Bringing Jack Valentine back to Norwich!

Have you ever had a visit from Jack Valentine? This year, Visit Norwich are bringing Jack back, encouraging Fine Folks to celebrate Valentine’s Eve by giving token cards or gifts within their households, and reaching out to their neighbours and communities through social media to let people know how special they are.

But who is Jack Valentine? If you’ve never heard of him, he’s a Norfolk Legend who’s been around for the last 200 years or so, knocking on people’s doors on Valentine’s Eve (the 13th February) and leaving gifts on people’s doorsteps. We don’t know much about him or why he’s not widely known outside Norfolk. You can visit the City of Stories website to find out a bit more about him by clicking here, though.

What we do know is that in Victorian Norwich, Valentine’s Eve was a huge celebration, with local businesses advertising their Valentines wares and putting up Valentines displays in their windows. Rather than being for lovers, as Valentines Day has become, on Valentine’s eve, Norwich folks would give gifts and cards to friends and family- like at Christmas. This all sounds pretty neighbourly to us!

An image of a Victorian Valentines card held in the collection at the Museum of Norwich. It shows a bouquet of flowers on a lace background, with a small banner that reads 'love'.

The Museum of Norwich has a display all about Valentines Eve in Norwich. This is an example of one of the Valentines cards in the museum’s collections. If you want to see more, you can visit the museum virtually by clicking here, or on the card.

Perhaps you could get some inspiration for a card to make and send to a neighbour? You could always scan it and send it through email or WhatsApp, to be super safe.

There are lots of ways to share a little Jack Valentine magic this year. Some Norwich Folks have set up a Jack Valentine Facebook group encouraging people to put Valentines Eve displays in their windows to create an art trail around the city. They are also sharing arty ideas and inspiration for making cards at home.

You can join the group by clicking here.

They have also created a Jack Valentine poster which you can print off and colour at home, and put in your window. Download their Jack Valentine poster from the Facebook group, or here:

Plus, there’s more Jack Valentine mischief to get involved with. Visit Norwich are asking people to help continue (or even start!) the tradition of Jack Valentine in our homes this year. Here’s how you can get involved:

• Use #JackValentine and tag @visitnorwich in social media messages to loved and missed ones expressing to them how much you care or thanking people for their support with a picture. Your picture could be a drawing of what you think Jack Valentine looks like (fun for the kids) or it could be a favourite picture or something that represents your message.

• Leave token gifts from Jack for your household on Valentine’s Eve. Create clues, make it a game – little ones will particularly love it. And (to borrow a known phrase) whether you ‘trick or treat’ is up to you…

Messages that are tagged #JackValentine will also be displayed on the Visit Norwich online display wall, helping to spread some love throughout the local community.

Finally, here are some more examples of Victorian Valentines cards from the Museum of Norwich for your inspiration and enjoyment. Top card-making tip from us? Paper doilies…

An image of a Victorian Valentines card held in the collection at the Museum of Norwich. It shows a small girl standing in a garden with a cottage in the background. She is holding two posies of flowers.
An image of a Victorian Valentines card held in the collection at the Museum of Norwich. It shows a bouquet of flowers on a golden filigree background.

Here are some versions of the Museum’s cards that you can print and send to someone, or use to hang up in your window. Print onto A4 card or paper and fold in half to make an A5-sized card.