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27 November 2014

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Made In England

You are in: Suffolk > Made In England > Esther Freud

Overhead view of Walberswick and SOS on the beach

Human SOS on the beach by Mike Page.

Esther Freud

In April 2008 campaigners were filling sandbags on Walberswick quay and firming defences on the Blyth estuary because of coastal erosion and a lack of protection from the sea. On the beach they've planted marram grasses to help save the sand dunes.

Landscape inspired

Born in London, Esther Freud's father is the artist Lucian Freud and her great-grandfather was the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. She has a home in the Blyth estuary.

The books that she has written are Hideous Kinky which was made into a film with Kate Winslet in the starring role. She has also published Peerless Flats (1993) Gaglow (1997), The Wild (2000), The Sea House (2003) and Love Falls (2007).

She writes in an autobiographical way, although she changes the facts from time to time to allow her creativity to flow. She is inspired by the Suffolk coastline and her book The Sea House is set in Southwold.

Coastal erosion

'Suffolk - My place' tells the poignant story about the Southwold community forming a human chain on the beach at Walberswick in the shape of SOS - Save Our Seashore in February 2008.

In the essay, Esther has written that the money DEFRA has given the cause should be used to: "maintain the shingle ridge, repair the breaches, or in a few years' time it will cost 20 or 30 times that to raise the A12 when the road gets washed away at Blythburgh."

Newly planted Marram grasses

Marram grass seeds growing, Walberswick

The government Environment Agency has decided to withdraw funding for some coastal defences in the East of England over the next 20 years. The Environment Agency said: "We deal more with the long-term solution to the problem.

"Owing to climate changes and the rise in sea-level, the mending of the breaches in the shingle ridges is going to only be a temporary solution.

"We do understand that the local community are concerned about our proposals on the Blyth estuary, which are to withdraw maintenance from uneconomic defences whilst continuing to maintain other defences for up to 20 years.

"We have very finite funds made available to us and we have to ensure that this public money is used widely to provide the most benefit to people and property.

"Regarding the recent temporary repairs to the main Tinkers Marsh breach, we have provided materials and advice. Additionally, once the marsh has drained, we are looking to complete these temporary repairs with on site machinery.  This will allow our work to be completed at Palmer’s Bridge to provide flood protection to properties in Walberswick."

River Blyth flooded

River Blyth

Rich and famous residents

But saving the homes and the community is a real issue. Walberswick has attracted a wealth of celebrity from London.

Esther and her husband David Morrissey aren't the only ones to set up a second home in the Suffolk coastal village. Cousin Emma and her husband Richard Curtis having bought a fisherman's hut for £400,000 in 2004.

House prices have risen astronomically over the past ten years to the extent that in spring 2008 the seaside resort was among the top 50 most expensive places to live in the UK. A beach hut can cost £50,000.

The mayor of Southwold, Teresa Baggott said: "Southwold's popularity can be seen two ways - one, it's a compliment that people want to own a property in our town, but on the other hand it's heartbreaking for the families who have always lived here and want to stay but can't due to the ridiculously high prices."

Walberswick was first recognised as an attraction to Londoners back in 1880. A poem appeared in a Punch magazine at that time:

"O Walberswick's a village of very little tillage.

In the northern part of Suffolk, and it's very picturesque.

Walberswick village

Walberswick village

And you fly from all the gritty, dirty by-ways of the City.

To forget, in pleasant rambles, dreary duties at the desk".

Art and the changing landscape

Freud's essay is a great example of how the landscape can inspire art work. I particularly like the ending where she writes:

"'Wave!' someone shouts and the helicopter roars in above us, circling, as we wave our arms frantically and squint into the sun."

It is to be remembered that the waves crashing on the East coast of England are made in Suffolk too.

last updated: 06/05/2008 at 15:42
created: 06/05/2008

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