“Without the pen of the author of Common Sense, the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain.” – John Adams (Second President of the United States)
After four nights it was time to leave our luxury caravan holiday home and return to Grimsby so after we had cleaned up and made sure everything was spick-and-span I took a last look around to make sure we had left it in good order before locking the door and moving on.
I had really enjoyed it here in Great Yarmouth and I was already looking forward to my next cheap caravan holiday in Whitley Bay in Northumbria the following month.
We had a full day ahead of us now so whilst in East Anglia we planned a day which took in both eastern counties of Suffolk and Norfolk.
My pal wanted to drive into Yarmouth but I didn’t agree that this was such a great idea through the morning rush hour traffic so after visit to McDonalds for breakfast buns we abandoned that part of the plan and drove directly west which was generally against the flow of traffic making its tedious way into the bottle-neck town.
We drove now to the Suffolk town of Framlington which is a small, rather unremarkable place except for the fact that it has an impressive medieval castle with imposing walls and towers which was once the home of the Dukes of Norfolk who were forever scheming and stirring up rebellious trouble in Tudor England.
It is a good castle, not the best, it reminded me of Richmond in Yorkshire, there are no internal buildings left, all long since demolished but there is an impressive stone wall and 360° walk around the top of the castle walls and defences from which there are fine views of the town and the surrounding countryside.
After stopping briefly for a drink in a nearby pub where my pal almost caused a riot by asking the local drinkers what made them different from Norfolk people we moved on directly back to Norfolk and the town of Thetford which is only just across the border in the neighbouring county.
Thetford also has a castle but we weren’t looking for that today, instead we were interested in the two most famous things about the town – The revolutionary philosopher Thomas Paine and the television comedy programme, Dad’s Army which was filmed around these parts.
We looked first for the riverside statue of Captain Mainwaring, the officer in command of Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard and found it which will mean nothing to readers from outside the UK but which is one of the most successful sit-com programmes from the BBC in the last fifty years. I had a row with my pal here because he seems to be incapable of taking a straight photograph, always excusing himself with the explanation that what he is doing is art. Every picture on a slant as though I was standing on the side of a hill.
We found the hotel where the cast of the TV series used to stay when filming and then the ‘Dad’s Army’ museum which was sadly closed today but only make me promise myself that I would plan a return visit to this very fine town.
As we wandered around the attractive town centre we came eventually to the statue of Thomas Paine, the most famous son of Thetford and arguably of Norfolk and all of East Anglia, perhaps even of all of England.
Paine was a radical revolutionary, a sort of proto-Marxist, a latter day Leveller, a real trouble maker, an all round (excuse the pun) pain in the ass to the establishment of late eighteenth century England and he didn’t come from London or Bristol, not even Ipswich or Norwich but from sleepy little Thetford.
He published a pamphlet called Agrarian Justice exploring the origins of property, openly challenged the concept of monarchy, introduced the idea of a guaranteed minimum income, supported the abolition of slavery and questioned the very concept of Christianity, as a consequence of which only six people attended his funeral.
How wonderful it is that history often delivers theses delicious little curve-balls and reminds me that I am privileged to live in the greatest country in the modern World.
Paine supported both the American Revolution (one of the Founding Fathers no less) and the French Revolution and his most important work was The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen which became the basis for a nation of free individuals protected equally by the law. In 1792 he was elected to the French National Convention. The Girondists regarded him as an ally, the Montagnards, especially Robespierre, as an enemy and eventually he was arrested but escaped the guillotine and was allowed to travel to the USA
The Declaration is included in the beginning of the constitutions of both the Fourth French Republic (1946) and Fifth (1958) and is still current. Inspired by the philosophers of the French Enlightenment like Voltaire and Rousseau, the Declaration was a core statement of the values of the French Revolution and had a major impact on the development of freedom and democracy in Europe and Worldwide.
The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen is considered so significant that it is considered to be as important as Magna Carta, the English Bill of Rights, the United States Bill of Rights and inspired in large part the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
That I suggest is a fairly important legacy and it is rather smug to sit here and think that an Englishmen shaped the American Revolution and the Constitution of the USA except of course we now have Donald Trump and poor Thomas Paine in his grave somewhere in the state of New York is probably on a permanent Hotpoint spin-cycle
Thanks for the info on Thomas Paine, must look him up.
He favoured revolution and sided with terrorists so you may not approve of him!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Ah, Framlingham castle…visited a few years ago, an interesting detour
A lovely castle and a delightful town, my favourite place that I visited in Suffolk!
LikeLiked by 1 person
It has always been amazing to me the role that Paine played in the American Revolution, Andrew, literally lighting the colonies on fire with a passion for independence with a small pamphlet, Common Sense. And he had only been in the country for a short while. It certainly speaks for the power of the pen in comparison to the power of the sword. –Curt
A man of enormous influence Curt. In a BBC poll of 100 Greatest Britons in 2002 he came 34th.
Actually, I hadn’t known much about Paine beyond his American influence, Andrew. I appreciated your post. And I certainly did’t have an idea about how he was regarded in Britain. Thanks. –Curt
He didn’t make the 2005 shortlist for Discovery Channel ‘100 Greatest Americans’. An interesting list nonetheless…
LikeLiked by 1 person
The concept of straight photographs drives me nuts! It’s especially difficult to be exactly level with the sea, because the horizon then isn’t straight to the human eye anyway.
I hate it when the sea isn’t level in my pictures and I delete them immediately. I don’t mind slanty building pictures but I generally prefer people to be straight (photographically speaking).
LikeLiked by 1 person
Another excellent history lesson, Andrew. I remember Framlington from a long ago trip to Norwich. Thetford we only bypassed. 🙂
I can well believe that old Thomas Paine is on a permanent Hotpoint spin-cycle given our current circumstances. I’ve skipped the spin cycle, choosing to play ostrich instead. The news hardly bears watching or reading these days. Good history lesson though.
It will soon be over, it is just a question of how much damage he can do. Things are not much better in UK right now, a disastrous election and a Government supported by terrorists with medieval views on social policy!
Likely not soon enough. The damage is already piling up and his ‘base’ still seems to blissfully adore him, while Congress plows their agenda through under cover of darkness and the clown in the White House keeps the press enthralled with his tweets. Nothing is likely to change until the 2018 election and even then, obscene amounts of money are apt to maintain the status quo.
I’m not sure I’ll ever understand your system with this business of calling an election whenever/whatever. I used to admire the way campaign money was limited on your side of the pond, but that doesn’t seem to be working quite as well these days.
BTW, I meant your history lesson was good, not referring to the current medi-evil era we’re suffering through. 🙂
Would it be OK if I cross-posted this article to WriterBeat.com? I’ll be sure to give you complete credit as the author. There is no fee, I’m simply trying to add more content diversity for our comm6unity and I liked what you wrote. If “OK” please let me know via email.
OK no problem!