Among the original occupants of the main house at Castaways, known as Cliff Holm when it was built in the late 19th century, were the Moeran family. Rev Joseph William W Moeran, an Irish born clergyman, lived at Cliff Holm with his wife Ada Esther (born Whall) and he was the Vicar of Bacton between 1873 and 1913. Before moving the Bacton the Moeran family had moved around for several years as Rev Moeran was appointed to various parishes but they eventually settled in Cliff Holm in Bacton on the coast of Norfolk.
One of the children of the Moeran family, Ernest, became the famous English Chamber Music Composer. Ernest J Moeran was born not born in Bacton but in Heston (now in the London Borough of Hounslow).
Ernest studied the violin and the piano as a child. He was educated from an early age at home, by a governess. At the age of ten, he was sent to Suffield Park Preparatory School in Cromer, North Norfolk. In 1908, he was enrolled at Uppingham School where he spent the next five years. He was taught music by the director Robert Sterndale Bennett (grandson of Sir William Sterndale Bennett), who greatly encouraged his talents. On leaving Uppingham in 1913, he studied piano and composition at the Royal College of Music with Charles Villiers Stanford. He was also a member of the prestigious Oxford & Cambridge Musical Club.
Ernest Moeran was one of the last major English composers to be heavily influenced by English folk-song and thus belongs to the lyrical tradition of such composers as Delius, Vaughan Williams and Ireland.
The influence of the nature and landscapes of Norfolk and Ireland are also often evident in his music. Some of his larger-scale orchestral pieces were composed (or at least conceived) whilst Ernest walked the hills of western England, particularly in Herefordshire, and Ireland, where the grandness of the mountain ranges of Kerry inspired him greatly. But, unlike some now-forgotten English “pastoralist” composers, Moeran was capable of conveying a wide range of emotions through his music and wasn’t afraid of writing in a darker and harsher idiom when it suited him. His style is conservative but not derivative.
In 1917 the Cliff Holm was purchased as a Holiday Home by Alfred Wilson, a Colonial merchant of Purley in Surrey, but he died seven years later, on board the Windsor Castle on his way to his brother’s wedding in South Africa.
The property then sold by Alfred’s widow comprised the house, an adjoining cottage known as Verdun Cottage (Occupied by the Gardiner) and thirteen and a half acres of adjoining land, of which the sale document comments – “ … the value of this very problematical – the sea is yearly encroaching …” .
Since then Cliff Holm has changed hands many times. At some point it was occupied by Major Russell in the 1920s and 30s. It was run as a School. Mrs Lottie Mace (Born 1920) remembers some of the wealthy students who attended, one in particular, an Indian prince ‘of the Raj’ whose glamorous car the local children used to chase as it passed. In those days the land behind the house included Tennis Courts and a Croquet lawn. (Occasionally, elderly holidaymakers at Castaways remember attending the school at Cliff Holm, so it could have been a school through the 1940s.)
During WW2 the house was used as a billet for Soldiers.
In the late 1970s Roger and Becky Fitches bought the house and land from Colin Ewen, of the Grange, Bacton, who also owned Trimingham House Holiday Park and Red House Chalet Park. By this time the house had been divided into Flats and become somewhat dilapidated. The Fitches renovated the house and turned the land into a holiday park. They share some interesting stories including the best one which was a hole appeared in the ground near one of the caravans during a storm in 1990. The hole got bigger and eventually revealed a flight of steps descending into the earth, giving access to a two-room air raid shelter.
In 2004, Cliff Holm, now Castaways was bought from the Fitches by Richard & Anna Hollis from Tamworth, Staffordshire who are continuing the run Castaways as a thriving holiday location