In which we uncover the extraordinary life of Winifred Barnes, once a huge star but now almost completely forgotten – except among those few locals who remember being told stories of a wild woman living in a house perched precariously on the edge of a cliff. We explore why this Edwardian singer, actor and comedy performer, a West End leading lady during World One and a sensation of the age, retired mysteriously young and ran away to the seaside at Holywell in Eastbourne, where she and her sister were considered “too racy” for the locals. We search for the ruins of her spectacular home, Emily shouts at Cole not to go too close to the edge and Cole doesn’t listen. Podcast by Emily Jeffery and Cole Moreton.
In which Cole and Emily meet a man who makes supermodels look even better for a living, but who heads for the cliffs in his own time to spot birds as they arrive on their extraordinary journeys from the south reaches of Africa to the green hills of England. Why do they do that? What can you hear? We explore the wonders of nature and the nature of obsession, find out what it’s like to be a twitcher’s girlfriend and get a bit transcendental. Walk with us, chill, listen, wander, wonder …
(If you’ve seen the show Detectorists, it’s a bit like that with wings. Or not.)
Escape in your head by bringing your ears on a gentle, uplifting wander along the coast with us in this special episode of a series that has been highly praised by the likes of Country Living and Radio 4’s Podcast Hour: “I love it. Edge of England always has a Detectorists feel … you get a lovely English countryside sense of having a hug.”
In this episode Cole and Emily explore the beauties and joys of a terrible situation, trying to find something to appreciate and be grateful for in lockdown. We walk the quiet paths and empty golf course and hear the birds sing. And we explore a story set in the stunning landscape of the Belle Tout, Beachy Head and Seven Sisters, this time with added songs. Also available on Spotify, iTunes, Apple Play and wherever you get your podcasts. Welcome to the Edge of England …
For some of this episode we talk about The Light Keeper, Cole’s latest book, a story of love, hope, faith, grief and longing about to come out in paperback and hailed by the likes of Matt Haig and Anthony Horowitz. Sarah, a young teacher, is caught in a terrible moment between having your last go at IVF and finding out if it has worked. She runs away to her special place, the South Downs, pursued desperately by her lover Jack, who thinks she is going to jump. Meanwhile, up on the cliffs is a mysterious man who knows only too well that sometimes love takes you to the edge. We’ll talk about the history and mythology of the real place and hear songs recorded to accompany the story by the band The Light Keepers, written with David Perry (Emily’s other half). who plays our theme.
In which Cole springs a surprise and Emily is astonished to be able to hear the voice of a woman with whom she has become obsessed: Winifred Barnes, beautiful young star of the West End stage during World War One, who gave up her career to live, as an eccentric, on the edge of the cliff at Holywell. Featuring recordings from 1917, rescued and restored by Dominic Combe as part of his Palaeophonics project.
In which we pick up with part two of the remarkable story of Parson Darby, his hole and his life-saving life. Cole and Emily go to find out the truth about this local legend from historian Elizabeth Wright, who reveals a surprising twist in the tale. Why did a young man turn up in France claiming to be the first-born son of the light keeper of Beachy Head? Why are there no records of his birth? What part did this mystery man play in the fight for an independent America? Are his modern relatives right to claim a link back to the tragic, heroic Darbys?
In which we are haunted by a Spitfire yet again, before we go in search of the truth about a local legend. Who was Parson Darby? Where was his famous hole? Why did he sit in a cave in the face of the cliff for hours, day and night in all weathers, shining a light? Did he save lives? Did he die of a broken heart? Was he a smuggler? We fall out over the possibilities, visit his grave then go in search of someone who knows. Another fascinating story from the Edge of England, uncovered and told by award-winning broadcasters Cole Moreton and Emily Jeffery.
Be sure to listen to the next episode for part two and a major twist in the story.
In which we end our first season of the Edge of England podcast by talking about our first impressions of this place and meeting Misgana, who came to the South Coast from Eritrea as a young girl, without really knowing why. It wasn’t easy. Hers is a remarkable, troubled, moving, ultimately inspiring story of what it’s like to find yourself in a strange new place, somehow make your way and ultimately arrive at an unexpected sense of home. Thanks for listening. Edge of England will be back with a new weekly season in the Spring.
In which we listen to the sea, stare at the horizon, walk on the beach and argue about Debussy and his mistress, the Grand Hotel and the Posh Police, the Sovereign Light Platform, the golden haze in the sky and the impossibility of paddle boarding. The mystery of X is revealed and we talk about why we are here. Oh and there’s a ghost. If not two.
This one is all about Eastbourne, the Empress of Watering Holes, a place that is far more beautiful and surprising than you may realise. Come and have a walk with us.