The village of Beadnell can be found on the Northumberland coast some two miles south east of Seahouses. It is at first sight a slightly odd settlement, because it comes in two almost completely distinct parts. The main village clusters around St Ebba's Church and Beadnell Hall and lies immediately to the south of the B1340 from Seahouses where the road turns inland from the sea.
Linked to it only by a string of houses and cottages running behind the shore is the almost distinct settlement around Beadnell Harbour and the northern tip of Beadnell Bay, which offers two miles of beautiful sandy beach. Lying behind the northern end of the bay is a caravan park, but it seems that the dunes are just tall enough to screen it from view when seen from Beadnell Harbour. The harbour itself provides shelter for a considerable number of small pleasure craft and a few small fishing boats. The largest vessel on view when we visited was the St Ebba III, tied to the north side of the northern pier and in a very sorry state.
Beadnell Harbour is said to have the only west facing harbour entrance on the east coast of England. From the landward side it is reached via a narrow access road which runs past what has to be Beadnell's most distinctive building, a rough stone and red pantile confection, complete with circular tower, that is as attractive as it is apparently chaotic. This is also a building we found very difficult to date, but which may be relatively modern. Close by is the clubhouse for the Beadnell Yacht Club. A number of other very attractive houses and villas are set along the line of the shore here, though perhaps the most impressive is a little way back towards the main part of the village, the rather oddly named Fraggle Rock Mansion, complete with its very art deco rounded corner.
A clue to the origins of the harbour at Beadnell comes in the form of the large set of limekilns at its inland end. The first of these was built in November 1798 and the idea was to use limestone and coal dug from the estates of local landowner John Wood to produce up to 1,000 cartloads of lime each year. The lime was then dispatched from a harbour built for the purpose to destinations along the eastern side of England and Scotland. This proved so successful that two more limekilns were later built, attached to the first, giving the unusual triple kiln you see today. The kilns and associated mining and quarrying operations seem to have fallen out of use by the mid 1820s. According to at least once source the limekilns were later used for curing herrings.
As you head back round towards the main part of the village, we would recommend taking a slight detour along the foreshore to the narrow promontory known as Ebb's Nook. It is worth watching your step here as parts of the north side of the promontory are eroding badly, and the drop to the rocks on the shore below is a little further than it appears.
Ebb's Nook has been been in use for a very long time. The promontory was visited by Channel 4's Time Team in May 2011 to establish just what was here. What they unearthed confirmed the local belief that it was the site of a chapel dedicated to St Ebba which dates at least as far back as the 1100s, and they also uncovered indications of a possible earlier building suggesting there could have been a place of worship here in the Anglo Saxon era. Each year, on the Sunday closest to St Ebba's Feast Day, August 25, the people of Beadnell and visitors to the area gather on Ebb's Nook to hold an open air service on the site of the chapel.
It is perhaps fitting that the church which today stands in the centre of Beadnell is also dedicated to St Ebba. St Ebba's Church was built in about 1740, and enlarged (and had the tower and spire added) in 1792. A slightly odd feature is the way the main road through the village, known as The Haven, passes immediately along the northern side of the church. On the opposite side of this road is Beadnell Hall, originally built in the late 1600s or early 1700s, but significantly altered and added to in the 1800s, and more recently when being converted into apartments.
A short distance from the church is the Craster Arms Hotel. Much of what you see from the street dates back to the 1700s, though the rear of the building incorporates parts of a medieval tower house. Also close by is the Beadnell Towers Hotel, which has an excellent reputation locally for its food.
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