4. King's Lynn (1 of 2)

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Here there were a number of masters with wide and variable circuits competing with each other and with ‘raiders’ from Norwich. Two practices had clear lines of descent, others were short-lived. A straight chronological study is not practicable.

Edward Eastland first advertised in the Gazette, 1725, holding assemblies at the Duke’s Head Inn. It isn’t clear whether these were pupil balls, a social event, or a combination of the two. On 16 March 1723 he gave notice of the opening of his girls’ school and dancing school, both of which he moved to the High Street in 1725. His assemblies, advertised on 4 April 1727, had moved up-market to the Town Hall.

Richard Harris ‘from M. de Stroyd’s in London … teaches at Eastland’s late school’ by 10 March 1744, and continued to practise until 1766. On 25 August 1759 he advertised his ‘Scholars’ Ball’ at St George’s Hall, part of the Town Hall:

‘… at 7pm. Scholars 5/-, non-scholars 2/6. There will be dances as usual for Ladies and Gentlemen.’

He had established the regular event which combined a pupil demonstration, a parents’ evening, a party and good advertising.

In 1757, at the Town Hall, a Mrs Eastland ‘held’ Lynn Mart Assembly – a ball which formed part of an annual Fair. Mrs Eastland must have been Edward’s widow, acting as hostess, an unusual event in the male establishment running of Norfolk assemblies.

Mr White succeeded to Harris’s practice in 1766, or subsumed Harris’s practice into his own, based in Norwich, but with a circuit of Lynn, Wisbech, Kennet, Bury, Walsham-le-Willows and Wickham Market. He did not advertise after 1767.

Mr Oswald, ‘sometime of Norwich’, advertised as music and dancing master at Lynn and at a school in Walsingham on 29 October 1768. Nothing more of him is known apart from his death reported on 28 August 1784 .

Wall du Val advertised on 30 April 1774 as fencing and dancing master at Lynn Town Hall, ‘Schools attended within a 20mile radius. Minuet and Cotillon privately taught.’ On 3 September 1774 he advertised his pupil ball:

‘Town Hall Lynn … his pupils to have 3 tickets each for themselves and Friends. The Ball to open at 6 o’clock with Minuets. The Young Ladies and Gentlemen … to conclude at 9 o’clock and spectators to begin at that time and continue dancing the remainder of the evening.’

du Val returned to his London practice in Hatton Garden, run by an assistant in the meantime, in 1777, leaving his Lynn practice in the hands of his local assistant François Veron or Vernon (he is Veron in the Gazette, Vernon in the Mercury, evidently not local at all, and progressively anglicised; or a franglicised Englishman who regretted his pretence).

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