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Beeston Regis

Beeston Regis lies on the North Norfolk coast between Sheringham and West Runton. It's famous for its hill (Beeston Bump) - which saw service in World War II as a signals intelligence location - for All Saints Church which stands on the edge of a large caravan park and for the remains of an Augustinian Priory.

Beeston Bump

Beeston Bump

According to legend, Beeston Bump is also the lair of Black Shuck - a terrifying black hound with fiery-red eyes - who occasionally prowls the hills of North Norfolk and whose appearance, for the unlucky viewer, is a pre-cursor for death. The legend of Black Shuck undoubtedly affected Sir Arthur Conan Doyle when he visited the area in 1901 for a golfing holiday. He stayed at the Royal Links Hotel in Cromer and went to dinner with Benjamin Bond Cabbell at Cromer Hall who is thought to have planted the seed of an ancient family afflicted by a terrible curse - which inspired  Conan Doyle to write one of his most gripping Sherlock Holmes adventures ever - namely The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Another writer who visited this part of the North Norfolk coast was the Australian poet Francis Webb (1925-73). He was a patient at the David Rice Hospital in Drayton from 1956-1960 but was allowed out on certain therapeutic visits. Webb wrote a number of poems about Norfolk including  one entitled Beeston Regis - a challenging piece which reaches a delightful conclusion when it focuses upon Beeston priory and the monks who used to worship here:
 

Saxon, Norman, the Priory has answered
Time and wind and space, come into ruins
Lovingly, crumbled, O tumbled zealously.
The Mass, or cantata of wind in the tall stones.
And space between:
Dust is the silent labours of the men in their long robes,
But they are here, they move,
Genuflect, tell their beads in the dancing light,
They are risen, they rise.
Walls, mankind, yes something of hungry earth
Melt into everlastingness, which is this hour.

In the arising is the Calvary,
And the beauty of the passing.

Webb left England in 1960 and returned to Australia - taking all of his poems with him. Fortunately his Norfolk connection has recently come to light thanks to the Australian academic Dr Toby Davidson - who contacted this website.
 
Links:

Francis Webb: Norfolk Location Photographs

More Norfolk Sherlock Holmes photos

 

 

 

 

 

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