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Pocahontas, a Mulberry and the Norfolk Farmer

Pocahontas, a Mulberry and the Norfolk Farmer

Heacham Manor

Which famous woman links the ancient seaside village of Heacham in Norfolk with Jamestown, Virginia in America? She has several names including Matoaka, Princess Matoika and Rebecca Rolfe. But you might know her as Pocahontas.

Known for saving the life of captured English adventurer Captain John Smith in 1607, this favourite daughter of Chief Powhatan later married John Rolfe, a gentleman farmer from Heacham. A spirited young woman – Pocahontas means ‘little mischief’ – what must she have made of John’s Norfolk home when she came to stay here in 1616?

It’s said she planted the mulberry tree still standing in the grounds of Heacham Manor (now a hotel) from seeds brought from the homeland she never saw again. After 10 months in England, on the eve of sailing home to Virginia, she died at Gravesend aged 20. Her story was told in the Disney movie, a controversial version of the myth that’s kept Pocahontas alive in our minds for centuries. Romanticised perhaps, yet the real Pocahontas has become a symbol for peace and goodwill between cultures, celebrated by a memorial in Heacham village church.

The circular walk from Heacham seafront follows the footsteps of America’s early English settlers, which is why there’s a waterfront city in Virginia, USA called Norfolk. The area’s scattered with places named after King’s Lynn, like the Lynnhaven River whose waters flow into the Chesapeake Bay and merge with Atlantic Ocean tides which once carried a peace loving Princess to Heacham.


Heacham Manor Hotel, Hunstanton Road, Heacham, Nr Hunstanton, Norfolk, PE31 7JX


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