Come with us on a walk back in time accompanied by kraken, sea snakes, bowler hats and bones. We start with an astonishing view and an enchanted moment outside the new visitor centre at Beachy Head. Emily and Cole’s guide through millions of years of history is Jo Seaman, heritage expert and story teller, who takes us deep under the sea and high over the cliffs. We dig down through layers of soil to uncover hidden treasures and strange tales connecting the past with the present. Find out why Jo has put down roots on the Edge of England, has his head in the stars, and has developed a special bond with a skeleton. The latest episode of the podcast exploring the fascinating people, places and stories of the South Coast. Let your ears bring you here. For more information on the centre visit The Beachy Head Story.
Today we explore a borderland between the sea and the marshes, fact and fiction, even life and death. Our guide to the windswept shingle beaches, wide skies and curious settlements between Sovereign Harbour and Pevensey Bay in East Sussex is crime fiction writer Sheila Bugler, who is originally from the west of Ireland but now lives close by and has set a mesmerising murder mystery trilogy here. We walk and talk about writing and pursuing our dreams and discover that this strange, beautiful place has some dark secrets in real life too. Come with us with your ears … if you dare! Edge of England is a podcast exploring the stories, people and places of the South Coast, produced by Emily Jeffery and hosted by Emily and Cole Moreton.
Welcome to the first of a new batch of Edge of England episodes, exploring people and place along this curious, glorious stretch of coastline. We kick off season three with a very personal episode inspired by the wellbeing weekend that the lovely people at East Sussex libraries are having for Mental Health Awareness Week. In our first walk together for quite some time, Cole and Emily take a route skirting the very edge of the South Downs above Eastbourne and it all gets quite confessional. Plug in your ears, feel the wind in your hair and come along for a stroll as we reflect on the saving power of nature, big skies, and the mysterious draw of the ‘sky pool’.
We return to the curious life of Parson Darby, whose gravestone says he was the sailor’s friend. Was he a hero? Was he helping the smugglers? Emily and Cole are keen to discover more about the local legend who spent his nights keeping a light alive in a hole in the cliffs near Birling Gap and Beachy Head, so visit historian and writer Elizabeth Wright in today’s episode, recorded on a hot summer’s day in 2019. Elizabeth plays valiant referee to Emily and Cole’s theorising and sparring, defends the parson with passionate eloquence and reveals a surprising twist in the tale, after being contacted by members of a family in the United States who claim to have links to the tragic, heroic Darbys.
Remember those days when you could meet in a friend’s house for a cuppa? Those days will come again. Pop on the kettle and plug your ears in to this this bonus episode where Cole surprises Emily with a special audio gift, further fuelling her obsession with Winifred Barnes, a beautiful young star of the West End stage during World War One. How wonderful to hear her voice, more than a century after she sang. Will we ever know why ‘Wonderful Winnie’ left her glittering career in London, to spend the final years of her too-short life surrounded by birds and animals in a cottage on the edge of the cliff at Holywell in Eastbourne? This episode features recordings from 1917 rescued and restored by Dominic Combe as part of his Palaeophonics project, so a huge thanks to Mr Combe.
Emily and Cole pull back the undergrowth and uncover the extraordinary life of Winifred Barnes, once a huge star but now almost completely forgotten – except among a few locals who remember being told stories of the curious inhabitant of a house perched precariously close to the edge of a cliff. Why did this Edwardian singer, actor and comedy performer, a West End leading lady and sensation of the age, retire mysteriously young and retreat to the seaside at Holywell, where she and her sister were considered “too racy” for the locals?
Sometimes, and only sometimes, the sea is so calm as it tickles the edge of England that the gentle tease and retreat of the waves over the shingle sounds like breathing. Closing your eyes, hearing the repetitive rasp of pebbles and water and feeling the sun on your face can take you to a happy place. A safe place. This is the story of Misgana, who came to the South Coast from Eritrea as a young girl, without really knowing why. The episode is about finding safety. Navigating through unfamiliar territories, new languages, and unexpected and difficult challenges. It’s also about finding a new place to call home.
This episode is about a stroll along the seafront and a bit of a sit down in Eastbourne. Emily and Cole explore their feelings for the town as they wander past regimental railings, day trippers and residents, elegant buildings and quite a lot of pampas grass. But this is a surprising place where grit and intrigue lie just beneath the surface. Throw in some ‘posh police’, a ghost and a bit of Scandi Noir and perhaps you’ll begin to see why we love exploring fascinating stories of people and place down here on the Edge of England.
Let’s also just talk about big skies and sunsets for a moment. There’s been some corkers recently with the added showbiz of starlings in their thousands, their mesmerising murmurations against the back drop of pinky-orange dusks and the golden-topped Pier.
A shiny new edit of an episode of the Edge of England podcast every Saturday during lockdown, with Emily Jeffery and Cole Moreton. Fascinating people, places and stories from the stunning landscape around Beachy Head and the Seven Sisters on the South Coast. This time we visit the beautiful Belle Tout lighthouse, perched (safely) near the edge of a four hundred foot drop.
Owner David Shaw brought the lighthouse back from the edge of ruin, which cost a fortune. Its walls contain tales of a King, a queen and a She-Devil and you’ll hear an alarmingly entertaining story about a lighthouse keeper, madness and murder. But the Belle Tout, a few miles west of Eastbourne, is now a unique and gorgeous bed and breakfast with the most amazing 360 degree views of the sea and the South Downs.
Maybe one day you will be able to come and stay in David’s lighthouse? Get in touch, perhaps we can walk the South Downs together and tackle the rise and fall of the Seven Sisters. Until then, take us with you in your ears wherever you are.
We’re going to put out a shiny new edit of an episode of the Edge of England every Saturday, hoping that by the time we reach the end lockdown will be over and we can make some more. Lots of people have said kind things about the podcast, so why not get away from it all with your lovely ears by coming on a walk with us?
It all begins on a blustery spring day, one of those days that catches you out with eye –stinging, nose-watering coldness, despite the daffodils being out. A conversation in a sea front café between the pier and the bandstand. At one end, taking shelter from the wind, rain and sea spray, is a man who sleeps rough, keeping warm with a steaming coffee thanks to the kindness of the café owner. At the other end of the café, Cole, Emily and Mabel the dog have an amiable argument about work, life, that sort of thing. There are lots of things they never will see eye to eye on, but they are united in the way this part of the world has got under their skin. Taken hold. Taken them by surprise. The Edge of England.
This is a place full of stories. Stories of people and place where the land meets the sea. From the dramatic and crumbling coastline of Beachy Head and the Seven Sisters in Sussex on the south coast of England to the seemingly endless low-lying, under-the-radar expanses of land beyond Eastbourne and the harbour. This is a place that makes you feel something. A place that can change you. This is landscape that changes. From brutal and threatening to curious and welcoming. There are stories to tell here, from the past, and in the present. As story tellers, we decide to try to tell them and explore how we fit into the unfolding story of this place too. So, please come back with us to that blustery spring day and take a walk with us, the first of many, this time up onto the South Downs, and the podcast begins. Thank you for being here and welcome to the Edge of England.