Parson Woodforde's Musical Evening

RICHARD PARR King's Lynn Festival event at St Margaret's Church


There is a fascination in diaries — we all like to read what well-known figures record about their daily lives.

You only have to think of the phenomenal interest in the diary of Anne Frank and the daily jottings of Lord Archer.

On Saturday, an audience was captivated as pages were turned of a diary kept by Norfolk clergyman, Parson James Woodforde.

Acclaimed narrator Gabriel Woolf climbed into the pulpit to take on the role of the parson, giving us a unique insight into 18th-century England.

With his wonderful eloquence, facial expressions and turn of phrase, Mr Woolf brought a now vanished world to life.

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The cleric's daily jottings were almost a socio-documentary of the times — such was the rich variety of subject matter covered.

Food played an important part in his life and we were told of severe winters — one year the 15ft snow preventing use of the Jericho (outside toilet).

Woodforde's writings would have been entertainment enough on their own but their presentation was further enhanced by Peter Seymour's skilful harpsichord playing, accompanying Yvonne Seymour's fine soprano voice for songs by composers including Handel, Mozart and Haydn.

As Woodforde might have noted himself: “A very agreeable evening indeed.”