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
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
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
are both closeby.
were well known for killing birds
and in Ipswich Museum there is a large collection of the families birds -
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.