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Chapel of St Edmund, Hunstanton
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St Edmund, Hunstanton
In the 1960s, when I was barely more than a babe on my mother's knee, Hunstanton was the nearest proper seaside place to where we lived. Although still a good 50 miles from Cambridge, it had a railway station, and by changing at Kings Lynn you could reach one from the other in a little over an hour and a half. Hunstanton, in the summer months, was Cambridgeshire-by-the-sea. Somewhat cut off from the rest of Norfolk, it was taken over by the Family, and it came as no surprise to bump into someone from the next street on the estate, or a cousin from the Fens.
No more. The railway closed in 1970, and the A45 made it as easy to get to Clacton or Yarmouth. I don't suppose Hunstanton misses us much. It seemed lively enough when we popped in at six o'clock on Saturday afternoon to find a bank machine.
We hadn't planned to come here. We were staying at Thornham, and the plan was to explore all points east of there. But Burnham Market, although it can furnish you with a yachting top, a pair of designer shoes and a mean radiccio salad, ain't got a bank machine.
On the way in we passed this little ruin, which I remembered seeing on the clifftop as a child. I don't think I'd ever been close to it before. It is generally referred to as the Chapel of St Edmund, although it may well have been a parish church. Although it now stands at the northern tip of Hunstanton, it originally would have been south of what we now call Old Hunstanton. It existed in 1272 but was already a ruin by the Reformation.
What survives is basically the south doorway, apparently Norman. You can make out the outline of the south wall of nave and chancel. It was ll made thoroughly safe in the late 1980s, and sits in the middle of a little garden.
More dramatic is the lighthouse beyond it. I tried taking the photograph with the lighthouse beside the ruin, and then with the lighthouse through the south doorway, and then with the lighthouse standing up dramatically behind it. I even tried airbrushing it out of one photograph, but that just looked silly.
I still can't decide which should be the main photograph. What do you think?
Simon Knott, May 2005
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