Poppy-Land is the name given to Cromer and its vicinity by the author and drama critic, Clement Scott. Following a short excursion to this ‘pretty watering place’, he was inspired to write a holiday article for The Daily Telegraph. This, published at the end of August 1883, was to be the first of his Poppy-Land Papers, which appeared collectively three years later.
Scott’s enthusiasm for the area was persuasive and the once secluded and peaceful corner of the Norfolk coast soon became a fashionable resort. The honest miller, Alfred Jermy, and his daughter Louie, of whom Scott wrote, became celebrities; their home, Mill House, became a centre for visiting literati; china festooned with poppies, Poppy-Land postcards and even Poppyland Bouquet perfume and soap were eagerly sought souvenirs.
A favourite with the summer visitors was Scott’s poem The Garden of Sleep. It described the graveyard surrounding the lone cliff-top tower at Sidestrand, which toppled over the edge in 1916. The 14th century church, St. Michael’s, to which that tower had been a comparatively new addition, was removed brick-by-brick form its precarious perch to a safer site barely three years before Scott’s first visit there. Scott returned time and again to the forsaken ‘garden’, his special place which over the years became the focal point of the Poppy-Land legend.
Clement Scott died on 25th June 1904 but his influence has survived. The name Poppy-Land, or more often ‘Poppyland’, is still widely used; Cromer’s museum features an exhibit on the author’s life and times; books and pamphlets are available locally and in 1985 the BBC televised a dramatised version of Scott’s connection with the area. Many visitors have looked for copies of the original Poppy-Land book which has long been out of print and extremely difficult to find. The availability of this new addition will solve that problem and provide an appropriate souvenir.