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View of the beach at chapel point Lincolnshire showing the observatory in the distance
The beach at Chapel Point, Lincolnshire

The Lincolnshire coast has many features whether it be the glorious sandy beach at Chapel Point or the marshes of the Wash. When exploring this magnificent coast you never know what you might find washed ashore. The following are some findings from the past that you may find interesting, if a little grim and sad.

Whales have always been washed ashore and understandably attract interest, although I do not recommend going near a decaying whale as the smell can be somewhat unpleasant. Some of these whales that wash ashore make it into the Wash, sadly their demise is nearly always the result of man’s activity causing either disease or injury:

October 2013 – “A whale on the outer wash at Dawsmere near Long Sutton has been found washed ashore. It is a bottle-nosed grampus variety measuring 25ft. 6 in. long. It had a gash in its body.”

May 1936 – “A whale washed ashore near Mr W.K. Wright’s farm at Dawsmere Marsh believed to have been killed by a machine gun. It was 12feet long with a girth of 8ft.”

More common than dead whales are dead seals. Whatever you do, if walking your dog, avoid having your dog roll in the dead seal’s remains for two reasons: firstly the smell takes forever to wash out; secondly seals can carry disease such as distemper that can harm dogs.

Sadly, occasionally the finds on the marsh are human. I do recall one wildfowler finding just a divers glove still containing the hand, but no other remains were found. If you look through old newspaper’s you repeatedly see two family names that find and retrieve bodies from the marsh: Mr White, a successive family of shepherds based at Holbeach Marsh; and more often various members of the Lineham family, a successive family of fisherman based at Fosdyke to whom a good many owe their lives:

November 1938 – “ Holbeach Marsh Air Crash – Pilot Officer A.D. Steele Perkins escaped by parachute picked up by Mr Lineham, Fisherman at Fosdyke. John William Beverley Bentley died aged 25.”

Wartime did see some more bizarre finds such as this message in a bottle found on Gedney Marsh in June 1915, the message read, “The war will end December 17th 1915. I am alive. G Hamel, aviator.” Sadly he had disappeared flying over the Chanel in 1914 and Spalding police concluded it was a hoax.

The North Sea floods of 1953 caused several bodies of victims to be found along the Lincolnshire coast. One body washed up near Boston was identified as well known Mablethorpe resident Mr J R Pye, however the following day he walked into Louth town hall declaring he was very much alive!

In WW2 a wreck washed ashore at Holbeach Marsh containing chocolate and cigarettes. Two Holbeach St Matthews men fell foul of the salvage laws and were prosecuted after they recovered cigarettes and 31lb. of chocolate and failed to deliver their find to the Receiver of Wrecks.

In October 1928 heavy seas washed up thousands of vegetables onto Skegness beach. “The majority of onions were sound and several local people laid upon a supply for domestic use.” Apparently the vegetables were lost from a cargo from a ship importing vegetables from Brittany.

But sometimes the finds are of monsters!

1935 – “SKEGNESS MONSTER A rare type of fish was washed up on the Skegness seashore by the gale. It possesses a horned beak like a parrot, the mouth being hidden away in the centre of eight powerful tentacles studded with horny suckers.”

1941 saw perhaps the most bizarre find ever on the Lincolnshire coast: “..amphibious monster caught after being chased by three men and seven horses. The noises emitted by the animal are those heard by mariners sometimes lured to destruction at sea, where the ship is wrecked.”

Finally I leave you with the most bizarre find of all, Lincolnshire’s very own Mary Celeste:

“In March 1870 the schooner Clio was found on the beach at Cleethorpes with no one on board. Mystery surrounds what happened to its crew who had disappeared at some point between its unexpected landing and its departure from Lowestoft in Suffolk. The ship’s lifeboat was found nearby with its oars lashed to it, but no sign was ever found of its crew.”

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