Cley, next the Sea, is a village and civil parish on the River Glaven in the English county of Norfolk, 4 mi (6 km) northwest of Holt and east of Blakeney.
The main A149 coast road runs through the centre of the village, causing congestion in the summer months due to the tight, narrow streets. It lies within the Norfolk Coast AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and the North Norfolk Heritage Coast.
The village’s name is of Anglo-Saxon origin and derives from the Old English for a settlement close to the sea with an abundance of clay.
In the Domesday Book, Cley is recorded as a settlement of 38 households located in the hundred of Holt. The village formed parts of the East Anglian estates of King William I.
A ruined building on the marshes is known as Blakeney Chapel; despite its name, it is in Cley parish and probably never had a religious purpose. It is a Grade II listed building and scheduled monument, likely an old iron smeltery.
Cley was once one of the busiest ports in England, where grain, malt, fish, spices, coal, cloth, barley and oats were exported or imported.
The many Flemish gables in the town are a reminder of trade with the Low Countries. But despite its name, Cley has not been “next the sea” since the 17th century due to land reclamation.
Some of the buildings that once lined the quay remain, notably the 18th-century Cley Windmill. The windmill, a five-storey tower mill, was owned by the family of singer James Blunt for many decades and operated as a bed and breakfast.
The mill was sold in 2006 but continues to operate as a bed and breakfast on a non-profit making basis. It was used as a backdrop for the 1949 film Conspirator with Elizabeth Taylor based on a true story.
Cley Mill has often been depicted by local artists and was the subject of a painting by the 20th-century English landscape artist Rowland Hilder.
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Location: Cley on the Sea, North Norfolk
Year took: 2020
Copyright owner: J. J. Williamson