Boulders protect Cuckmere Haven cottages from sea

The cottages in front of the Seven Sisters cliffs
Image caption The cottages appear in many pictures of the Sussex coast

Work to protect cottages perched on the edge of cliffs in Sussex from the sea has begun.

The owners of the cottages, in Cuckmere Haven, have paid £60,000 for the work to be done after the Environment Agency refused to pay.

The cottages have become a landmark along with the backdrop of the Seven Sisters chalk cliffs, appearing in films such as Atonement.

Extra defences are being put in to repair damage caused by winter storms.

Carolyn McCourt, who is one of the owners, said to protect the cottages in the long term, it would cost between £500,000 and £1m.

Image caption The work is costing the cottages' owners £60,000

"We could save these cottages for the next 50 to 100 years," she said. "Is it worth it? For me, as it's my own home, of course it is. But it's not about that.

"It's about how other people feel about them and their iconic status."

Michael Ann, another of the owners, said the work was about saving a view which was important internationally.

He said: "I spoke to one Japanese man on his second visit... he said, 'this we are told in all the guide books for England in Japan, this is a must-see view'."

Suggestions to raise the money include a fundraising campaign as public cash is not available.

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