I spent summer holidays as a boy staying with my Grandparents : Arthur & Stella Mann and I regard it as my spiritual home. My Grandfathers' brother & sister, who were Edmund & Doris, lived in a cottage "under the hill" opposite the beach road, I believe that at one time it was named Umtata which would have been as a consequence of 19th century ancestors who were master mariners working for Bullard,King & Co who sailed a direct service to the Natal.
I believe there was a connection between the Cley families of Mann & Lewis & possibly Sands as they were all Master Mariners(there is a picture of them in the scholarly work entitled "The Glaven Ports" by Jonathan Hooton which I highly recommend to those who are interested in the detailed history of Cley, Blakeney & Wiveton.
I would be delighted if anybody with a similar interest had any information, correspondence, or old photographs of Cley (particularly the inhabitants)which they would like to make available as I am keen to learn as much as I can about my Mother's family and Cley and document it if I possibly can.
I would also be interetsed if anybody had recollections of a lovely man who had a wooden leg and a donkey cart from which he sold vegetables that he had grown, I think his name was John?
The marshes seem to me much changed in their character from when my Grandfather used to guide me through the creeks picking samphire in July or down to the little concrete bridge, close to the windmill, to bab for eels on the flooding tide.
Cley is indeed a special place.

Added: October 1, 2008
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Visited Cley last August and promised myself we would return. Well we have just had another wonderful weeks holiday in the area.We love it and are hoping to return again next year. I have to say though, I do agree that it would be useful to have a genearl store and PO in the village.PS Love the website!

Admin reply: We'd all find it useful too but there's no chance of a PO and with 50% of Cley homes empty most of the time there's not much chance of a shop either sadly.

Thanks for signing the guestbook and glad you enjoyed your holiday

Added: August 31, 2008
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My wife and I have been regulars at Cley/Blakeney since our children were small which is approx 25 years.
They've left home now but my wife and I still visit the area regularly being fortunate enough to be retired, well my wife's retired and I'm semi retired. This year alone we've had at least 5 holidays in Cley or Blakeney staying 3 times at The George ( the last time introducing even more friends to the area ), once at the Wiveton Bell and once, just recently, when we rented a cottage to treat our daughter, husband and child, to a holiday. With the economy being as it is they're finding it tough out there as are many youngsters.
We rented the cottage, in Blakeney,because The George and White Horse were fully booked.
We always support local businesses. Cookes,The Windmill, the deli, The White Horse, local artists, the boat trips and The George of course, plus many, many more. We're not wealthy but we're pleased to have the opportunity to support them.
We don't confine our visits to the summer months either infact we prefer the area in the late autumn/winter periods when it's quieter and the scenery more dramatic.
We usually park the car up for the whole holiday and either walk ( we're keen birdwatchers )or catch the coast hopper.
So, it becomes obvious we love the area and to be honest it now feels more like home than home. It would probably work out cheaper for us to move there considering the amount of money we spend on accomodation!
All good upto now but things took a very sad and disappointing downturn on our recent visit when we were staying in Blakeney and I'd like to warn anyone visiting there in the future.I'll keep it brief and hope this will taken as constructive criticism.
We were staying in a cottage off High Street which is very narrow. We couldn't pull our 2 cars into the loke ( is that what they're called? ) to unload our luggage so we drove 30 yds up past the deli to the public car park on the left.The first section was full, not surprising considering it was a busy Sunday afternoon and it only holds about 20 cars, so we moved up into the second section which had lots of spaces, and started to unload our luggage and carry it down the hill to the cottage. Our daughter, who is 7 months pregnant, stayed with the vehicles. After 3 trips my wife noticed a sign pointing out it was a residents only car park so we obviously had to move the cars. We took the remaining luggage out,locked the cars, and went to drop off the last of our cases. Myself and son in law then started walking back to the car park to remove our cars. We'd been gone 5/6 minutes absolute maximum so we were horrified to find we'd been issued 2 parking tickets, a total cost of £170
and no sign of the person that issued the tickets.
A local chap came over and apologised for " an outrageous welcome to our village " implying he'd seen the whole thing unfold and suggested we speak immediately to the owner of the cottage to suggest contacting the local clerk to see about getting the fines waived. This we did but without any joy.I've appealed to the ticket issuing people, no joy, I've appealed to the clerk of the Parish Council for help. No reply.
This episode upset us, my wife particularly, and has left a sour taste so much so that we've cancelled our plans for a family re union there in November a sad situation for us and not helpful for local businesses.
I understand completely the problems residents must have with inconsiderate parking and arrogant visitors who think they can do what they want when and where they want, indeed, we abhor those type of people as much as anyone which is probably why we're taking this so personally.We don't want to be tarred with the same brush.
This was a genuine mistake and thankfully we didn't inconvenience any locals, moving the vehicles within minutes of realising we shouldn't have been there however I think the people that issue the tickets should be given instuctions to allow a few extra minutes " just in case " in an area such as this where space for visitors unloading luggage is hard to find.
So, visitors watch out and businesses please be aware that this degree of keeness, by a non local company that doesn't consider how it's actions affect repeat customers, can put people off coming back as it has, sadly, with us.
I hope something happens soon to restore our faith and we can carry on enjoying your beautiful villages but in the meantime thank you to everyone in the area that's made our visits so special over the years and Rebecca, thanks for the samphire! Delicious as usual.

Admin reply: Sorry to hear about your problems in Blakeney, the whole area does suffer somewhat from traffic problems as you've seen other than offering my condolences (similar has happened to me before elsewhere) I can only suggest that the reason you may not have had a reply from the clerk is they are away on holiday and also suggest that you consider putting the whole thing before the parking ombudsman and letting them rule on it.

I hope this incident has not put you off returning in the future

Added: August 19, 2008
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I hope that these thoughts can be directed to whoever is responsible for overseeing the shingle beach at Cley.

I tried to take children swimming there yesterday. It was a nerve-racking experience because there were a a lot of fishermen with long lines arrayed along the beach, leaving little or no space for people to swim safely without the danger of getting caught up in the fishermen's lines. Could one area (say to the east of the car park) tbe zoned for fishing, and another separate area be zoned for swimmers?

Alan Findlay

Added: July 31, 2008
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Having a fondness for Cley, I thought I would leave this note. I was born in Blakeney and moved to Cley at one year old, when my father built a house for is ever growing family. My parents still live in Cley - probably two of the oldest living locals left. Lets face it, everyone else is from out of town. I get so upset when I visit now, it's not the lovely village I grew up in, the school has closed, the butchers has closed, the local supermarket has closed, the post office has gone, the petrol station and garage has gone. It's becoing ever difficult for them to get their pension, a newspaper or any basic thing that they might need. What do we have instead, a pottery, numerous art shops,tea shops, a deli (my parents wouldn't know what to do with sun dried tomato bread or feta cheese with olives) - nothing much of any use to local people! Where are all the children that I went to school with - well they all had to move away, because there are no jobs and we couldn't afford to buy a house. So while you all visit every year or stay in your second home (maybe one I could have bought had I been able to afford it) think about those local children who grew up there and loved every minute of their rural surroundings. I would do anything to have it back the way it was 35 - 40 years ago.
Mind you, living on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales does has it's compensations - only one draw back, it doesn't have the sea or my family.

Admin reply: It's a problem many tourist traps have had to deal with made even worse with very high house prices versus relatively low wages sadly, thanks for the comments.

Added: July 3, 2008
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I wonder how many folks have been watching the TV programme `Coast`. The most recent one had some good coverage of Cley and interesting comments about its history such as the port and area of commerce in days gone by. Additionally there have been some good aerial footage of Cley in past programmes.

Admin reply: The full length unedited version where they go round the village is excellent well worth a look, in fact well worth buying the series on DVD

Added: June 6, 2008
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I have just read that Lorna Beckett is looking for two houses at Cley next the Sea if she would like to contact me.
Robert Mann

Added: May 29, 2008
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my grandad percy dawson came from here. if anyone has info on dawsons please contact me

Added: May 17, 2008
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My great-grandmother, Florence Thurston was from Cley her parents were Robert Thurston & Thirza Pratt.Whilst I have been able to do quite a bit of research via the internet hopefully one day I will visit Cley and be able to see for myself the houses the family lived in and find more records in the church. Does anyone know anything about the Thurston name in Cley ? Any information would be most welcome.

Added: May 12, 2008
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I am trying to find out all I can about a house in Cley called Umgeni and the cottage next to this called Umtata as the famous war poet Rupert Brooke was staying at the latter when WW1 was declared in 1914 - he was visiting his friends, the poet, Frances Cornford and her husband Francis Cornford [Cambridge professor] who were living/staying at Umgeni.

I'm trying to find out where theses cottages are in Cley as I would love to see them - I don't suppose you know of them?

With best wishes,
Lorna Beckett

Added: May 9, 2008
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