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Chambers at Large along the Suffolk Coast: Thorpeness, Aldeburgh & Sizewell

Updated: Sep 15, 2022

Victorian and Edwardian history fascinates me, mainly because of the lifestyle of the people and the countless innovations of the period. Thorpeness was one of those innovations, a purpose built holiday village, not far from the fishing village of Aldeburgh.

I began my exploration of this extraordinary village on the shingle beach near a stainless steel sculpture celebrating British composer Benjamin Britten who spent much of his life in the area. The words at the top of the seashell shaped artwork, “I hear those voices that will not be drowned”, are taken from his opera Peter Grimes.

Breathing in the bracing sea air I made my way along the shore to the village of Thorpeness, my first stop being the Kitchen to enjoy a cup of coffee and a legendary sausage roll, the meatiest I have ever had!

I then made my way around the village to admire the cottages built between 1911 and 1914 as holiday homes.

All are different and all were equipped with quality furniture, cutlery, linen, running water and gas. Some have views over a duck pond, others the Meare, a large lake where visitors can still go boating.

What is remarkable about this holiday destination is its simplicity. No promenade, no pier, no amusement arcades, none of the trappings of many seaside resorts that became popular destinations after the creation of the railways. Thorpeness is basically an escape to the seaside, a rustic interlude, miles from the city.

The village boasts an unusual building, now available for a holiday let, called the House in the Clouds. It was once a steel tower and water tank, and is a landmark that can be seen from quite a distance.

Opposite is a delightfully maintained windmill that once stood in another village two miles away. I love windmills and would like to see many restored to their former glory and be utilised for their intended purpose.

I made my way back along the shore arriving in Aldeburgh, a Victorian fishing village, where a statue of Snooks the Dog sits next to the War Memorial. Snooks, suitably attired for the weather in the colours of the Ukrainian flag, belonged to Dr Acheson, who took his faithful companion with him when tending the sick in the area between 1931 and 1959.

Alongside the museum, being renovated as I write, there are two petanque pitches, and opposite seafront shelters including once again FREE public conveniences. Kudos to Suffolk County Council for providing this much needed service.

Fish shops along the short promenade opposite the quite impressive Wentworth Hotel were selling a delicious medley of fish and if I was living nearby I would certainly avail of the smoked haddock, lobster tails or crab. Being on holiday means I eat out and avoid the kitchen!

Driving along the coast road I finally arrived in Sizewell, the likely site of a nuclear power station. My immediate concern however was the sign warning me of the presence of adders, Britain’s only poisonous snake, and I did as advised and kept to the naturally worn paths. The beach at Sizewell is similar to that of Aldeburgh and Thorpeness, made up of shingle, but has offshore platforms which once marked the position of the inlet and outlet of the cooling system of a now defunct power station.

The coastline of Suffolk is an area of outstanding natural beauty, creating a habitat for, not only adders, but a plethora of flora and fauna. Long may it survive and adapt to the onslaught of modernisation.


The coast of Suffolk and Norfolk is well worth a visit. Please check out my this blog telling of another location:

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What is a "shingle" beach? Is that the British term for stones on a beach? It clearly isn't a sandy nor a rocky beach; it looks like small rounded stones to me. In the US we have shingle roofs but not shingle beaches. 🤔 I expect there are a lot more people on the beach in the summer. It looks like you were there on a chilly winter day.

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