Mattishall lies five miles south-east of
Dereham - just off the A47.
at South Green, was once the home of Anne Bodham -
who was the cousin of the poet William Cowper. In his
final years in Norfolk Cowper visited the house
frequently - especially while he was living at North
It was Anne Bodham who sent Cowper the miniature portrait of his mother which inspired his well known
On Receipt of My Mother's Picture Out of Norfolk.
Anne Donne died when Cowper was only six years old and
the event had a profound affect on his life. The poem begins:
Oh, that those lips had language!
Life has pass'd
With me but roughly since I heard thee last.
Those lips are thine - thy own sweet smiles I see,
The same that oft in childhood solaced me;
Voice only fails, else, how distinct they say,
'Grieve not, my child, chase all they fears away!'
Here is a portrait of Cowper's mother:
Ann Donne - Cowper's
The Donnes were a Norfolk family and
Cowper often stayed with his uncle Roger Donne at
Catfield rectory when he was a boy. Cowper's poem to his
mother is one of his finest pieces: full of emotion and
yet employing the natural rhythms of speech. Here is
another famous section:
I heard the bell toll'd on thy burial day,
I saw the hearse that bore thee slow away,
And, turning from my nurs'ry window, drew
A long, long sigh, and wept a last adieu!
Parson Woodforde, who lived at nearby
Weston Longville, used to attend social events hosted by
the Bodham family at Mattishall Hall. (Bodham was Anne's
married name.) He would normally travel across on
horseback and the location is frequently mentioned in his famous diary.