Literary Norfolk Header and Logo

Wiggenhall St. Mary Magdalen

Wiggenhall St. Mary Magdalen lies on the River Great Ouse - seven miles south of King's Lynn.

Wiggenhall St. Mary Magdalen Sign

Wggenhall St. Mary Magdalen Sign

The River Great Ouse

River Great Ouse at Wiggenhall St Mary Magdalen

In 1983 the poet George MacBeth (1932-92) moved into St. Mary's Hall in the village with his wife, the novelist, Lisa St Aubin de Terán. The hall, which is an imposing property with chimneys and constellations lies on the outskirts of Magdalen (as it is known locally). The couple moved here from the equally flat land of the Bure marshes at Oby - where they had renovated the old rectory. They had recently had a son together - Alexander Morton George MacBeth.

St Mary's Hall was another major renovation project - however, their marriage was a beginning to unravel and St Aubin, who found the fenland landscape particularly depressing, began to see the project as a burden. She records her feelings in her autobiography Off The Rails (1989):

'For almost two years I had looked out across the bleak flatlands of the Fens, watching the bare treeless expanses of clay mud peppered only by scattered bungalows and the distant glint of the sugar factory chimney. It seemed ironic that I, who had once been the Queen of the Andes, with my endless miles of sugar-cane and the tallest chimney in the state, should have come to fester in the long shadow of a steel sugar-beet plant.'

The sugar beet factory she is referring to is the one at Saddlebow near King's Lynn. This area of land by the River Great Ouse is now also home to the King's Lynn power station and the massive new Palm Paper factory.

After a few years at Magdalen their marriage finally collapsed and St Aubin headed back to Italy. MacBeth remarried and moved to Tuam in County Galway, Ireland where he died in 1992 - suffering from motor neurone disease.

St. Mary's Hall was, nevertheless, the venue for a number of literary parties attended by the likes of Malcolm Bradbury.

More photographs of Wiggenhall St Mary Magdalen




Supported by Norfolk County Council logoSupported by Norfolk Tourism


Home | About Us | Advertise on Literary Norfolk

©Cameron Self 2007-2014                                                                                                                Hosted by UK Web.Solutions Direct