Poppyland recaptured: Sisters set great-great aunt’s words to music at Northrepps concert

Sisters Evie Anderson (left) and Bertie Anderson-Haggart. Picture: COURTESY OF FAMILY

Sisters Evie Anderson (left) and Bertie Anderson-Haggart. Picture: COURTESY OF FAMILY - Credit: Archant

A concert at the weekend will see two musical sisters bring back to life a long-lost rural Norfolk world captured in words by their great-great aunt.

Notebooks containing folk songs written by Christobel (Kit) Hood, nee Hoare.PHOTO: Nick Butcher

Notebooks containing folk songs written by Christobel (Kit) Hood, nee Hoare.PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

Bertie Anderson-Haggart was born and grew up in the same house, opposite Sidestrand Church, near Cromer, that had been the home of her late relative, local historian Christobel 'Kit' Hood (1886-1960).

Bertie was used to seeing Kit's leather-bound notebooks lying around, filled with the hand-written words of folk songs and stories gathered in the fields from the men and women who worked on the surrounding land before the First World War.

London journalist Clement Scott was later to visit and fall in love with the same area, dubbing it Poppyland and bringing it national fame.

Bertie wanted to commemorate the joy of Poppyland history and has written music for Kit's recorded lyrics.

Notebooks containing folk songs recorded by Christobel (Kit) Hood, nee Hoare. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

Notebooks containing folk songs recorded by Christobel (Kit) Hood, nee Hoare. PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher


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She will sing them on Sunday, October 23 at 3pm, with her sister Evie Anderson, and their professional musician friends from London: violinist Anne-Marie Kirby, cellist Rhiannon Lock, and Emma Price on flute and accordion.

The performance, Bertie and the Bandits, Poppyland Songs, will be held at Templewood, Frogshall, Northrepps NR27 0LJ and will open both the new season of Cromer Music Evenings and the Coast Arts Festival.

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The songs include tales of the Maid of the Mill, Louie Jermy, the elegant daughter of the Overstrand miller; Sally Bean, the local gin smugglers' favourite moll; the Mundesley shepherd's ode to the Mun Beck river, and the extraordinary story of Sidestrand Church being moved inland by Kit's father, Norwich MP Sir Samuel Hoare, leaving only the medieval tower to its fate on the cliff edge.

The story was recorded by Kit and the tower also became Clement Scott's 'Garden of Sleep', with poppies growing where its graveyard was tumbling over the cliff edge.

The concert's sweep takes in the collapsing tower and the First World War - and a way of life lost forever.

? Sisters Bertie and Evie's first music lessons were with Cromer postman Terry Keeler on piano, and Bertie learned violin with Norman Moor when she was four years old.

They both attended Overstrand Belfry Primary School before receiving scholarships to the Purcell Music School, and the Royal College of Music and Birmingham University.

Bertie is currently musical arranger, voice and viola player in the BeauBowBelles band and the Bowjangles string quartet. Her daughter is, fittingly, called Poppy.

Evie has returned from London to teach singing and music in and around Cromer and is voice coach for the Sheringham Little Theatre productions.

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