Aviva dances back through time to support a National Archive campaign

Article date: 18 November 2013

  • A new display called Policies and Polkas tells the story of the dancing Norwich Noverre family

The sumptuous surroundings of Marble Hall will be the setting for a very special display which people can explore and be inspired to learn about the amazing things archivists have in their vaults.

The national Explore Your Archive campaign is encouraging people to discover the stories, the facts, the places and the people that are at the heart of our communities. Archives across the UK and Ireland are taking part to raise awareness of the value of archives to society and of the rich variety of content that is held, preserved and made available to users. 

Aviva has produced a display called Policies and Polkas which highlights the former Norwich Union’s dancing directors and their descendants. The Noverre family, who were dancing masters of Norwich, were also directors, staff and customers of Norwich Union for over 120 years.  The display shows the various types of records we hold as we follow members of the family going through the original process of taking out life assurance policies, attending board meetings to decide on the payment of claims and participating in the ordinary and extraordinary events of office life.

In addition, we will also be producing blogs at www.aviva.com/about-us/heritage where we will take the reader along on our journey of discovery demonstrating the highs and lows of archival research and sharing the thrill of connecting with the past.

Anna Stone, Group archivist at Aviva, said: “We are delighted to be involved with our fellow archivists in the national Explore Your Archive campaign to showcase some of the wonderful material Aviva holds.

“The campaign is also a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate that the records of a business are also those of the community in which we operate. Our records for Norwich Union Insurance, now Aviva, give an amazing insight into life in Norwich over the last 200 years and tell us just as much about those who worked for us, and the customers who bought our products, as they do about the mechanics of the insurance industry.”

Fascinating Facts About The Display

  • The first Norwich Union Noverre was called Francis whose uncle, Jean-Georges Noverre, reputedly taught Marie Antoinette to dance.
  • Francis’s father, Augustin, fled to Norwich in 1755 when he incorrectly believed he’d killed an anti-French protester who had jumped on stage at Drury Lane to attack him.
  • Charles (the third generation Noverre) was a musical editor for the EDP in the mid 1880s and an article in the archive tells that he wrote concert reviews in his carriage on the way home by the light of a small cycle lamp so they could appear in the paper the next morning.

Aviva employs two qualified archivists to look after a collection of more than 28,000 items, relating to our 317 year history. The records of over 1021 companies are represented in the archive collection including those of the UK’s oldest fire insurer, the oldest mutual life insurer, and the first companies to issue accident, guarantee and burglary insurance.

Nick Kingsley, head of archive sector development at The National Archive said: “Visiting an archive can take you on an adventure – you may end up discovering much more than you imagined. Archives are full of fascinating content to read, touch and explore. And it isn’t available from Google. Take time to explore archives – whether you’re interested in music, dance, property or the people and history of where you live, there will be something to inspire you in archives.”

Aviva is inviting people to its event from Monday 18th November to explore their archive display and to find out about the dancing Noverre family and their links to Norwich Union. Tours of the Marble Hall reception in Surrey House, one of the 12 major heritage buildings in Norwich and where the display will be located, are available during office hours.  To book a tour, please call 01603 681062.

To find out more about the campaign and how you can start your own adventure visit www.exploreyourarchive.org

- Ends -

If you would like further information or would like to see the display, then please contact

John Franklin : Aviva Press Office : 01603 680795 : 07800 692110 : john.s.franklin@aviva.co.uk

For more general information about the Explore Your Archive campaign, please contact Angela Owusu Angela.Owusu@nationalarchives.gsi.gov.uk                                                                         

Notes to editors:

Aviva provides insurance, savings and investment products to 34 million customers worldwide.

We are the UK’s largest insurer with over 14 million customers and one of Europe’s leading providers of life and general insurance. We combine strong life insurance, general insurance and asset management businesses under one powerful brand. We are committed to serving our customers well in order to build a stronger, sustainable business, which makes a positive contribution to society, and for which our people are proud to work.

We are ranked as one of the UK’s top ten most valuable brands and Aviva Plc is in the top 10% of socially responsible companies globally in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index.  In 2012 we invested £5.7m into our UK communities. One in three of our employees were involved in community investment activities which included giving nearly 30,000 hours.

Aviva is working in partnership with Railway Children through the Aviva Street to School programme to get children living or working on UK streets back into everyday life, especially education. Find out more at www.aviva.co.uk/street-to-school.

The Aviva media centre at www.aviva.com/media includes company information and a news release archive.

For broadcast-standard video, please visit http://www.aviva.com/media/video/.

Follow us on twitter: www.twitter.com/avivaplc

About The National Archives

For the record, for good…The National Archives is a government department and an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). As the official archive of the UK government and England and Wales, we look after and make available to the public a collection of historical records dating back over 1,000 years, including records as diverse as Domesday Book and MI5 files. Our 21st-century role is to collect and secure the future of the record, both digital and physical, to preserve it for generations to come, and to make it as accessible as possible. We do this by devising technological solutions to ensure the long-term survival of public records and working to widen access to our collection. The National Archives also advises on information management across government, publishes all UK legislation, manages Crown copyright and leads the archive sector. We work to promote and improve access to public sector information and its re-use www.nationalarchives.gov.uk.

About the Archives and Records Association (UK & Ireland)

The Archives and Records Association (UK & Ireland) is the lead professional body for archivists, archive conservators and records managers in the UK and Ireland. It works internationally and throughout the UK and Ireland, often in partnership with other national organisations, to represent those who work in archives and records management and also those who own and use archives.

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