PUBLISHED: 08:31 13 August 2013 | UPDATED: 08:54 13 August 2013
Archant Â© 2007
Stories are part of the Norfolk landscape. There are folk tales of giants and giant trees, saints and soldiers. For thousands of years Norfolk people have been explaining strange dips in the ground, quirky buildings, deep-shaded woodland and crumbling cliffs through stories. Now Hugh Lupton, of Spratt’s Green, near Aylsham, has collected some of Norfolk’s most haunting and fascinating stories and re-told them as Norfolk Folktales.
Story-telling must have been in his blood from the beginning. Hugh is the great-nephew of Arthur Ransome and remembers many family visits to the writer of classic children’s stories set in Norfolk and the Lake District. “He was very old by then, in his dotage, but I remember him and stories were very important as I grew up.”
Hugh has been a professional storyteller for more than 30 years. Born in Cambridgeshire, he arrived in Norwich to train as a teacher and his own two daughters grew up listening to his stories. In 1985 he helped form the Company of Storytellers to take spoken-word stories to adults, as well as children. National and international recognition followed as he retold stories ranging from the epic myths of the ancient Greeks to the tragedies of Norfolk soldiers slaughtered in the first world war.
His beautiful updated Mystery Play, performed in Bergh Apton church and churchyard during the latest Bergh Apton Sculpture Trail cast villagers in a retelling of the Noah’s Ark story.
He also works with gifted folk musicians and helped create an evocative piece, performed in Walsingham two years ago, to celebrate the 950th anniversary of the vision which foreshadowed the holy shrine.
Hugh has travelled as far afield as Europe, the USA, Africa and South America to tell his stories, and appeared on national radio and television – but his latest collection is rooted in the people and places of Norfolk.
Meet the fierce witches who wander the streets of King’s Lynn, the master of Waxham Hall said to have sold his soul to the devil, the boy raised by bears in Germany found begging for food in Norwich and the prophesy that blessed the people of Potter Heigham. Hugh says his absolute favourite is probably the tale of the pedlar of Swaffham who went to London to seek his fortune, only to be told that a pot of gold was buried back in his own garden. It is the Norfolk version of a story that turns up all over the world.
In Norfolk Folk Tales he breathes life into stories buried just beneath the surface of our own back gardens.