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Yaxham

Yaxham is a pretty village which lies 2 miles south of Dereham.

It has a number of connections with the poet William Cowper and he is featured on the village sign. The original sign was carved by Harry Carter but the present one is a replica.

Yaxham Village Sign

Yaxham Village Sign Depicting William Cowper

 

St. Peter's Church, Yaxham

St. Peter's Church, Yaxham

The Revd. John 'Johnnie' Johnson was the rector of St. Peter's church for 36 years until his death in 1833. Johnson was Cowper's cousin and when the poet moved to Norfolk in 1795 Johnson found him accommodation at Dereham and Mundesley. He also arranged for him to stay briefly at Little Dunham Lodge. Cowper moved to Norfolk from Olney in Buckinghamshire - bringing with him his companion Mary Unwin. Cowper and Mary Unwin are both buried at St. Nicholas' church in Dereham.

Inside Yaxham church there is a memorial to Johnson which bears the inscription: ' the beloved kinsman and tried friend of the poet Cowper'. After Cowper's death, Johnson's family became known as 'Cowper Johnson'.

Memorial to Revd. John Johnson

Yaxham also has another literary link which, this time, involves the novelist John Cowper Powys. Powys used to spend holidays in the old rectory with his grandfather. The rectory, now called Yaxham House, was designed by Robert Lugar and lies just behind the church. Powys' was also related to Cowper on his mother's side - through the Donne family - who could also boast John Donne as an ancestor.
 

 

 

 

 

 

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