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Originally published 2018
Here in Norfolk we have a rather unique and interesting tradition for that day (Valentine’s) that everyone either loves or hates! Read on for the story of Jack Valentine…
Image: The Norwich Lanes ‘resurrected’ Jack Valentine a few years ago to celebrate this local legend
Jack Valentine was a rather enigmatic character who would leave gifts and trinkets on people’s doorsteps for Valentine’s Day, knocking on the door and running away before they’d answer, so people would find their gifts awaiting them without knowing who the generous benefactor was! He’s known as a mischievous but kind-hearted character, and one which we don’t know a huge amount about. What we do know is that he certainly inspired locals to give their own anonymous Valentine’s gifts, too, so this is a great way of spreading the love!
Sometimes receivers would be pranked, because their present would be attached to some string so whenever they got close enough to grab it the gift it would suddenly be pulled away – naughty, but fun!
It’s not just adults that were recipients of the Jack Valentine tradition – children would often receive a token gift, too. Often the givers would knock on the door and then run away without being seen (this is a far nicer version of the irritating games of ‘knock and run’ that we’ve probably all experienced, one way or another!)
This lovely tradition is still followed today in Norfolk; in fact the Norwich Lanes have been known to ‘resurrect’ Jack Valentine for their Valentine’s celebrations. So if you fancy channelling your inner Jack, there are plenty of lovely shops and boutiques to treat your loved one from!
A few of our favourites for lovely gifts or foodie treats include Sonkai, Lisa Angel, The Giggly Goat, The Tannery, Jarrolds, Philip Browne, The Book Hive, Cupcakes and Bubbles, Berrys and Grey, Macarons & More and Norwich Gift Emporium. There’s also SinSins if you’re feeling a little bit cheeky!
More information on Jack Valentine can be found at The Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell.