Burnham Overy Staithe, St Clement's Church - Kevin Crossley-Holland

Waterslain: ‘Local Historian’ 

Waterslain (an Norfolk dialect word meaning ‘flooded’) is my name for a group of linked villages in north Norfolk, and in 1986 I published a cycle of poems about some of the villagers I’d known since I was a boy. The words of this ‘found’ poem are all taken from Audrey Earle’s booklet, St Clement’s Church, Burnham Overy and arranged so as to suggest continuities and fractures between then and now.

This poem is the copyright of Kevin Crossley-Holland and is reproduced by permission of the Enitharmon Press.

Local Historian

a found poem


A low flat coastline, sand and saltmarsh;

and a streak of light,

bright as fish scales. . .


Up to 100 tons, malt, coal, corn and oil-cake;

the great granaries and maltings

all converted. . .


Ceased to be

cruciform. Mutilated; mutilated;

now form the Brothercross

on the little green below the church.

Squat, crouching tightly;

the wind sweeping in from the sea. . .


Paid for destroying of Jackdaws;

Paid Gam Gregory

for spreading the mould in the churchyard;

Payd to Joseph Bobbit for a Book

which is concerned with distemper which now rages

amongst the horned cattle;

Paid for 12 Jackdoyes (jackdoyes 3 a 1d.) . . .


A very gruesome story:

in the year 1307

William Umphrey, chaplain, and Robert de Orleyns

boarded his ship,

bound his hands behind his back until

the blood gushed out at the nails,

imprisoned him until. . .


As a boy Horatio Nelson;

a short cut through the churchyard;

the headstones bear many names still very familiar-

­Woodget, Parr, Haines, Scoles, Riches, Thompson,

    Mason. . .

Have gone; remain; in spite of; whirlpools;

think; walk; rustles; .



For more information about Kevin’s work visit www.kevincrossley-holland.com

St Clement's Church, Burnham Overy Staithe - NHER 1741

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