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Sheringham lies on the North Norfolk coast between Weybourne and West Runton. Originally it was a small fishing community - but after the railway arrived in the late 19th Century it flourished as a holiday resort.

Martincross, Sheringham

Martincross, Sheringham

Patrick Hamilton (1904-62)

The playwright and novelist Patrick Hamilton lived in the town for many years. He was famous for his play Rope which was later filmed by Alfred Hitchcock and for novels such as The Slaves of Solitude, Hangover Square and 20,000 Streets Under the Sky.

Patrick Hamilton

However, by the end of his life his work had fallen out of fashion and his drink problem had become critical. He died on September 23, 1962 from cirrhosis of the liver (aged 58) in a flat at Martincross on the corner of the Boulevard and St. Nicholas Place - which he shared with his wife Lady Ursula Chetwynd-Talbot (also known as 'La'). She recorded in her journal:

'I got into a dressing gown, listened to P's breathing, then went into the kitchen, snatched a biscuit and cheese, washed up the tea, too tensed to sit and do nothing, then went to listen to P. again - there was silence.'

He was cremated and his ashes were scattered at Blakeney. J. B. Priestley described him as 'an unhappy man who needed whiskey as a car needs petrol'. 

In 1919, the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams lived and worked at Martincross; it was here that he wrote his 'Sea Symphony'.

Stephen Spender (1909-95)

The poet Stephen Spender (1909-1995) used to spend his holidays in Sheringham. His family leased a house on the cliffs here called 'The Bluff' and Spender was greatly inspired by the nature and landscape of the area.

Stephen Spender

Stephen Spender

He recalls it fondly in his autobiography World Within World (1953):

'We lived at Sheringham in Norfolk, where we had a house at the extreme edge of the town on the cliffs and adjoining fields. My childhood was the nature I remember: the thickness of the grass in the pasture fields, amongst whose roots were to be found heartsease (the small pansies which are the colour of the iris in a golden eye), speedwell of a blue as intense as a bead of sky. There were scabious and cornflower and waving grasses and bracken which came as high as my shoulders.'

Later he attended Gresham's School near Holt - where W.H. Auden was also a pupil.

Magdalen Goffin (1925 -

Another literary 'shannock' is the biographer Magdalen Goffin who was born in the town. In 2006 she published a biography of her father E.I. Watkin entitled: The Watkin Path - An Approach to Belief. Watkin, who was a influential theologian and historian, designed and built his own house in the town (St. Mary's) - which still stands today. She had previously written a biography of her grand mother Maria Pasqua - who was taken from Italy by her father on a tour of Europe and subsequently inspired painters in Paris before being 'bought' by an English Countess. Maria later married a Norfolk doctor called Philip Shepheard and lived at both Gayton and Erpingham.

Allan Smethurst (1927-200)

Sheringham was also the childhood home of Allan Smethurst - aka the Singing Postman. He lived at 48, Cliff Road for many years and, later in life, received a three year probation sentence for banging on the door of the house while drunk and refusing to leave.

Trains etc

The Great Eastern Railway Line, which opened in 1883, brought many Victorians to the North Norfolk coast - including Clement Scott. Scott, who was a theatre critic and writer, helped to popularise the area by referring to it as 'Poppyland'. The Sheringham to Holt section of the line was closed during the Beeching cuts of the 1960s - but was reopened by volunteers in 1975. It is now commonly known as 'The Poppy Line' - although poppies are less evident these days due to the use of modern herbicides.



More photographs of Sheringham





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