Looking back on Albert Einstein’s 1930s Norfolk sanctuary

Albert Einstein in North Norfolk. l-r, Mr Locker-Lampson, Einstein, an unknown lady secretary and He

Albert Einstein in North Norfolk. l-r, Mr Locker-Lampson, Einstein, an unknown lady secretary and Herbert Eastoe, one of the guards. Picture submitted - Credit: Archant

He was the most famous scientist of the 20th century - and in 1933 he sought refuge in North Norfolk.

Albert Einstein in North Norfolk with Mr Locker-Lampson on horse, secretaries turned guards Marjory

Albert Einstein in North Norfolk with Mr Locker-Lampson on horse, secretaries turned guards Marjory Howard, left, and Barbara Goodall, right. Picture: submitted - Credit: Archant

The genius who revolutionised human understanding lived in a wooden hut in Roughton, near Cromer, for the best part of a month.

Albert Einstein in North Norfolk with Mr Locker-Lampson. Picture: Submitted

Albert Einstein in North Norfolk with Mr Locker-Lampson. Picture: Submitted - Credit: Archant

It's certainly one of the stranger stories associated with his eventful life.

Albert Einstein in North Norfolk. Picture: Submitted

Albert Einstein in North Norfolk. Picture: Submitted - Credit: Archant

It was 1933 and Adolf Hitler's Nazi party had just taken power in Germany.

Mr Locker-Lampson on horse, with Herbert Eastoe, who acted as his guard. Picture: Submitted

Mr Locker-Lampson on horse, with Herbert Eastoe, who acted as his guard. Picture: Submitted - Credit: Archant

Life became increasingly difficult for the country's Jews, including Einstein, who had developed the special and general theories of relativity.

Albert Einstein.

Albert Einstein. - Credit: Archant


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Hitler attacked what he called Einstein's 'Jewish physics' and put a bounty of £1000 on his head.

The great scientist escaped by accepting a position at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, New Jersey, USA.

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But en route to America he stopped off in Norfolk, for a few weeks' rest and recuperation, courtesy of Conservative MP, Commander Oliver Locker-Lampson.

He had hired a strip of farmland on Roughton Heath and built three wooden huts, to which Old Locker, as he was known locally, could retreat.

Locker-Lampson, who was a fluent German speaker, is thought to have met the scientist at a lecture in Oxford, and they began exchanging letters, hence the offer of hospitality.

The scientist was guarded in Norfolk by Locker-Lampson and two girl secretaries, all armed with rifles in case the Germans came looking for the refugee.

It was all cloak and dagger stuff for fear of exposing Einstein to Nazi bounty hunters, but the press had already been invited to meet him shortly after he arrived from where he had been hiding in Belgium. And his presence in Norfolk was reported in the EDP in September 1933.

Clearly moved by his reception in Norfolk, Einstein later told a journalist: 'No matter how long I live I shall never forget the kindness which I have received from the people of England.'

Einstein, who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921 for his explanation of the photoelectric effect, died in Princeton in 1955, less than a year after the death of Locker-Lampson.

More research is being carried out into Einstein's stay in Norfolk by Andrew Robinson, the author of Einstein: A Hundred Years of Relativity (2015).

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