A visitors guide to the seaside coastal resort of
Thorpeness located on the renowned Suffolk Heritage
Coast. The village of Thorpeness was created in the
early 1900s, yes I did say created. The old fishing
hamlet of Thorpe was inherited along with the family
estate by the Scottish playwright and barrister
Glencairn Stuart Ogilvie in the early 1900s.
He decided to build a model seaside village of
mock-Tudor buildings from the old fishing hamlet,
inspired and based upon the writings of J.M. Barrie who
wrote Peter Pan. So it was that the village of
Thorpeness emerged and the resort became very popular
with the middle classes as a holiday destination.
At the centre of the village he placed
an artificial lake 'the Meare', made by flooding open
fields in 1910. The Meare with its islands and surrounds
covers some sixty acres and has over forty acres of
water and is around 3ft (one metre) deep. On the Meare
you can hire canoes and dinghies and traverse the
shallow waters or feed the local ducks and swans. During
the month of August there is a regatta held on the
Meare, after which a huge firework display is performed.
The village itself is made up of a
number different style houses, amongst them Jacobean and
Tudor. Off the main village street is a strange building
known as the 'House in the Clouds'. The tower was built
because the village had no mains water supply, but
Ogilvie did not want an eye sore, so he disguised the
water tank as a house with the water tank on the top
floor, a genuine house was constructed underneath.
Ogilvie had used the same idea to disguise another water
tower back at his main home in Sizewell Court, a mile up
the coast. He made that tank look like a dovecote.
It was Mrs Mason who first lived in this five storey
house with its 30,000 gallon water tank on
top, known as the Gazebo. Mrs Mason a writer of
children's poems started to refer to her home as the
'House in the Clouds' and the name stuck. Nowadays the
house is rented out as a holiday accommodation and as
you can imagine, it proves very popular. As the
village grew a second water tower was needed, this one
was disguised as a Norman tower over an arch with mock
Tudor houses around it. Eventually, over time, all the
cottages in Thorpeness fell into private ownership.
There is also a nice post mill in the village, built in
1824, which was originally the corn mill for the nearby
village of Aldringham but was moved to Thorpeness.
Thorpeness has an eighteen hole golf course laid out by
James Braid in 1922. The Thorpeness Hotel situated at
the edge of Thorpeness Meare, has a bright and spacious
restaurant overlooking the renowned Thorpeness golf
course with marvellous views over the 3rd tee. The
Suffolk locations of Snape
and Aldeburgh are both
Ogilvies family were well known
for killing birds and in Ipswich Museum there is a large
collection of the families birds - stuffed.
Mrs Mason is said to
have recited a poem to Ogilvie at a
dinner she and he attended "The House in the Clouds" -
"The fairies really own this house - or so the children
say - In fact, they all of them moved in upon the self
same day". Ogilvie loved the poem and immediately
changed the name of the water tower house from Gazebo to
House in the Clouds.