Network Norwich and Norfolk > Regional News > News Archive > 2006 news archive > Actress backs medieval mystic appeal

Actress backs medieval Norwich mystic appeal

patricia_routledgeHer alter ego might be busybody Hyacinth Bucket but in real life Patricia Routledge showed her serious side as she helped to launch a £100,000 fundraising initiative in Norwich.

The star of Keeping Up Appearances is one of five patrons of an appeal for a centre which attracts hundreds of visitors and pilgrims interested in learning more about medieval mystic Mother Julian of Norwich.

And those gathered alongside her at nearby Dragon Hall heard that £21,000 had already been donated.

Ms Routledge said: “I first found out about Julian of Norwich as a student studying English language and literature at Liverpool University but much later, about 25 years or so, the BBC did a series of programmes every morning which was a five minute spot of poetry or prose and they asked me to take part in it.

“She was one of those featured and so I came to Norwich for a week and went to her cell and read some of the things she wrote. I still wanted to find out more about her and came back several times. I was delighted when I was asked to be a patron of the appeal.”

The appeal will do three things; improve facilities at the centre in St Julian's Alley including building restructuring and refurbishment; pay for the appointment of an educational officer to extend the outreach programme within the city and further afield; and to ensure the continued maintenance of the centre.

Prof Brian Thorne, chairman of the Friends of Julian, said: “When the Friends of Julian and the Julian Centre were first established many years ago, Julian of Norwich's star was already in the ascendant. Since these days it is no exaggeration to say that she has shot to the very top of the mystical league table and her amazing book The Revelations of Divine Love is loved and studied throughout the world.

“And yet this world star still, it seems, lacks honour in her own city. Often we are told by visitors who have travelled from the other side of the world to visit Julian's Shrine that local citizens stare blankly at them and are utterly at a loss to offer information or guidance.”

Julian of Norwich was said to be the first woman to write a book in English and she did so while she was a hermit living in a small room attached to St Julian's Church, which is tucked away in the heart of the bustling city.

The other trustees are Anglican Bishop of Norwich Graham James, Roman Catholic Bishop Michael Evans, the chairman of the East Anglia Methodist District Graham Thompson and novelist Susan Howatch.

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