What was Samuel Pepys doing at a party in Fakenham?

Pictured at the launch of Caroline Gilfillan's new book Pepys are, from left to right: Lynn Wykes, C

Pictured at the launch of Caroline Gilfillan's new book Pepys are, from left to right: Lynn Wykes, Caroline Gilfillan, David Radley (appearing as Pepys himself) and Dee Orr. - Credit: Archant

The famous 17th century naval administrator, MP and diarist Samuel Pepys appears in our picture to be enjoying a party with pals in Fakenham.

It was, however, performer David Radley dressed in costume to help launch a new poetry book on Pepys, written by his friend, prize-winning poet Caroline Gilfillan, from Fakenham.

Miss Gilfillan, second from the left in the picture, also dressed in period costume with friends Lynn Wykes and Dee Orr at the book launch.

The four of them entertained an audience of about 50 Pepys and poetry enthusiasts with poems, diary readings and songs.

They served people food and drink from the period, including burnt claret, sack, venison pasties and orange custard.

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The costumes were true to the 1660s, the decade in which Pepys wrote his famous diary.

Miss Gilfillan said: 'I wanted people to gain a flavour both of Samuel Pepys and the extraordinary times in which he lived.

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'It was a splendid way to celebrate the launch of my book. I'll be performing the event at bookshops and other venues in the coming months.'

The book, entitled Pepys, is a collection of 45 poems written by Miss Gilfillan about the life and times of Pepys and his contemporaries, a life that encompassed Puritanism, the Restoration of the monarchy, the great plague and the great fire of London.

The book took Miss Gilfillan two years to research and write. It is her first full poetry collection.

She said: 'I really love to write poetry based on historical subjects and research.

'Pepy's diary is so rich and interesting. It gave me so much material to write the poetry about.'

Miss Gilfillan, who teaches for the University of East Anglia and the Open University, won the Suffolk Poetry Society's George Crabbe award last October.

She is a former chairman of the Wells poetry festival, Poetry-next-the-Sea.

Pepys has been published by the Hawthorn Press, Syderstone, which, under the stewardship of Alan Byford and Di Griffiths has been publishing original work by local authors and artists for the past 20 years.

Copies of Pepys can be obtained from Sweets 'n' Things, Oak Street, Fakenham, local bookshops and the website www.carolinegilfillan.co.uk

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