6th March 1945

Glorious morning.  Decided to go to King's Lynn.  Left at one, arrived 2.30.  In several places on the way saw ploughing and drilling with 3-horse teams.  Went to Lynn Market – several horses and ponies for sale.  A poor market though, very much down-at-heel.  The day of the country market is ended.

Went into Museum, which is in a terrible state of neglect and decay.  Quite the most derelict collection I have seen, yet containing so much good stuff.  A lot of birds, some rubbish, but including a sea-eagle from the Norfolk coast.

A Saxon skeleton is shown, not only with the objects associated with it, but with other objects found nearby, all huddled together in one case.  Labelling very poor.

In the main hall is a tiger given by George V, a good specimen but so unsuitable here.  Walls of the hall – (it is an old chapel) covered with heads and antlers, and at one end, a huge painting of a hunt, early 19th century.  Lighting poor.

A case labelled “bones” includes human and animal, some ancient, some modern anatomical specimens.  A label on a human femur says rather startingly: “Foremost of the mammiferous divisions of Creation, Man forms the culminating point of the great scheme of nature.”

In another case, an alleged “hoard” of arrowheads, found in Norfolk.  Several American specimens are labelled as being of Norfolk origin.  The stone implements, many from Norfolk, are very good.  All labels are typewritten, and are bad.

There are cases of fossils, bugs, butterflies, a large brown bear, a deer, foreign shells, a passenger pigeon, foxes, and monkeys, (the last all in one case).  At one end is a Morrison shelter, presumably for the Curator’s use.

The Archaeology is badly shown.  Everything they have is in one case – a beaker, Roman, Saxon and Medieval pottery, many with labels wildly wrong, but maybe they are on the wrong objects.  Noticed Romano-British sherds from Roman villa at Grimston, given by P.G. Laver.

Runcton Holme – material of the same character as that from the Redhills.

Some labels seek to absolve the local authorities from responsibility by saying “Classified by the British Museum.”

One label mentions 120 Romano-British pots (cinerary urns?) found near Swaffham in 1879 when cutting for the railway.  A nice beaker is shown, from Massingham, near the Peddar’s Way.

There is a nice specimen of the ichthyosaurus, found in 1844.

Behind the main hall is the old chapel school-room, now divided into two sections.  One is used for art exhibitions, and the other contains an astonishing mixture of Royal gifts, ethnology, and local Lynn and Norfolk bygones.  There are some very nice Lynn prints, relics of Eugene Arain, portrait of dear little Fanny Burney, a magnificent Viking period stirrup, inlaid with gold, half a dozen celd and a palstrave, a “Celtic” horse shoe, tobacco pipes, a wood “spud”, all in one case.  There are 15 loom weights, but no labels on them.  Every case is dirty.

Some of the African material is very good.

Quite a lot of pilgrim badges, dredged up from the Purfleet.  Some Roman coins, badly labelled, many of them obviously fakes.  Among the bygones is a fascinating “horn moon” a great rarity.  The collection has great possibilities.

Walked round the town.  Noticed very nice house, about 1525, Bennetts Yard, at the N. end of Tuesday Market.  Lower storey is stone, with a fine Tudor Gothic arch leading into yard at rear, and the upper is a massive-framing, overhanging on the street front.  The place is now derelict, but not beyond help.  It appears to be the only survivor of a considerable slum clearance.

Called at the Library, and saw in the Lynn paper that A.P.D. Penrose has been adopted candidate at the coming election.  Reference Library is still firmly closed.

After 6 the town was quite deserted, and rain began, with low scudding clouds.  Set off home, leaving Lynn in its black-out and rain.  Thought of the little Welsh girl Jones, who is to be hung for murder in 36 hours time.  Thought too of the possibility of increased air attacks this month, before the lighter nights come.

Saw the brighter street lights of Walsoken at quarter past 8.  Turned off at Sandringham Avenue, and called on the Levers.  He remarked on the brilliance of the gas-lamps in his road, all of which are left burning during raids.  The only thing to do, in event of an attack being obvious, house-holders to go out and smash the lamps.

Stayed until 10, then walked slowly back to the White Lion.  Found a very pleasant Irish girl there, a Miss Courtney, something to do with the Girls’ Life Brigades.  Sat talking about Ireland (she is from Ulster) until nearly midnight, and so sadly to bed.

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