Kett’s county: Norfolk, a rebel with a heart

Norwich Castle — Embroidery & collage by local artist @SoodleStreet

If you’ve ever been stopped in Tombland by a market researcher, while on your way to the butchers, you may well have been asked about a big brand’s personality. You know the sort of thing: “If Bisto Gravy Granules were a person, what sort of person would they be?”

I’m not sure I have an any idea whether Bisto is kind to it’s mother or good at sports but I do know how I feel about the county of Norfolk.

As a direct descendent of one of Norfolk’s most famous sons, Robert Kett, I ‘know’ this through all those who have gone before and all who will come after. If this sounds rather ethereal; I’m glad.

Norfolk is a magical county not just for its landscapes, seascapes, wide-open skies and stunning lack of a motorway but it has enviable qualities of character threaded through the ages.

Often mocked as having an ill-educated and interbred populous, Norfolk is happy to laugh at itself and even embrace the pseudo celebrity status afforded to it by one Alan Partridge.

If it were a person, Norfolk would be self assured with a social conscience. In the words of Theodore Roosevelt it “speaks softly and carries a big stick”. It feels no need to fall in line with what other parts of the country might be doing, but neither does it shrink from breaking new ground, particularly when it comes to social innovation. When push does come to shove, Norfolk’s leads from the front.

Throughout it’s cultural history, Norfolk has produced fearless leaders at the vanguard of social advancement

Throughout it’s cultural history, Norfolk has produced some outstanding fearless leaders at the vanguard of social advancement: Elizabeth Fry , Thomas Paine, Edith Cavell, Thomas Fowell Buxton, Harriet Martineau and Robert Kett.

Although it can be argued that all lived in times of turmoil, without fail each one rose to the occasion from a position of compassion for others rather than from a sense of duty. They deliberately set out to challenge the social norm in the hope of creating a more caring society.

As we become ever more entangled with the vagaries of modern 21st century life, I predict that once again Norfolk will do what’s required to deliver a more considered way of living.

This article was first published at the inNorfolk blog. Sue Wright can be found on Twitter @firstintheq.