Norfolk’s neglected architect exposed at Holt Festival

The King's Head at Letheringsett

The King's Head at Letheringsett - Credit: The King's Head

A seminar at the Holt festival this summer will shed some light on one of Norfolk's most mysterious but notable architects.

One of Mindham's Designs, signed by the architect. Picture: Cousins' Hardy Collection

One of Mindham's Designs, signed by the architect. Picture: Cousins' Hardy Collection - Credit: Cousins' Hardy Collection

William Mindham's unmarked grave lies in Holt, but few know that Mr Mindham's work are in fact popular landmarks across the county, dating back to the 1800's.

His work includes rebuilding the Crown Pub at Sheringham, as well as building a bridge over the glaven at Letheringsett, and redesigning and building Letheringsett Hall.

The son of a cabinet maker, Mr Mindham's successes are largely thanks to his patron, William Hardy Jr of Letheringsett.

It remains unknown why the wealthy brewer chose Mindham, a man who left school at the age of 13 and had no further education, to be both his architect of choice and foreman on his projects.

William Hardy Jr. Picture: Cousins' Hardy Collection

William Hardy Jr. Picture: Cousins' Hardy Collection - Credit: Cousins' Hardy Collection

Historian Margaret Bird has been carrying out extensive research into the work of Mr Mindham. The University of London Honorary research fellow said: 'What was really revolutionary about Mindham is that he bought a Greek revival to North Norfolk's architecture.

'Previously, all buildings had been built on Roman ideas of architecture, but Mindham chose Greek which creates so much more light and shade in the buildings. When the sun's on the building you can see the different textures, as the light moves across it it's as though the building is dancing.'

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Other examples of Mindham's work can be found in Holt, where Mindham was commissioned to design two Weslian methodist churches which are now the Chancery Buildings and the St Johns Ambulance building.

Despite Mr Mindham's relative success, and a stream of work from his patron, the architect was still left desolate when his son, William Mindham Jr turned to drink and died at a young age in a workhouse.

Mr Mindham too, ended his days in bankruptcy and was buried beside his wife without a headstone.

Mrs Bird's talk will take place at one of Mindham's creations, the King's Head at Letheringsett.

The evening will begin at 7pm, on Sunday July 23 as part of the Holt Festival Fringe.

Tickets for the event are £28.

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