Lost to the Sea

My response to Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Friday Night Music Prompt # 56: The Mary Ellen Carter by Stan Rogers


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

Lost to the Sea

Eccles on Sea, the remains of the church tower on the beach, 1877 | by Picture Norfolk found on  www.flickr.com

13 thoughts on “Lost to the Sea

  1. Excellent story telling! I wondered if there was some “truth” as the pleasure boats and floating bones sounded familiar.
    I do like the idea that the church bell still tolls the hours. What an eerie sound if alone, and in the fog.
    Thank you for participating in the Friday Night Music Prompt “stomp.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s all true! The people who live nearby say you can hear the bell. There are old photographs and postcards of the church tower in the sand. The storms and the damage they did are all recorded. I used to live in the next village along the coast, the remains of the original village that was submerged in the 1950s. The sea has continued to claim stretches of the North Norfolk coastline and I’ve seen it in action – scary but beautifully exciting!


      1. The first winter after I moved up here with my daughter, we were woken in the early hours one Sunday morning by coastguards banging on the door to warn us of possible floods. They told us to dress in warm clothes, take any pets and get to the village hall as quickly as possible. We could hear the storm and watched a stream of villagers going in that direction. But we also saw people going towards the dunes and the lifeboat ramp. So we took our dog and went to watch the storm. The barrier at the top of the ramp was shut, we could see spray flying over it, and there was a police car parked on the ramp. What we didn’t expect was the sea breaching the barrier and tossing the car down the ramp. We climbed the dunes and watched the sea rage until it died down – I still have photos of it!


  2. Oh wow! That was such a vivid picture, and it was powerfully atmospheric and ‘moody’. I especially like the way you trailed it off with onomatopoeia and then the ghostly echo of the church bell. It felt like I was reading a victorian poet…I thought of Tennyson for some reason.

    Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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