Friday, 22 January 2010


Reading, the way one does, the Dawlish Gazette for January the third, 1925, I found this notice of the "Old Maid Rock":

"In the sea a few yards off Lea Mount is a piece of solitary rock, the last vestige of what was once the mainland, which by its hardness resists all the unmerciful lashings of the waves. This rock at one time bore a different shape. Its cowl like head gave it the name of the "Old Maid Rock." Unfortunately in 1888 the upper portion became so unstable and unsafe, through the action of the sea, that the fiat went forth that it must be removed, and so a very interesting feature of the sea coast was destroyed."

The "Old Maid" is still to be found on the charts but she is nothing to write home about. The great sea stacks fall at last. Generations of lusty mariners sneaking into the Estuary the back way, after they had shouted a few insults at the Parson and his Clerk, greeted the old "Old Maid" and set her lonely heart a fluttering. "There's the Old Maid" they cried until one fine day in 1888 there she wasn't.

The "Darling Rock" at Lympstone is fading fast. I can remember when it towered above the flood tide. Now it lies flat as a pancake. Once, rumour has it, sheep grazed on its slope. Now you couldn't graze a goldfish. "The old order changeth yielding place to new."

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