Fresh from a night singing for the Mayor of Bourne as part of the Wake Hereward Project celebration of the 950th anniversary of Hereward the Wake’s return to lead the English resistance against William the Conqueror, Sedgeford folk group Waywood regrouped at the Gallery of Hanse House on Heritage Open Day to celebrate local heroes nearer home.
Introduced by Dr Paul Richards and led on two numbers by guest vocalist Melanie Calway, Waywood – Vanessa Wood-Davies (harp) and Gareth Calway (voice) – performed their self-penned ballads about Lynn pioneers.
They featured Fanny Burney, the inventor of the Jane Austen novel; William Sawtrey, priest of St Margaret’s in 1399 and England’s first Protestant martyr in 1401; Margery Kempe of Lynn, mediaeval visionary and writer of the first autobiography in English; Henry LeStrange, founder of Hunstanton; ‘Bad’ King John, who gave Lynn its first charter; the Siege of Lynn, the only Norfolk town to see action in the English Civil War; the Brown Lady, sister of Lynn MP and Britain’s first MP Robert Walpole and allegedly the first ghost to ever be photographed; and the tragic Sedgeford teenager, Susan Nobes, struck by lightning in Sedgeford church in 1819.
The Gallery at Hanse House, England’s only surviving Hanseatic building, proved an ideal venue for this gallery of pioneers and The Ballad of the Backwoods Cavalier (about the Siege of Lynn) saw Waywood’s first-ever dancing audience.
Gareth’s rap in homage of Bad King John and the duo’s praise of Henry LeStrange were both commissioned by the borough council and last performed as part of the official ceremonies and statue unveilings of these figures last October and June respectively.