It was once a flourishing coastal resort
Mentioned in the Domesday survey,
With a toll on every fishing boat
That washed its nets within the village boundary.
Never a stranger to North Sea outrages,
The village crept further into the land
With frequent flooding of its simple cottages,
A scant scattering you could count on one hand.
One night in the teeth of a terrifying tempest,
Two thousand acres were consumed by the sea:
Marsh, farmland, buildings and forest,
And most of the villagers swept away
With the main body of the parish church,
Leaving the disembodied belfry,
A silent guardian, a precarious seabird’s perch
Looming over the devastating scene.
By the end of the nineteenth century,
The overthrown church walls were exposed to view:
The tower had shifted out of the brine,
Several graves were washed open too,
With bleached bones floating on the tide.
Pleasure steamers brought visitors,
To view the solitary tower,
Sea-battered, crumbling and sinister,
Until it met its final hour,
Brought down one night by a forceful gale.
Violent waves broke with thunder,
Bombarding the structure
With spray and timber
From broken breakwaters –
But no one saw it fall
And the next day
There was nothing left at all.
Except some evenings,
When all is still,
You can hear the tolling
Of the church bell.
© Kim M. Russell, 2016
Eccles on Sea, the remains of the church tower on the beach, 1877 | by Picture Norfolk found on www.flickr.com