100-year-old journals inspire fresh stories about Poppyland

Bertie Anderson Haggart performing on the north Norfolk coast. 

Bertie Anderson Haggart performing on the north Norfolk coast. - Credit: Fourth Wall Photography

The life stories and local lore of people who lived in north Norfolk more than a century ago are celebrated in a new project by award-winning composer and musician Bertie Anderson Haggart.

Ms Haggard said memoirs from an ancestor of hers had inspired the Arts Council England-funded project, which is called Poppyland Songs.

Ms Haggart said: "A few years ago my dad introduced me to my great-great-aunt Kristobel (Kit) Hood’s journals from around 1913, found in the house I grew up in in Sidestrand.

"They contain her documentation of local history, lore, verses from songs and stories of life in NR27 [Cromer and surrounding villages] which she'd collected from local residents.

"These journals inspired me to find out more about the area I grew up in and set some of the verses found in her journals to music."

Journals from great-great-aunt Kristobel (Kit) Hood, which Bertie Anderson Haggart used as the basis for Poppyland Songs.

Journals from great-great-aunt Kristobel (Kit) Hood, which Bertie Anderson Haggart used as the basis for Poppyland Songs. - Credit: Supplied by Bertie Anderson Haggart

Ms Haggart said she also set stories about Black Shuck and smuggling on the north Norfolk coast to song.

She added: "I have continued this work over the past six months by speaking to the current residents of Poppyland and putting their words to music too so I have now composed a song cycle celebrating the lives past and present of those living on this cliff edge."

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The project will culminate in a concert at the Belfry Centre in Overstrand on Saturday, April 30, supported by other local musicians including Kate Munro, Rachel McDonald and Ivan McCready. 

Ms Haggart said: " I will share the whole song cycle including all the new songs with hopefully the contributors in attendance." 

Having grown up in north Norfolk, Ms Haggart has spent the past 20 years living in London and on tour around the world, but has now returned to the area. 

The term Poppyland was coined in the 19th Century by the poet Clement Scott to refer to the section of coast between Sheringham and Mundesley. 

She said: "Poppyland Songs has been a wonderful experience reconnecting with the community meeting old friends and making new ones."   

The concert starts at 3pm, tickets are £10 or free for Under 16s, call 01263 or email admin@thebelfrycentre.co.uk or visit bertiebow.com for more.