So we leave the Den and the Pier behind and head east, soon reaching ‘Old Maids’ Walk’ at either end of which once stood pairs of whalebone arches.
The path splits here and we are going to take a short detour following the left-hand path up towards Mules Park. We stop on the bridge that crosses the railway and look inland to what is now Eastcliff carpark, a macadam desert.
Once it had grandeur, once it was Eastcliff house. This poem by Tacy Rickard reflects its changing fortune and the changing times.
Eastcliff Car Park
“Near the town of Teignmouth stands the beautiful residence of W.Tayleur, M.D.”
The Georgian gazetteer proclaims, and advises a walk along the cliff to view the sight.
“The admired and truly elegant mansion of the late Dr Tayleur… with grounds extending to the sea cliffs”,
state the sales particulars of 1837.
Bright walls gleamed among the clustered trees,
The sun burnishing rain-washed slates,
An iridescent lawn cloaking the slopes.
Now a tarmac shell,
Bounded by a scrap of wall,
An abandoned archway,
The railway gouging a wound through the land that once hemmed the cliff:
the complexity of the space erased.
Beneath the parking bays,
The footprint of the house.
Shadows of rooms, doorways, windows,
fragments of masonry entombed:
opaque glass slivers from once sun warmed windows,
splintered timbers crumbled to a dark stain.
And the remnants of past lives:
Shards of teacups from Victorian garden parties;
a rusted blade, dropped at the last pruning;
a tarnished coin fallen from a waistcoat pocket,
an earring spilt while the woman danced;
discarded marbles, cloudy, pitted;
a charred clay pipe in the turned earth.
Here were dinner parties where town worthies forged their bonds;
Here was birth, passion, betrayal, death.
The stones, once humming with human voices,
now shaken by the combusting throb of coach engines,
the thrust of the diesel through the opened tunnel,
Electronic pulse drumming.
Heedless shoppers spill down the slopes,
minds drifting away to the day ahead.
Eyes fast forward to the future.
The terrace where they sipped and dipped sun dappled appetisers,
lazily gazing across the rooftops,
the sun’s glow firing the sea,
the wave of a sail catching the eye,
the evening scents drifting by
a place to alight and leave
but not to be.
Want to know more? Check out:
Eastcliff House …..