Overstrand : Narrow shore with a steep edge

Beach at Overstrand

Sea-Marge

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

The Sea Marge Hotel, Overstrand

Sea Marge front

Sea Marge Front

Sea View

Sea View from The Sea Marge

Sea Marge Lounge

The Sea Marge Lounge

Sea Marge Gallery

Gallery overlooking the bar at The Sea Marge

Winston Room

Sir Winston Churchill above the Fireplace in the Winston Room

Pleasaunce front

Pleasuance (now a Christian Retreat and Holiday Centre) Front

Pleasuance entrance

Pleasuance Side Entrance

Side entrance Pleasuance

Pleasuance Entrance

Lutyens church

The Methodist Church at Overstrand designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens

Church door

The Church Door

6 comments on “Overstrand : Narrow shore with a steep edge

  1. Sarah Wrightson says:

    Just beautiful, thank you. I don’t think a American could quite get away with calling her new home Pleasaunce, but it is tempting 🙂 The Sea-Marge Hotel is also very tempting. Someday.

  2. dianabirchall says:

    And Cromer has Jane Austen associations (Emma), so I’ve always wanted to go – and now I want to stay at the Sea Marge! Doesn’t that look inviting. I love you showing me new places! 🙂

    • Yes, I remember she mentions Cromer – I made a quotation in an essay about the railways in Norfolk years ago. You need to take a year here and travel slowly round the country!

  3. nilly hall says:

    I believe the Gurneys of Northrepps Hall used to visit Overstrand. I have, for a while, been trying to find out if there are any Gurney archives – papers, photos & the like – available to do some research. I don’t suppose you know if Norwich has anything like this?

    • I don’t know myself but it would be well worth contacting the Norwich Central Library now housed in the Forum. The local history librarian may be able to help. Although very sadly many valuable documents relating to local history were destroyed in the fire some years ago. Was the bank eventually absorbed into Barclays? They may also have archives. Perhaps you have tried these routes already. Good luck with the research!

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