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17th century architect buried in churchyard remembered

Roy Kent, current owner of Felmingham Hall, and Revd Keith Dally, rector of Felmingham, with the restored grave. Pictures  Robert Barker

Roy Kent, current owner of Felmingham Hall, and Revd Keith Dally, rector of Felmingham, with the restored grave. Pictures Robert Barker

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A forgotten architect from the 17th century who rivalled Sir Christopher Wren during his lifetime has been remembered in north Norfolk.

Dougie Whitwood, who restored the original grave,  with Revd Dally. Pictures  Robert BarkerDougie Whitwood, who restored the original grave, with Revd Dally. Pictures Robert Barker

It took some American relatives to persuade Felmingham church leaders of the significance of a man buried in their churchyard.

William Talman, who lived in Felmingham Hall and was Lord of the Manor, died on November 22, 1719.

Rector, Revd Keith Dally said: "Until three years ago, we didn't realise the significance of Mr Talman until two of his American descendants contacted me asking for a photo of the grave.

"It was totally overgrown and broken in half by a holly tree growing through it."

Architect William Talman worked on Chatsworth House. Picture: SubmittedArchitect William Talman worked on Chatsworth House. Picture: Submitted

Revd Dally researched the architect and discovered he had been appointed to the court of William and Mary in 1689 and worked on a number of notable buildings including Chatsworth House, Hampton Court Palace and a building that now forms part of Buckingham Palace.

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He was also responsible for Kimberly Hall, near Wymondham, and the rector added: "We knew it was important to honour the memory of such an important person who seems to have been largely lost to history and yet was on a par with Christopher Wren.

"With the support and encouragement of some trusts and individuals, including the current owner of Felmingham Hall, Roy Kent, we have restored his original grave and erected a new headstone, which was unveiled alongside it at a ceremony on the 300th anniversary of his death.

"We were fortunate to secure enough funding to do this work and honour such an important person in English architectural history."

The stone was carved by stonemason Nick Hindle, and builder Dougie Whitwood worked on the original grave.

The stone was unveiled and dedicated at a ceremony on Friday, November 22, attended by representatives of the church, funders and architects as well as Mr Kent.

An exhibition, partly assembled by the Norfolk Association of Architects, was also on display in the church.

One of Mr Talman's American relatives was hoping to attend, but a family illness prevented her from making the journey. However, some relatives hope to visit on another occasion.



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