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From the Eastern Daily Press, Monday, July 19, 1999

Let's hear it for Guestwick

DAVID BUNTING,
Park Road,
Holkham.

Keith Skipper in his weekly column (14th July) refers to claims to fame off the beaten track, and mentions Guestwick as one of his favourite places in this category.

Guestwick may be in the middle of nowhere twixt Foulsham and Reepham but it does have its claim to fame.

In an age when dissenters in religious matters were hounded on all sides Guestwick was the location of an early independent chapel built in 1652, no doubt for its isolation, and safety from opposing factions.

In 1760 John Godwin was appointed minister and moved to Guestwick from Wisbech. Amongst his many children was a young toddler by the name of William who as he grew up was educated in a Dame School in Guestwick, and afterwards by Mr Akers at Hindolveston, and later under Mr Samuel Neston a dissenting minister in Norwich.

William Godwin, himself, became an independent minister in early manhood but, forsook the church for a literary career spanning over 50 years, supporting the French revolution and writing a philosophical work "Political Justice", and writing novels, the most well known Caleb Williams.

William Godwin married Mary Willestonecraft [sic], a radical writer and author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.

Unfortunately, Mary died ten days after giving birth to a daughter, also named Mary, who ultimately married the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Mary Shelley also became a novelist, the most famous of her books Frankenstein. The old independent chapel is now a private residence standing back off the road beyond its Anglican neighbour. Did lowly Guestwick and its surroundings help shape the mind of young William Godwin?

Kelly's 1883 Directory entry
Guestwick Archeology [Norfolk Heritage Explorer]
More on Guestwick [GENUKI-NFK]
Return to villages index
Paddy's home page