Master craftsman who has worked with Prince William joins the elite
PUBLISHED: 18:02 31 October 2019 | UPDATED: 08:54 01 November 2019
The ancient art of blacksmithing is alive and well in mid Norfolk.
Master craftsman Nigel Barnett, who has worked with Royalty, has been awarded a silver medal from the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths.
It means that he can now use the title Eminent Master Blacksmith.
Mr Barnett has run Fransham Forge, in Cranes Corner, Great Fransham, near Dereham, for about 22 years and has been a blacksmith for 40 years, starting when he was at school.
He said: "I went to Painters Hall in the City of London to get the medal. I got it for the work I did at Wells Quay, as part of the town's art trail.
"My work, Samfired was a 12ft samphire weighing 1.2 tonnes. It had to be something that was typical of Norfolk.
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"Getting the silver medal means I am at the highest standard I can be, and I cannot get any higher. So when people are looking for a blacksmith, they cannot get any better. There are hardly any people in the East of England with silver medals, and I'm the only one in Norfolk, as far as I know."
Mr Barnett received a bronze medal from the company many years ago and said that a very rare Gold medal was mainly given after the blacksmith had died.
He added: "I'm doing lots of art commissions now and my work goes all over the world.
"I have worked for Prince William and Kate, through an architect, at their home in Anmer in west Norfolk, doing curtain poles.
"But my main income now is from teaching blacksmithing. I have taught the SAS, police, prison wardens, doctors, surgeons, and solicitors. I taught a woman who did set designs for Disney and many film stars, who I cannot name."
He also carries out restoration work and has just completed a Victorian verandah at a house in Norwich.
Fransham Forge can be visited from Monday to Friday, 9am to 4.30pm, and Saturdays, 9.30am to 1pm, except the last Saturday of the month and bank holidays.
It offers a shop, gallery, a sculpture trail, blacksmithing courses and overnight accommodation.