About an hour’s walk up the coast from Aldeburgh,* about 2 miles, is the village of Thorpeness. It was just a small fishing hamlet and agricultural area in the late 1800s but in 1910 Glencairn Stuart Ogilvie actually bought the land and its surrounding. Being very wealthy, he was able to develop a fantasy holiday village for his private use. In the summer he invited friends and colleagues to bring their families. He built homes in the Jacobean and Tudor styles and provided tennis, swimming and golf for entertainment.
The family friend J.M. Barrie (author of Peter Pan) inspired the creation of the Meare. Over the winter of 1912/13 it was dug 2 ½ feet by hand. The sludge from this marshy area was piled up to make islands, which were planted with trees and gorse. Then the islands were named after places in the Peter Pan story and provided places for children to play. There is a wooden crocodile on one.
Many of the original pleasure boats are still available for rent. They were named by the workmen who dug the lake. In August the Thorpeness Regatta takes place on the Meare. The timing coordinates with Aldeburgh’s* annual festival. At night the boats are decorated and there is a huge fireworks display.
An old windmill was moved to the hillside to pump water to a tower. To hide the water tower the sides were clad in wood and a small house was built on the top. The “House in the Clouds” served the village until a mains water system was established. The house is now an unusual holiday rental.
The Dolphin Inn (formerly The Crown) started out as two houses, some sheds and stables. It was converted into a hotel in 1913. This burned in 1995 but rebuilt two years later. It is now a beautiful pub where dogs are welcome.
If you were to take the coastal path from Thorpeness to Aldeburgh* you would see the huge shell* sculpture situated on the beach. Approached from the northern direction it has a totally different silhouette appearing to be a knight on a rearing charger.
Thorpeness was listed as the 'Weirdest Village in England' by 'Bizarre' magazine in 2003.