TV historian Lucy Worsley talks about her childhood memories of Cromer Beach in Norfolk, and why she loves a bracing swim in the cold sea. Interview: Alex Reece
Cromer Beach in Norfolk has got its own very special, windswept character, and to me, it’s a special place because my dad, who’s retired now, used to be a professor of physical geography and he would take his students there on field trips. When me and my brother were growing up, we would go as well. I would have been eight, nine, 10.
They were always at Easter, these field trips, so there was a lot of wind and rain and fossil-hunting involved. (The main thing we used to discover, I think, was belemnites, which are long, pointed fossils.) Last October, we all went back and re-created it. Me, my brother and my dad, we were all on Cromer Beach. And this time, as adults, we were all able to go to a pub to warm up – that was quite nice.
Cromer town is a very interesting place in itself. I once had a wonderful evening at the end of the pier show, which I very much enjoyed. I do like that kind of thing – I like singing and dancing and sequins. There’s a National Trust property nearby called Felbrigg Hall and we rented one of the service buildings for a week, which is now a holiday house.
I’m always very glad to go on a seaside jog, if I can manage it. I like swimming in the cold water, too. Last Christmas, me and my brother went into the sea on Boxing Day.
I like the absolutely freezing feeling that makes all the blood race around your body. It gives you a great big thrill.
In my new children’s book, Lady Mary [about the early life of Mary I] – at the point where things are going really badly for her – a plot has been set up so that she will be rescued by ships sent by the Catholic Emperor Charles V to take her away from Britain, and this rendezvous is going to be on the beaches of East Anglia. I’m not sure exactly which beach, but I’d always conceived it as being like Cromer Beach – vast, windy and desolate.
Lucy Worsley's Lady Mary is published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books, £6.99.