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Hunstanton

Hunstanton (sometimes pronounced 'Hunstn') lies on the north-west tip of Norfolk overlooking The Wash. It is a popular seaside resort and is known affectionately as 'Sunny Hunny'. It is famous for its layered cliffs (composed of red and white chalk and carrstone) - for the seaweed covered nodules on the beach and for the Old Lighthouse perched on the cliff top.

Cliffs at Hunstanton

The Famous Cliffs

Hunstanton Town Sign

Hunstanton Town Sign

P.G.Wodehouse (1888-1975)

Between the wars P(elham) G(renville) Wodehouse frequently visited his friend Charles Le Strange at Hunstanton Hall and it became an influence for a number of the locations in his comic novels.

P.G. Wodehouse at typewriter

It became Aunt Agatha's country seat Woollam Chersey and the inspiration for the setting for Money for Nothing (1928). The octagon in the garden also featured in Jeeves and the Impending Doom. Norfolk also furnishes the names of many of the colourful characters in the books e.g. Lord Brancaster, Jack Snettisham and J Sheringham Adair.

Hunstanton Hall
Roger Le Strange (1616-1704)

A colourful ancestor of Richard Le Strange, Roger attempted to recapture King's Lynn for King Charles I in 1644. However, he was betrayed and sentenced to death but managed to escape from prison before being executed. He fled to the continent but on his return to England at the time of the restoration of the monarchy, he was placed in charge of all printing machines. He started one of the first ever newspapers, the Public Intelligence and translated Aesop's Fables. He also wrote a stinging attack on the poet John Milton. He died in London aged 88 and was described by his enemies as 'the scandal of a worthy family, who have long been ashamed of him.'
 

L.P. Hartley (1895-1972)

L(eslie) P(oles) Hartley knew Hunstanton and the surrounding area well from childhood holidays and he used it as a setting for The Shrimp and the Anemone (1944) - the first novel in his trilogy. It is at Hunstanton Hall (fictionalised as Anchorstone Hall) that Eustace enters the privileged world of the aristocracy and where he eventually inherits a small fortune.

L.P. Hartley

Here is the sumptuous description of the hall:
 

'Suddenly a great sheet of water opened out before them, and beyond it rose the chimneys and turrets and battlements of Anchorstone Hall. The moon made a faint pathway on the water, but the house was still gilded by the setting son, Eustace was enchanted 'Oh isn't it lovely? If I ever made enough money to buy it, will you come and live with me there Hilda?'


The famous layered cliffs also provide the backdrop for Eustace and Hilda's games on Anchorstone beach.

See also Bradenham.

Patrick Hamilton (1901-1962)

Hamilton's novel Hangover Square opens with George Harvey Bone walking along the cliffs at Hunstanton. There is an intriguing poem about Bone by the local poet Andrew McDonnell who imagines a dream-like meeting with the central character from Hamilton's masterpiece.

 

George Harvey Bone

That summer I spent sleepwalking
through mirror worlds of Norfolk seaside towns
in perpetual gloom, like a filter over a camera lens:
                        in Old Hunstanton
on the cliffs, I sat in the shelter
on the manicured green.

Next to me sat Mr George Harvey-Bone
who had slipped out, he said, from evensong
                 “Where the choir sang like planes
going out across the channel
          and the stain glass showed ruins
          of Coventry cathedral.”  

Funny, I thought
as Harvey-Bone went in ‘39
and has slipped from the pages
            of that book.  

‘I’m looking for Mr Hamilton”
he said, “I want to know why I’m ill
           I heard he’s shooting up in Sheringham
but the dead aren’t allowed on the bus…
           …so I can’t leave old Sunny Hunny.”

             He turned his head towards me
      
  like a shutter coming down on a shop.
Staring out across
        the phosphorescencing Wash
I found myself saying
        that if I bumped into Mr Hamilton
I’d be sure to let him know.


Hamilton lived for many years at Martincross in Sheringham and also spent some time in the 1930s in a cottage in Burnham Overy Staithe living with his first wife Lois.
 
Links:

More Hunstanton Photographs

 

 

 

 

 

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