Gavin Francis - Photo: Thomas Farnetti

The towering figure of Sir Thomas Browne has loomed over Norwich city centre up until recently, when a statue and art installation commemorating him his works was removed for what is termed in local government circles as a refreshed public realm.

The statue is going back but the accompanying sculptures have an uncertain future – something Dr Gavin Francis told a busy Norfolk and Norwich Festival audience would probably have elicited a fairly non-plussed reaction from Sir Thomas himself.

As Francis made clear, Browne would have been surprised that his works are still being talked about at all but this discussion – based on Francis’ new book The Opium of Time published this week – made a good case for that continued attention.

The event saw fellow Browne enthusiast Anna Wyatt, who wrote her thesis on son Edward Browne travel writing, ask a series of questions about Browne elder and his works. While illuminating, it would have been nice to have a more natural conversation between the two, and unusually for this sort of event the audience questions provoked perhaps more interesting responses.

Given the packed out Spiegeltent venue there is still quite a bit of thirst for Browne and his ideas: the hit they give shows no signs of abating.