From 'Norfolk' by William Dutt (pages 81& 82)

'By the Wild North Sea'

But it will not do to stray too far from the coast at the commencement of your tour, so you will do well to return to it by way of Winterton, a village gaining favour among people of quiet tastes owing to its splendid beach and secluded position. You soon find yourself in the midst of a district which within the last few years has experienced disastrous inroads of the sea. To the north of Winterton, at a place known as Horsey Gap, there is a weak spot in the sandhill bastions which protect the coast. Here the sea has several times swept in and inundated the adjoining lowlands. As long ago as 1287 the surrounding hamlets were subject to such floods and encroachments, for in the chronicles of John of Oxnead we read that in that year, "in the month of December, the seventh of the Kalends of January, the 8th day of the moon, the sea, in dense darkness, began to be agitated by the violence of the wind, and in its agitation to burst through its accustomed limits, occupying towns, fields, and other places adjacent to the coast, and inundating parts which no age in past times had recorded to have seen covered with sea-water. For, issuing forth about the middle of the night, it suffocated or drowned men and women sleeping in their beds, with infants in their cradles, and all kinds of cattle and freshwater fishes ; and it tore up houses from their foundations with all they contained, and carried them away, and threw them into the sea with irrevocable damage. Many when surrounded by the waters sought a place of refuge by mounting into trees, but benumbed by the cold they were overtaken by the water and fell into it and were drowned.

Whereby it happened that in the town of Hyckelingge nine score of different ages and sizes perished in the aforesaid inundation." Again in 16o8, according to Blomfield, a great breach occurred between Winterton and Waxham, through which the sea flowed at every flood tide, overflowing many thousand acres of marsh, and seriously damaging the fresh-water fisheries even so far inland as Norwich. In i178 i and 179 1 there were repetitions of these disasters ; but after that there were no serious breaches until November 1897, when between Winterton and Palling, and also at Cley and Salthouse beyond Cromer, great damage was done by rough seas and unusually high tides again causing the coast walls to give way. At Horsey the sea swept through the sandhills, drowning a large number of rabbits which had their burrows there. A native of the district who saw the sea come in, said afterwards, " It was pitiful to see 'em clamber for the higher holes and then, when the water came in, jump clean up a good yard or more. Then they struggled against the wash a minute, but were toppled over and swept on to death amongst the rubbage. Some went tumbling down the cliff front (he called the sandhills cliffs) as their burrows were halved by the sea, then scrambled up again, to be licked off by the waves that broke upon them-and down with marrums, faggots, and sand they went into the boiling waters below." From 150,000 to aoo,ooo tons of sea-water were subsequently pumped off the adjoining marshes. At Eccles, a parish of which only a few acres are now left, the church tower could until recently be seen standing forlorn on the beach, but it has now fallen, and is likely to be soon hidden by the sand or the sea.

While in this neighbourhood you should not fail to see the deserted Hall at Waxham ; but the remains of the Austin Priory there are so few as to be scarcely worth a visit.