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Mundesley is a charming seaside village which lies on the North Norfolk coast between Paston and Trimingham. The diminutive River Mun enters the North Sea here - passing through Mundesley Mill which, although no longer working, was once the only overshot mill in the county. Mundesley's church -  which is tower-less - is perched perilously close to the cliff edge and may, in time, become another casualty of coastal erosion.

Mundesley Beach

In 1795 the poet William Cowper came to stay with his cousin John Johnson in a house on the High Street. It is now known as 'Cowper House'. At this stage, Cowper was suffering from severe depression and it was hoped that the sea air would help him recover.

Cowper House, Mundesley

Cowper House Mundesley

William Cowper

Unfortunately, however, the air only served to inflame his eyes - as the following letter to Lady Hesketh highlights:

'My walks on the sea-shore have been paid for by swelled and inflamed eyelids, and I now recollect that such was always the condition of mine in the same situation, - a natural effect, I suppose at least upon eyelids so subject to disorder as mine, of the salt spray and cold winds, which on the coast are hardly ever less than violent.'

While staying in Mundesley, Cowper used to walk along the coast to Happisburgh where he visited the Hill House Pub. On one occasion, he also went by boat to see Happisburgh Lighthouse - a journey which may have inspired his late, desolate poem The Castaway. (See also Dereham and Mattishall)

Mundesley was also immortalised in the Singing Postman's best-known song Hev Yew Gotta Loight Boy as it provides the location for his meeting with the cigarette-smoking Molly Windley:

Then one day, she went away, I dunt see har no more,
Till by chance, I see har down along th' Mundesley shore.
She wuz there, twice as fair, would she now be trew?
So when she see me passin' by she say 'I'm glad thass yew,
Hev yew gotta loight, boy? hev yew gotta loight?'
Molly Windley, she smook like a chimley,
But she's my little nicoteen gal.
My own poem, Mundesley, recalls childhood holidays in the village:
We used to walk down the old zig-zag path
To the beach there - loaded down
With wind-breaks and buckets and towels

And set up camp among the concrete blocks
Left over from the last war.
And on that beach, you and I

Would play for hours in the low-tide lagoon,
Pushing our shrimp-nets happily along
Or go off in search of pointed belemnites

That glistened when the tide came in.
And then, late in the afternoon,
After swims between the breakwaters,

We'd return bare-foot to the car -
Its metal still sizzling hot
And in the back seat, we'd half-sleep

As dad drove us back across Norfolk
Under the enormous, dazzling blue skies
Into the gloominess of home.


More photographs of Mundesley





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