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’.
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?
What’s even better than a good walk and talk in the glorious outdoors? Doing it with a new friend who takes us to a new place. When writer and podcaster Giles-Paley-Phillips joins us near his home in Seaford we wander past a row of unit vehicles on location for the film ‘Hope Gap’. It’s now been released on Netflix, so along with our audio ‘pictures’ of this amazing landscape, you can watch the film and see what we’re on about. Despite Emily’s best efforts she didn’t spot Bill Nighy – maybe he’ll agree to be a guest on a future episode. What we did encounter were dazzling white cliffs, a hidden cove, enticing rock pools and a Spitfire. (Watch out for that Spitfire in coming episodes: strangely, it becomes a recurring them). The latest shiny new edit of an episode of Edge of England with Cole Moreton and Emily Jeffery, released each week during lockdown.