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Thorpeness Meare
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Location within Suffolk
Shire county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Leiston
Postcode district IP16
List of places
52°10′46″N1°36′53″E / 52.179333°N 1.614710°E / 52.179333; 1.614710

Thorpeness is a seaside village in the East Suffolk district of Suffolk, England, which developed in the early 20th century into an exclusive holiday village. It belongs to the parish of Aldringham cum Thorpe and lies within the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB.



For the earlier history of Thorpe, see Aldringham-cum-Thorpe.

The village was a small fishing hamlet originating in the late 19th century, with folk tales of it being a route for smugglers into East Anglia. The landowning Ogilvie family, began to buy into the area in 1859. [1] In 1910, Glencairn Stuart Ogilvie, a Scottish barrister whose father had made a fortune building railways around the world, increased the family's local estates to cover the entire area from north of Aldeburgh to past Sizewell, up the coast and inland to Aldringham and Leiston. [2]

Most of this land was used for farming, but Ogilvie developed Thorpeness into an elite private fantasy holiday village, to which he invited his friends' and colleagues' families during the summer months. An exclusive country club with tennis courts, a swimming pool, clubhouse; a golf club designed by the eminent James Braid with its own club house; and many holiday homes were built in Jacobean and Tudor Revival styles. [3] Thorpeness railway station, provided by the Great Eastern Railway to serve what was expected to be an expanding resort, was opened a few days before the outbreak of World War I. It was little used, except by golfers, and closed in 1966. [4]

A notable feature of the village is a set of almshouses built in the 1920s to the design of W. G. Wilson. [5] To hide the eyesore of having a water tower in the village, the tank built in 1923 was clad in wood to make it look like a small house on top of a five-storey tower, with a separate mill next to it, which pumped water to it. It is known as the "House in the Clouds", and after mains water was installed in the village, the old tank was transformed into a huge games room with views over the land from Aldeburgh to Sizewell. [6]

For three generations Thorpeness remained mostly in the private ownership of the Ogilvie family, with houses only being sold from the estate to friends as holiday homes. In 1972, Alexander Stuart Ogilvie, Glencairn Stuart Ogilvie's grandson, died on the Thorpeness Golf Course. Many of the houses and the golf course and country club had to be sold to pay death duties. [7]

The Meare

An artificial boating lake known as the Meare was created where there had once been an Elizabethan shipping haven that had silted up. [8] Many of the inspirations for the Meare came from a personal friend of the Ogilvies, J. M. Barrie, who wrote Peter Pan . [7] Along with a large main pond, there are several channels with landings marked with names from the Peter Pan stories. Tiny islands on the Meare contain locations found in the novel, such as the pirates' lair, Wendy's house, and many others, where children are encouraged to play. The Meare was dug to a shallow depth for safety reasons. [8]

A variety of boats can be rented to enjoy the water, many of them originals dating from the creation of the Meare and named by the local workmen who had dug the lake. In August, the Meare serves as the location for the Thorpeness Regatta, which has been held since 1913. [9]

Thorpeness today

The House in the Clouds is an unusual house, converted from a water tower in 1923. The House in the Clouds, Thorpeness.jpg
The House in the Clouds is an unusual house, converted from a water tower in 1923.

To the south of the village lies the North Warren RSPB reserve, an area of wildlife and habitat conservation and nature trails run by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. It has Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Protection Area (SPA) status. [10]

Like much of the East Coast, Thorpeness has had intermittent problems with erosion. Discussions are still underway for further defences. [11] [12]

A lifeboat crew from Thorpeness rescues Tim and his friend the sea captain in the Edward Ardizzone book Little Tim and the Brave Sea Captain (1936). [13]

The Second World War

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