East Anglia is full of works of art - just look out of the window
PUBLISHED: 07:00 25 May 2019
He's switched from football to follies and taken off to discover some extraordinary landmarks across Norfolk and Suffolk. Derek James chats to author Edward Couzens-Lake about his new book celebrating East Anglia's beautiful ruins and follies
Across our beautiful part of the country there are new developments popping up all over the place. Our landscape is changing fast...but we mustn't forget about our past.
Norfolk and Suffolk has a rich and unique history and an exciting future but we can learn much from what went before us and sometimes, smile
One man who has been doing a lot of smiling of late is author and passionate Norwich City fan Edward Cousins-Lake - with apologies to all those at Portman Road. Your time will come.
Putting all that aside, Edward has just written a wonderful book called Ruins and Follies of East Anglia which is a must for anyone interested in our surroundings.
Don't be put off by the fact Edward is not a historian. In fact you may think it makes it more readable.
"I have the greatest respect for the men and women that have dedicated their lives to the rigorous study and research demanded of exploring and explain our past," says Edward.
He describes himself as more of a dreamer. An explorer and an inescapable romantic, a man who lets his heart rule his head, one who seeks story and wonder in everything he sees.
This book is more of a travelling companion. A glorious guide book with a difference taking us, and introducing us, to some quite extraordinary "works of art" across East Anglia.
Rather being stuffed full of facts and figures it opens the doors to strange and unusual places and allows our imagination to run wild.
From Aldeburgh to Walsingham there are follies and ruins dotted about all over the place and it is a privilege to join Edward on his travels across Norfolk, Suffolk and further afield.
"So why not indulge in the same riot of imagination when you explore the ruins of an old church or feast your heart and mind upon a building that was designed and built in the manner it was simply because someone wanted form and function to be replaced by flair and fantasy," says Edward.
BROGRAVE: LEVEL DRAINAGE MILL.
When he was just ten-year-old pupil at Brancaster Primary School in Norfolk he was taken to How Hill Education Centre near Ludham - as were so many of us were.
For Edward, and many others, this was the first time he had been away from home. He fell in love with dear old Brograve Drainage Mill within the parish of Sea Palling.
It has a great story to tell involving the devil who pounded his hooves on the door.
CRINKLE CRANKLE WALL: EYE.
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A wall? This little beauty surrounds the main house and grounds of Chandos Lodge believed to have been built and named after Anna Eliza, the then Duchess of Chandos who died in 1813.
WAR MEMORIAL: ELVEDEN (A11).
Neither a traditional ruin nor a folly but it this majestic landmark commands a place in this book as a reminder to us all of the folly of war.
At 127ft in height it is one of the tallest war memorials in the land as well as being one of the most striking. It sits on the Elveden estate and much of the money to pay for it came from Edward Cecil Guinness who, in 1919, been created Earl of Iveagh and Viscount Elveden.
It is a fitting memorial to a lost generation.
GREYFRIARS TOWER: KING'S LYNN.
King's Lynn is a hugely underrated and, in some ways, is an unappreciated town. And that is a shame. It has so much to offer.
Take Greyfriars for example. Built in 1235 and it the remains of what was once a splendid Franciscan friary in this historic town.
Just one of so many hidden treasurers which King's Lynn has to offer.
KENTWELL HALL DOVECOTE: LONG MELFORD.
Kentwell Hall has origins dating back to the late 11th century - a boast which sets it apart from most of its peers in East Anglia and the rest of the country.
"We may consider doves and pigeons pests today but they were anything but that in Kentwell's heyday and, far from being an inconvenience were regarded as extremely valuable commodities - something which the scale and opulence of this particular dovecote illustrates very well indeed, writes Edward.
It is completely over the top - but there is a reason for that!
Not all follies are old. How about the controversial Scallop on Aldeburgh beach? Maggie Hambling's 15-foot high tribute to Benjamin Britten which was unveiled in 2003 which quite rightly demands a chapter.
Art deserves to be talked about and this certainly has been. Some people love it, others hate it. As Edward writes: "It is most certainly eye-catchingly impressive."
Great art is accessible. You should be able to touch it, sit on it, even pose for a selfie as you lean against it.
This books sums up so well that is wonderful about our neck of the woods.
Ruins and Follies of East Anglia by Edward Couzens-Lake is published by Amberley at £14.99 and is in the shops now.