Public Speaker

Illustrated talks and lectures with Charlotte Paton - Norfolk and rural history

Public Speaker

Illustrated talks and lectures with Charlotte Paton.

Illustrated talks

Charlotte gives a variety of talks to clubs and societies all over East Anglia. All talks are illustrated with a power point presentation. Charlotte can provide a projector if necessary.


25 Things you may not know about King’s Lynn

A “virtual” stroll around King‘s Lynn and surroundings, discovering facts that are interesting, amazing or simply surprising.

Even as a local you may find yourself saying “Well, I didn’t know that!”.

An illustrated talk that is, as all Charlotte‘s talks are, well researched and given with her usual enthusiasm.

Law and Order through time with a local flavour

Beginning with the system of self rule within communities, during the Anglo Saxon Period, Charlotte traces the history of policing in the county through the recollections of policemen themselves, articles from archives, newspapers of court cases, and the punishments given out, including transportation and capital punishment. But it is not all gloom and doom, Charlotte tells of PC Bocking who in helping a local farmer find out who was stealing from his log pile, put a plug of dynamite in one of the pieces of wood. They soon found their man when the side of a workers cottage blew out!

The King of the Norfolk Poachers

“I am intrigued by this man, about his love of rural Norfolk, his hatred of the gentry and his thrill at poaching. I would like to tell you the story of my search for Fred Rolfe who in 1936 published his life story edited by Lilias Rider Haggard. I Walked by Night became an instant best seller and remains a classic favourite to this day”.

Charlotte Paton suspected that her cottage had been the poacher’s home when he briefly became a gamekeeper, and so began her research.

It is a story of a difficult and unreliable man. He left a trail of broken hearts and broken laws. You will want to dislike him, but you may find yourself unable to.

Walter Dexter RBA

Much has been said in praise of the work of Walter Dexter, meticulous, varied, accurate, sensitive to the effects of the light and the weather, expressive of his great love of old buildings, especially churches. Many were painted of his favourite places around the West Norfolk area, and are treasured and kept by his many admirers, so that few come onto the market. Somehow he never became a household name like Munnings or Seago, Why? This is the question that has exercised Charlotte Paton and led her to undertake exhaustive research into the life of this enigmatic man.

At least some of the answers will be found in this talk.

Victorian Rural Women

Whilst researching the life of the King of the Norfolk Poachers, Charlotte realised how little is documented about or by rural women. They seem invisible. There is evidence in books written about them, but much of it is fictionalised, and little comes from first hand evidence. Charlotte set out to unearth the reality of how these women lived. What emerged was a story of grit, grinding poverty for many, and a determination to do their very best for their families.

The Workhouse

At times however hard Victorian families tried to manage their own lives, this proved impossible, and they were reduced to entering the Workhouse. Charlotte reveals the truth behind these grim buildings and what future there was for those behind the high walls. Much of the fascinating information Charlotte uses comes from original sources, many of them local to East Anglia.

The History of the Romany People

A thousand years of the life of the Romany people. How they crossed the world, suffered enslavement and cruelty during the World Wars. How they sang and danced, retained their flamboyance and lived outside the Law when they were unable to live within it. How they lived by their wits and what the hedgerows provided. Romantised and feared, even Queen Victoria was fascinated by them and their way of life. Illustrated with pictures of their caravans, the vardo in the Romany language and many more aspects of their secretive lives.

Elizabeth Freke, 1642 - 1714

She lived in West Bilney, from 1686 until 1714, much of the time without her feckless husband; and managed her estate at a period when it was not easy for a woman. Her frank remembrances tell a quite remarkable story of her life and times.

‘The next day was Saffum sessions wher the said Thomas Garrett (a tenant) wentt to the sessions and did there before nine or ten justices of peace indite me of royatt, assault and battry and there offered before the jury to swere I came downe on purpose to murder his wife and children. Whilst I knew nothing of these my crimes laid against me till the next day the grand jury were so civill to me as to send me word thatt they had brought itt in ignoramus and that they were glad they could serve me against such a rogue as Garrett was.’

‘Fryday nightt, November 3rd, I was sitting in my chamber all alone reading when on a suden my head caught on fire and in three minits time burntt all my head close to my haire. … Itt was God’s greatt mercy I was not burnt to death, and I doe humbly thank him for it.’

Zelia Hoffman 1867 - 1929 An American Abroad

Zelia took a long lease on Blickling Hall, thinking she was descended from Anne Boleyn, and later purchased Burleigh House in King’s Lynn. She entered into local life with gusto. Friendly with blue-blooded Yankees and British Royalty she and her daughter took Norfolk by storm – but it did not end well.

All talks can be illustrated (hirer to provide screen or clear wall).

For fees please contact Charlotte: or call 01553 840145.

Recent feedback on Talks

“…Charlotte’s talks are always fascinating and it was certainly an eye opener to realise the paucity of information to be had about these women and the lack of opportunities in their lives: also to know that so much has changed!” (Hunstanton U3A January 2020 Newsletter following talk on Victorian Rural Women)

“…Just wanted to say a big thank you for coming to our Club last night. The feedback was that everyone thoroughly enjoyed learning about Walter Dexter. I suspect that a lot of them had probably never heard of him, so are now aware of what a clever chap he was. You always make your subjects come alive but it was also nice to see his work on screen too.” Di. 21/4/18

“…On behalf of FLHAG (Fressingfield Local History And Archive Group) our sincerest thanks to you for an enthralling lecture / presentation last night in The Sancroft Hall. We were privileged to listen to an expert, with an unrivalled knowledge of all things ‘Romany’. You covered a vast subject and more importantly, you made us all think and realise that the Romany way of life is still with us today, in the form of: current words, expressions, dress and art work.

I am glad that you were able to come to the second part of our evening at Charlotte Claxton’s and add your contribution to the history of Romany Caravans and their way of life, many years ago.

In closing thank you again, for a very informative, instructive but thoroughly enjoyable evening. You were superb.”

Kindest Regards, Kenneth Rowbottom. 27/7/17

“… Just wanted to say a very big thank you for an excellent talk. I was fascinated by the amount of work it must have taken to get so far back in Rolfe’s family history and all the bits and pieces that you have found along the way did make the talk very interesting.”


“… I will contact you again in the hope that you might be able to do the Walter Dexter talk for us.”

“Our members really enjoyed your talk and were delighted to hear about a real Norfolk character, spoken about with affection as well as knowledge. Thank you too for staying to chat after your presentation. Our members really appreciate this.”

“I would like to thank you for coming to talk to us about rural Norfolk Women. We appreciated the hard work you put into the preparation as well as giving us your time.”