1953 Flood: Cley Letter by Margaret Spurrell

This letter was written by Margaret Spurrell on 13th February 1953 about her experience of the 1953 flood in Cley-next-the-Sea.

The letter was sent to her nephew, David Mitchell.


Cley Floods 1953

The Bath House

Feb 13th ‘53

My dear David

Thank you so much for your letter, I am sorry you have all been stricken with the flu & hope you are feeling better.

Alas, am afraid I have not got very good news for you about my cottage – it was almost completely destroyed by the flood – walls & fences all gone – my car a complete wreck & under water for 4 days [under] the garage lying on top of it – I was very lucky to escape with my life – The sea burst in (all the sea banks broke from Blakeney to Salthouse) at about 7 pm – I just had time to get upstairs and managed to get up in the roof through the trap door in the bathroom ceiling with the 2 dogs – with no ladder & carrying a 40lb bull terrier it was rather a job – There we remained with 12ft of water under us & all the beds & things floating round – when the main chimney crashed & I heard the outside sheds go I rather thought my last hour had come as the whole house rocked – However by 4am the water had gone down a bit & I tied my sheets together in a rope & gingerly lowered myself from the bedroom window into the icy water & floundered to dry land & across country to a cottage where I got a man with a ladder & we floundered back again & got the dogs out – It was the most ghastly night of my life & I was my lucky not to have been drowned – the poor woman in the cottage down the road was as she hadn’t the time to get upstairs – It gives you some idea of the force & magnitude of the water when I tell you that my kennels, garden shed & hens house were found nearly a mile up the valley at Glandford the next village!! – The devastation at Cley & Salthouse is simply appalling with just the Shells of houses standing & every garden wall knocked flat – Mercifully I was insured for flood so shall get something although nothing like the full value of most of my possessions that were ruined or swept away – most of the poor people round about weren’t insured at all – Thanks to the incredible kindness & hard work of my friends & family we have cleared the house entirely, except for a few hundred books lying in a foot or so of mud – I have been lent an old car too & am really very lucky all round – Lilias is letting me put the remains of my furniture in her cottage over the way, here until I have had time to collect myself & make plans – am rather off houses & the sea at the moment!!

Most of the trees near the house were knocked over or washed away & am afraid the salt water won’t improve the rest. However – I’m lucky to be alive — & that’s all that matters – these upsets no doubt correct the perspective & are an antidote to getting too house proud & fond of a place!

I have been meaning to write to you all this week but have been so busy & overwhelmed with letters & kind inquiries I simply haven’t had a moment – It will save me another letter if you will be so kind as to retail all this depressing news to your mother for me! Hope she will soon pick up again after this wretched ‘flu – Much love

Marg —