde Fish Tavern, whose origins are lost in the mists of time. The first mention of the inn in Norwich records was in 1287, when the landlord, John de Ingham accused Robert the fowler of stealing goods. The Murtel Fish was an important inn, hosting Edward the Black Prince in the mid 14th century, after he had taken part in a jousting competition in Norwich.

The Paston letter of 1472 confirms that the name of the inn had changed to the Maids Head. The core of that 15th century inn stills exists. The hotel’s restaurant is located in the inn’s courtyard, and the Yard Bar and Best Beauty are in rooms which date from the period. Bedrooms above the old courtyard also date from the 15th century.

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 Heritage Lottery funded three-year project is highlighting the remarkable story of the Paston family and the times they lived through. 

The contemporary poetry, which will be read at the Maids Head’s birthday,features in In the Footprints of the Pastons, a Paston Footprints book, which takes readers on a walk round Paston Norwich. The book is on sale at Jarrold Norwich.

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