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Bench with a view donated in memory of Norfolk novelist
11/06/2019

​A charity dedicated to promoting the work of the Norfolk-born 19th century novelist George Borrow has presented a bench to Hellesdon Hospital.

The George Borrow Trust has donated the bench because Borrow, who was born in East Dereham in 1803 and who coined the phrase “a fine city” to describe Norwich, suffered from depression.

The curved Henley teak bench, which is located in the hospital grounds overlooking the Wensum valley, was unveiled during a ceremony on Friday afternoon (7 June).

Dr Clive Wilkins-Jones, Chairman of The George Borrow Trust, said it had been paid for from interest that had accrued on money from the sale of Borrow House, the author’s former home off Cow Hill, Norwich.

“Since George Borrow suffered from depression for most of his life, the Trust thought it would be appropriate to fund a bench in his memory at Hellesdon Hospital,” he said.

“It’s a beautiful spot with lovely views and we hope it’s used by as many people as possible – patients, of course, but also visitors and staff.”

Among the guests at the ceremony were representatives of The George Borrow Trust and the George Borrow Society; Cllr Roger Foulger, Vice-Chairman of Broadland District Council; Amanda Hedley, Chief Executive of Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind; and NSFT Medical Director Dr Bohdan Solomka.

Dr Solomka said: “It was a pleasure to welcome The George Borrow Trust and their guests to Hellesdon Hospital, and to thank them, on behalf of everyone at NSFT, for their generous donation.

“The hospital has some lovely grounds, which look particularly splendid at this time of year, and the bench has been installed in a peaceful and beautiful spot. I’d also like to thank our estates staff for doing some planting around the bench which, as it matures, will look spectacular.”

As well as being a novelist, Borrow was a translator, romani scholar and long-distance walker, who had part of his education at Norwich Grammar School and spent much of his life in East Anglia.

He became a best-selling author with his travel book The Bible in Spain (1843), which was based on the five years he spent in the Iberian Peninsula, and he is still admired for his pioneer writings on romany gypsies.

Borrow House, which had once been the home of the George Borrow Museum, was sold in 1994. The author died in Oulton, Suffolk, in 1881.

Most of his readers are in the UK. He is well regarded in Spain and Portugal, and has some dedicated fans in the United States.

The Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library at the Forum, Norwich, has one of the most comprehensive collections of Borrow’s works in the UK and the Norfolk Record Office at the Archive Centre, next to the County Hall, has many of his manuscripts.

For press enquiries, email: nsft.communications@nsft.nhs.uk