eBay buy sparks mystery in Norfolk town

Hampshire collector Sue McLoughlin purchased a silver cup which she discovered had Thorpe Regatta inscribed on it 

Hampshire collector Sue McLoughlin purchased a silver cup which she discovered had Thorpe Regatta inscribed on it - Credit: Sue McLoughlin

A 19th century silver cup has sparked interest in Thorpe St Andrew having been bought online by a collector in Hampshire. 

Sue McLoughlin, from Fareham, recently acquired a silver wine goblet that is inscribed with 'Thorpe Regatta July 30 1852'. 

As a collector of Irish silver, Mrs McLoughlin came across the goblet online which led her to try and research the history of the event. 

Having been unsure of whether the cup referred to Thorpe St Andrew, Mrs McLoughlin was able to generate a discussion among historians in this area. 

Sue McLoughlin with the silver goblet she bought off eBay which had Thorpe Regatta inscribed on it

Sue McLoughlin with the silver goblet she bought off eBay which had Thorpe Regatta inscribed on it - Credit: Contributed

She said: "I bought the cup off eBay a couple of weeks ago - my husband and I collect Irish Georgian silver and if possible, we see what history we can find out about the objects if they have crests or mottos and information on the silversmith etc.

"We immediately thought of Thorpe Park but dates didn’t tie up so we then found lots of places called Thorpe something and found mention of ‘water frolic’ at Thorpe St Andrew." 

The regatta was painted by the Norwich School of Painters with Joseph Stannard's 'Thorpe Water Frolic' from 1824 among the works depicting the event.

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This painting is now on display at Norwich Castle Museum.

Sue McLoughlin purchased a silver goblet off eBay which has Thorpe Regatta 1852 inscribed on it 

Sue McLoughlin purchased a silver goblet off eBay which has Thorpe Regatta 1852 inscribed on it - Credit: Sue McLoughlin

Malcolm Martins of the Thorpe History Group said the goblet was the first he had ever come across for the regatta. 

Mr Martins added: "There would be up to 24,000 people at the regattas. It was not just for Thorpe St Andrew, but a big event for Norwich as well. 

"The amount of people who attended was as big as Carrow Road. 

"I do not think anything was as big as that in those days. The area was not all built up like it is now so people could stand on the hill and watch the river from those vantage points." 

A poster for the Thorpe Regatta event in October 1840 

A poster for the Thorpe Regatta event in October 1840 - Credit: Contributed

Mr Martins said the regattas were originally called the Thorpe Water Frolics when they originally started in 1821 when Sir John Harvey invited friends to race.

He continued: "It was a private affair but by 1823 he opened it to the public so anybody could race. The gentry watched from the north bank and the public from the south bank. A band played classical music."

The last event was organised in 1834 when it was revived by the owners of The King's Head and Thorpe Gardens with the dining room at the Rushcutters built to accommodate large numbers of diners attracted by the regattas.

An article from Norfolk News, published on August 7, 1852, the same year as Mrs McLoughlin's goblet, said cheap trains from Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft brought large numbers of spectators to the event. 

Silver goblets were awarded as prizes including for a double sculling match, before a duck hunt took place ahead of the final match on the day, which caused "considerable amusement to the spectators". 

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