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Sir Robert Walpole date looms ahead, Lynn News letters

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I feel it would be a great opportunity for the town to commemorate the event in approximately 16 months time. It seems even more appropriate now as we embark on the election next moth of our country’s 78th Prime Minister.

Please accept my apologies for disturbing your busy schedule, but as a historian and devout Walpolian, I would like to brig to your and the council’s attention the fact that Sir Robert Walpole became Britain’s first Prime Minister on 3rd April, 1721.

Born at Houghton in 1676, Walpole was the Whig Party’s MP for King’s Lynn from 1702 to 1742 and between 1721 and 1742 as both Chancellor of the Exchequer and First Lord of the Treasury, our first official Prime Minister. He also holds the record of being the longest serving PM (21 years) and the first British minister to occupy 10 Downing Street, thanks to the generosity of George II.

Houghton Hall
Houghton Hall

He was also the builder of Houghton Hall, now the home of his descendant Lord Cholmondeley. It has long been my desire to see a statue to Walpole erected in the town, although I realise that the cost and logistics of such a project probably make such a scheme impossible. Two of our more recent statues are of Captain Vancouver and King John. Both are excellent representations but there is a certain irony in the fact that the first, although born in Lynn, went to sea and never returned and the second, although we are proud to own his magnificent King John Cup, was not one of our better or more heroic monarchs. Walpole, on the other hand, represented the borough for 40 years and left us a magnificent Palladian mansion that is still a major tourist attraction in the area. The only major contributions to his memory are his portrait in the Town Hall and a road named after him in North Lynn. I was pleased to have some input thanks to Dr Paul Richards, in the placing of a small plaque to Walpole in the entrance of the Dukes Head Hotel. The 3rd April, 2021, will mark the 300th anniversary of Walpole become PM and I hope by bringing this to your attention that our great town might in some suitable way mark and celebrate such an important event. Despite his faults there is no doubt that he was a great politician, statesman and orator and the founding father of today’s political system, being the first PM and first occupant of Downing Street. I have been a guide at Houghton Hall for 24 years, the author of “Bob of Lynn” and in March 2018 I was honoured to be invited by the town guides to present the Diana Bullock Memorial Lecture on Walpole and Houghton at the town hall. Dr Richards has also asked me to give various talks on the subject at True’s Yard and I give talks to various groups and organisations in the area. As a schoolboy, living in the High Street, I was always proud of the fact that our first PM represented the borough. Now as we prepare to elect this country’s 78th PM this would seem an appropriate time as any to bring the 300th anniversary to your notice.

Chris Boxall,

Valley Rise,Dersingham

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