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New Elizabeth Fry items unearthed
Elizabeth Fry (Photo: Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service)
New Elizabeth Fry artefacts have been discovered in Norfolk

Hidden treasures, which shed new light on the work of 19th Century Norfolk prison reformer Elizabeth Fry, were put on display in Norwich.

The artefacts laid forgotten in an attic chest for decades at Northrepps Hall in Cromer.

Included was a fragile red notebook with Elizabeth Fry's handwritten notes detailing prison conditions.

The items were displayed in the English Country House Gallery at Norwich Castle Museum until July 2009.

Elizabeth Fry, the famous English prison reformer and Quaker born off Magdalen Street, Norwich, visited many prisons during her lifetime and endlessly campaigned to improve cell conditions and end corporal punishment in the UK.

"She wasn't the first prison reformer, but it took a strong woman to stand up for these inmates and make sure that laws were changed for the benefit of the prisoners. There's a big difference between changing a law and concurring with and enforcing it," said Marilyn Taylor, museum interpreter.

Fact file: Elizabeth Fry
Elizabeth was born on the 21 May, 1780
Born off Magdalen Street in Norwich, her family home as a child was Earlham Hall, which is now part of the University of East Anglia
Her family is famous for being the founders of Fry's Chocolate
Since 2002, she has been depicted on the Bank of England £5 note
In February 2007, a new plaque was placed in her honour on the Friends Meeting House in Upper Goat Lane, Norwich

The new objects, which include small bibles Elizabeth gave to inmates and a notebook diary of prisoner's plight from more than 150 years ago, were found at Northrepps Hall in Cromer.

The hall was home to the Gurney family, of whom Elizabeth married into.

"At Northrepps they were searching through the attic and found the objects. They were opening a new hotel and were looking at all sorts of objects that could be displayed around it," said Marilyn.

"They came across a box that said 'Elizabeth Fry' that hadn't been opened for years and then luckily one of our museum visitors went to see them and notified us. We are thrilled to place them with the rest of our Elizabeth Fry memorabilia!" she added,

Notebook extracts

A notebook written by Elizabeth Fry at Norwich Castle (Photo: EDP)

Extracts from the notebook go back to 1827, when Elizabeth visited Newgate Prison prior to her tour of Ireland.

"She has headings on the pages of the book - the name of the prison, the number of prisoners in there, how they were employed during the day and what they were actually doing," said Marilyn.

"She also tries to classify the prisoners into different types - whether they were first offenders, male or female, and then she writes general remarks about the conditions and how the prison is run," she added.

The display of the Elizabeth Fry objects took place at the English Country House Gallery, at Norwich Castle Museum and Gallery, until July 2009.




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