Sir Thomas Paston 1515-1550

Sir Thomas Paston was the youngest son of Sir William Paston and Bridget Heydon. Sir Thomas fought with Henry VIII in France and became a Privy Councillor. He was rewarded with ecclesiastical estates in Blofield, Binham and Thorpe. Sir Thomas was active in the defence of Norwich during the time of Kett’s Rebellion in 1549. Sir Thomas will be appearing at the Maids Head Hotel in Norwich on Norfolk Day July 27th 2019.IMG_3639


About the talks – please scroll down

I adopt the chosen character and in costume, use the Paston Letters and related sources to provide an individual history as well as a perspective on the life and times of the Pastons. The costumes are created by Penelope Knee. Talks tailored to suit audiences and locations.

A new range of costumed character talks is available – please see:

From the Mulbarton Heritage Group: ‘Thanks you for your EXCELLENT presentation at our Heritage Group meeting in November….there were many appreciative comments…’

From the Aylsham Local History Society: ‘ Thank you, Rob, for a most informative talk on ‘The Pastons’. It was greatly enhanced by your appearance in character costume and your ability to find humour amongst the Paston Letters’

From the Cromer Society:’ His presentation was not without humour, retaining the attention of an audience of over 60 each week. Each lecture began with the life and letters of the Paston whose costume he was wearing. Robert filled in the historical details. The course was very well received’

From the Dereham Antiquarian Society: Just a line or two to thank you for the splendid show you gave to members of the Dereham Antiquarian Society.
I have had some very good feed back from members and they are interested in another talk in next years programme.
So I’ll be looking to book you for the 2016 programme in the near future.

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Sir John Fenn of East Dereham, Norfolk who was responsible for publishing the Paston Letters




Sir William Paston, through inheritance from a number of family members, became a very wealthy man during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Sir William provides an important link between the family in the early part of the 16th century to the beginning of the 17th century. Sir William used his wealth to build a fine house, great barn and alms houses at Paston, also founding the famous Paston School in North Walsham in 1606 (where Nelson later attended). Sir William lived quietly in Norfolk compared to his Uncles Thomas and Admiral Clement Paston, both of whom achieved fame and favour at the Tudor Court. Sir William provides both narrative and insight into the Reformation and the reigns of Mary and Elizabeth.


John Paston


Sir John Paston, the younger son of John and Margaret, played a key role in sustaining the family during the turbulent years when the Pastons’ enemies confronted them on all sides and the country experienced the confusion and lawlessness of the Wars of the Roses. John was initially attached to the Duke of Norfolk’s household at Framlingham and used this experience to good effect when in 1479 he became the head of the family. John led the defence against the siege of Caister Castle and was wounded when fighting for the defeated Lancastrian army at Barnet in 1471. John received the first ever recorded Valentine’s letter from his wife to be Margery and went on to steer the family through to calmer waters. Sir John was knighted by Henry VII after the Battle of Stoke in 1487.

SIR JOHN PASTON II 1442-1479 (Elder brother to Sir John Paston III)



Sir John Paston was the eldest son of John and Margaret Paston. Sent to attend court in London by his father, who hoped he could achieve useful influence with the King. John, much to his father’s displeasure, grew to enjoy the pageantry and excitement of courtly life. On one occasion Sir John jousted on the ‘royal’ team beside the King. Despite the criticisms, particularly when he left his younger brother to defend Caister Castle against the seige by the Duke of Norfolk’s army, Sir John managed to eventually secure royal acknowledgement that the Pastons were members of the gentry and ultimately secured the family’s possession of Caister Castle. Sir John was an avid reader and worked on his own ‘great book’ concerning heraldry, warfare and his inspirations; King Arthur and Robin Hood. Sir John succumbed to the plague in 1479 and was buried near his home in Fleet Street.


Calle copy


Richard Calle came from near Framlingham in Suffolk and served the Pastons as a very able and loyal bailiff, being present at many of the critical moments. When the family inherited the vast Fastolf estates in 1459, Calle’s value to the family grew and there are many references in the letters to show his key role. Alas, all was to change when Richard and Margery Paston (the daughter of John Paston) fell in love and spoke the sacred words of betrothal. Despite Calle’s abilities and education (he regularly scribed letters for the family) the Pastons were not having an employee marrying into the family. There followed an enormous row, with the lovers being hauled in front of the Bishop of Norwich. However, the vow could not be undone and following a brief period of exile in West Norfolk the couple were married. Calle returned to work for the Pastons eventually but things were never the same. Calle’s story provides insight into the life and activity of the medieval household.