John Timpson, King's Lynn

RICHARD PARR Quintessential Englishness was the advertised title of an hour-long talk by John Timpson , former EDP journalist and co-presenter of Radio 4's Today programme.

RICHARD PARR

Quintessential Englishness was the advertised title of an hour-long talk by John Timpson , former EDP journalist and co-presenter of Radio 4's Today programme.

We certainly “do different” in Norfolk and in his quoted colourful examples Mr Timpson offered much evidence of this being a true maxim.

Following his “retirement” from broadcasting Mr Timpson, who lives near Fakenham, began writing and his researches for a variety of books took him into the nooks and crannies of Norfolk and beyond.

And for this Lynn Civic Society contribution to the King's Lynn Festival, on a hot afternoon in the elegant Assembly Room of the Town Hall, Mr Timpson turned the pages of the books and produced a selection of fascinating snippets that he had found during his travels.

In a relaxed, informal style with that lovely warm, cosy voice of his, Mr Timpson took his audience on a journey into the curious and the unusual and his subject matter was as varied as it was humorous and fascinating.

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These snippets included references to the onion-shaped garden shed at Tottenham (originally the top section off a windmill), the adaptation of a number of Norfolk market town corn exchanges into cinemas (at Cromer, Fakenham and Dereham), the old Sprowston leper chapel which is now a library, and the former control tower on the old North Creak airfield which is now a six-bedroom house.

He went on to tell us about snippets from his book of Curious Days which features references to the curse of Tutankhamun and Louis Marchesi, the Norwich man who founded the nationwide Round Table movement.

He also told us of his views about ley lines and how churches were built on pagan sacred sites. Hindringham church has a “weeping” chancel, the theory being that it reflects the way Christ's head lies to one side on the cross.

From his Norfolk Notebook came a gem of a tale about Lord George Bentinck, who he told us, invented the horse box, and through this invention he won the St Ledger.

All too soon Mr Timpson's time was up but only after he had regaled us with the tale of the “dinosaur” or “sharks” dug as featured on the West Dereham village sign.

Civic Society chairman Sally Smith, on behalf of the audience, thanked Mr Timpson for his entertaining talk.

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