Pebbles are beneath, but we stand softly
On them, as on sand, and watch the lacy edge
of the swift sea.
Which patterns and with glorious music the
Sands and round stones — It talks ever
Of new patterns.
And by the cliff-edge, there, the oakwood throws
A shadow deeper to watch what new thing
Happens at the marge.
Ivor Gurney, Selected Poems (edited by George Walter) (J. M. Dent 1996).
I came across this poem last March whilst staying in Tewkesbury. Until then I had wondered about the name of the hotel in Overstrand, north Norfolk, where I had booked to stay a couple of nights last week.
Despite growing up in Norwich just 22 miles south of Overstrand I had never actually visited this neighbouring resort of Cromer.
“Overstrand lies on the North Norfolk coast between Cromer and Sidestrand. It’s name derives from ‘narrow shore with a steep edge’. There is a nice walk along the cliff-top path from Cromer which passes the old lighthouse and the golf course. Like it’s larger neighbour, it was once a genteel Edwardian holiday destination – but today has an air of faded grandeur.
Lord and Lady Battersea had a holiday home called The Pleasaunce built here in 1897. It was designed for them by Sir Edwin Lutyens and hosted a number of literary visitors including Arthur Conan Doyle and George Meredith.
Winston Churchill used to stay at the Sea Marge Hotel in the village and this may have provided the inspiration for Jack Higgins’ novel The Eagle Has Landed – which is set in North Norfolk (see Blakeney) and concerns an attempt by German paratroopers to assassinate the English PM. While in residence Churchill had elaborate arrangements in place with Cromer Post Office in case the grand fleet needed mobilising.” Source
The Sea Marge Hotel, Overstrand
Sea Marge Front
Sea View from The Sea Marge
The Sea Marge Lounge
Gallery overlooking the bar at The Sea Marge
Sir Winston Churchill above the Fireplace in the Winston Room
Pleasuance (now a Christian Retreat and Holiday Centre) Front
Pleasuance Side Entrance
The Methodist Church at Overstrand designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens
The Church Door