Seaside Resorts, which followed the bestselling Unwrecked England, was a celebration of the British seaside resort, and saw Candida Lycett Green travel to fifty of the best across England and Wales – from Broadstairs to Bridlington, Southwold to Swanage, Torquay to Tenby. In the spirit of her father, Sir John Betjeman, she captured their essence and revealed the physical beauty, bright and breezy architecture – and humour.


Click here to view an index of all “Seaside Resorts” posts

“Candida Lycett Green’s Seaside Resorts is a celebration of her 50 British favourites and a perfect Christmas present to suit man, woman or child. Who better to be a judge of coastal quality? … Somehow the essence of each resort is conjured so vividly you wish you were there. Architectural highlights and literary connections for each resort are noted but learning is worn lightly and comic insights abound.”

Mary KillenThe Lady, 11 November 2011.

“What a wonderful book … It’s impossible to flip the pages of this lavish top 50 selection of recreational gems without being tempted towards the closest railway station.”

Nicholas Crane, five star review in Countryfile magazine. December 2011.


Tenby, Pembrokeshire


‘You may travel the world over but you will find nothing more beautiful,’ wrote Augustus John about his home town of Tenby in south-west Wales. ‘It is so restful, so colourful and so unspoilt.’ Tenby is impossible to top. However many tourists flood its streets and beaches in summer, it feels easy, settled and quietly assured.


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Aldeburgh, Suffolk


Half of Elizabethan Aldeburgh is under the sea. Walking along the colour-washed High Street, with its mock-Tudor cinema and famous Cragg Sisters tea shop, the waves sound dangerously close at hand. The old Moot Hall, which used to stand in the middle of the town, is now at the sea’s edge, and the adjoining hamlet of Slaughden – to which the characters in Wilkie Collins’ unsung novel No Name would take their walks from Aldeburgh – has disappeared, its odd remnants occasionally visible at low spring tides.


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Jane Gardam writes of   ‘a hard  unhappiness’ hovering over the Iron Coast (a stretch of Yorkshire coastline from the River Tees to Whitby), but there is also a feeling of great strength. The rocks on the edge of Skinninggrove Bearch are stained red with iron ore, the material which gave the area its raison d’etre.  Fromthe nineteenth century onwards there were iron-and steelworks all around here, but they are now no more. The giant mothballed Corus factory stands back from the sea, and a notice stuck on the edge  of a scrappy field reads ‘Quality Horses baught [sic] and sold’. Nowhere could be more different from the tames South Coast. >

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“Torquay is a magic town built of high harbour walls and shining palaces beside the sea,” wrote Nevil Shute in Lonely Road. Today, you only have to blur your vision a little to obscure the odd 1960s block towering awkwardly among the elegant stucco housing, and the magic is still there. Down past the big hotels in Belgrave Road swags of coloured lights stretch between the lampposts all along the seafront, illuminating the Regina Hotel with its elaborate wrought-iron balconies, the Princess Theatre, the harbour full of sailing boats, a most exotic aquarium, and the jaunty Edwardian pavilion with green and white tiles, bandstands on its corners and fountain in its wake. >

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The train from London strikes out through low, unsung Thameside Essex to muddier and marshier places, whelk and jellied eel stalls on the mudflats between the train and the estuary. When you get out at Southend Station and start the short walk down the stretch of High Street towards the water’s edge and see the longest pier in the world venturing out into the North Sea, you feel you are on holiday – even if you are just taking an afternoon off from the metropolis. The change from the City’s serious atmosphere to the frivolous gaiety of Southend is total. Whatever the season, the beautiful seafront is dedicated to pure pleasure. >

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Llandudno, Caernarfonshire


High above the lush cream villas on the outskirts of Penrhyn Bay the road climbs up to the sheep-scattered heights of little Orme’s Head – all pale grey rocky outcrops and seemingly sheer grassy slopes.  Over the brow, Llandudno, ‘ The Naples of the North’, is spread out on the level below at the narrowest point of this extraordinary peninsula. >

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Sidmouth, Devon

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If you approach Sidmouth on a fine day by the small road from the west and travel through the thick beech woods of Peak Hill, 500 feet above the sea, the first sight of the town below and the slow, arched shoreline between the towering red cliffs takes your breath away. It is the nearest thing to the Italian Riviera we possess. The climate is remarkably mild, as the town lies in a tree-clothed valley whose hills, behind the sea, rise higher than the cliffs. In winter Sidmouth is six degrees warmer than in London and has less rainfall than any other south-coast resort.

Until its rarefied resort-life began. Sidmouth was never an important place, although its port at the mouth of the River Sid is grandly called Port Royal. During the 17th century the river was ‘choaked with chisel and sands by the viscitudes [sic] of the tides’, but in 1795 Emmanuel Lousada, an enterprising Jewish businessman, saw Sidmouth and decided to convert it to the most elegant and genteel resort in England,a sort of Cheltenham-on-sea. He bought up a lot of land and set a high standard of fanciful architectural design by building Sidmouth’s first cottage ornée, Peak Hill House, high on a plateau near the cliff’s edge. He then began advertising the glories of this sensational spot. >

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Ventnor, Isle of Wight

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Ventnor’s setting is spectacular. As you come over the wooded heights from Wroxall Downs, the town falls sheer below you to the sea, its bottom-gear roads zigzagging in alarmingly steep bends past lush gardens behind buttressed walls. ‘Here and there it clings and scrambles,’ wrote Henry James, ‘is propped up and terraced, like one of the bright-faced little towns that look down upon the Mediterranean.’ In its Victorian heyday Ventnor was primarily a winter resort, its season lasting from October until June or July.  >

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To me, Swanage is a remarkable, quirky and often fine-looking place, and quarrying was always at its heart….

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On the western side of the wide channel which connects Wells with the sea, a straight lane beside a miniature railway leads to the beach and endless, shining low-tide sands. People look like ants in the distance, and away from the pretty group of stilt-high beach huts these vast expanses can feel utterly remote.

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