May 19 2013 Latest news:
By RICHARD BATSON
Friday, February 15, 2013
It was an historic building that began its life at a Paris exhibition in 1900 - and was moved to north Norfolk’s village of millionaires a year later.
During its time in Overstrand the Danish House pavilion was a second home to a well-heeled London lawyer, whose help was sought by high-profile clients including the Prince of Wales and Oscar Wilde.
In the stunning seven bedroom house and its sunken garden stretching to the cliff edge Sir George and Lady Lewis entertained their artistic, literary and dramatic friends - and in retirement he also burned the papers of cases of famous people to ensure the secrets were not obtained by the hankering “tabloid” press.
The pavilion was badly damaged by fire in 1951, and replaced by a motel which was in turn succeeded by a bungalow development in 1991.
Its story is told in a new booklet released by Cromer Museum, penned by staff member Claire Pettit, who explored the Danish House grounds during her childhood and wanted to delve into the site’s heritage.
“I remember playing there in the gardens. Working at the museum I realised there were histories of other places, but not one on Pavilion because it is no longer there. I wanted to find out more,” she said.
The pavilion was one of eight build on the banks of the River Seine for the 1900 Paris Exposition each showing a national style of architecture for an event which attracted a then record 58 million visitors.
One of them was Lady Elizabeth Lewis, whose eminent husband bought it and moved the building to a four-acre plot at Overstrand - an emerging fashionable haunt which became nicknamed the Village of Millionaires.
Its new era saw the wood and plaster three storey building have seven bedrooms, a verandah, courtyard, stables, kitchen wing and servants quarters, harness room, a tower and an entrance reached by a covered walkway.
The booklet also sheds light on the career of Sir George Lewis who extricated the Price of Wales from the Tranby Croft baccarat affair, a scandal which embroiled the royal through his involvement in an illegal card game. The lawyer was also asked to help Oscar Wilde who was being blackmailed by a young homosexual.
Miss Pettit said the story of Sir George was just as fascinating as the house. He wore a monocle and fur coast even on hot days.
He was constantly badgered by the press to sell them his most famous cases. But when he retired he instructed his clerk to bring all those papers to Overstrand where burned them in the pavilion grounds, leaving all the clients’ secrets safely in a pile of ashes.
The Danish Pavilion Overstrand by Claire Pettit is available at Cromer museum price £2.50.
Nearly 3,000 people have supported a Facebook campaign demanding safety improvements on the A47 near Dereham set up after the latest fatal crash.
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