Being the only person in town can be lonely, but on the plus side it does make you one of a kind.

On this day in 1917, a peculiar story began in a village in southern England, or, rather, what was left of it.

The village, you see, was washed away in a storm.

And yet, one woman stayed on for decades.

Her name was Eliabeth Prettejohn, and she lived in Hallsands, a centuries-old fishing town of about 150 people.

It had homes, a post office and a pub on a cliff overlooking the beach.

In the late 19th century, the government was looking to expand a dockyard and decided to dredge along the coastline for sand and rock.

That destabilized the beach, and storms began washing away the sea wall.

In January 1917, a massive four-day storm wrecked nearly the entire village.

Fortunately all the residents survived, but they’d lost everything and moved away.

Except for 33 year old Elizabeth Prettejohn and her family, who decided to stay.

Eventually, it was just her, the one remaining resident of Hallsands.

A newsreel company caught up with her in 1960.

Elizabeth Prettejohn was by then in her mid-70s, and still very self-sufficient.

She lived in a cottage called Sea View, with her cat.

She raised chickens for eggs, she still caught fish, and when visitors came she told them the story of the town that had been lost to the sea, and how all of its people had moved away, except for one.

Today is Australia Day, a public holiday and one where Australians can reflect on the complexities of their own history.

At a university in Melbourne, there’s a statue of an official called Charles La Trobe that’s upside down.

Upside down on purpose, I should say; it was installed with the statue on its head.

The sculptor once said universities are supposed to turn ideas on their heads, so why not start with the statues?

The strange but true life of Elizabeth Prettejohn who lived alone in ruined Hallsands (Devon Live)

Upside Down Statue (Atlas Obscura)

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Photo of rainbow over Hallsands by Snidge, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link