Thorpeness: Dream Village

La regione dell’Anglia Orientale è famosa per i suoi pittoreschi paesaggi costieri, ma Thorpeness è unico nel suo genere: frutto dell’ingegno di un uomo, questo piccolo villaggio di pescatori è stato trasformato in una favolosa destinazione turistica.

Julian Earwaker

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Daniel Francis

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If you could dream a village into existence, what would it look like? Perhaps something like the seaside village of Thorpeness in Suffolk. Framed by heathland, sandy beaches and the sea, Thorpeness features beautiful timbered and brick buildings, waterfront bungalows and a windmill, plus a tearoom, pub and local shops. At its heart is an expansive and delightful boating lake called the Meare.

Thorpeness

inheritance

In 1910, Glencairn Stuart Ogilvie, a wealthy barrister, playwright and architect, looked out onto the puddled landscape around the tiny fishing hamlet of Thorpe. Ogilvie had inherited the 2,400-hectare (24 sq. km) estate on the Suffolk coast, but the encroaching North Sea was threatening to submerge it. Now, he had to decide whether to abandon Thorpe, or save it for the future. Ogilvie decided he would build an exclusive holiday village. He renamed the village Thorpeness to distinguish it from the many other villages called Thorpe in the country.

PETER PAN

With the help of a large team of skilled workers, Ogilvie built mock-Tudor and Jacobean houses, bungalows, a boathouse, golf course, tennis courts,bowling green and a country club called the Kursaal. The Crown Inn was renovated and renamed the Dolphin Hotel. The Meare, once an inlet on Suffolk’s Hundred River that provided shelter for ships, had silted up over the centuries. Ogilvie decided to transform it into a shallow boating lake. The author J. M. Barrie was a family friend, so tiny islands were created inspired by his children’s book Peter Pan. A water tower was refashioned into a wooden house on a high plinth and named the House in the Clouds, and the transformation of Thorpeness into a fairytale resort was complete. 

IDEALISM

Ogilvie followed what were known as the ‘garden city’ ideals of urban planner Ebeneezer Howard. Howard wanted to create a place for people to live healthy lives in harmony with nature. Ogilvie hoped that Thorpeness would help visitors and residents become citizens who were “kind, generous, polite, energetic, moral, nationalistic, intellectual, comfort-loving and fond of beauty.” He was certainly ambitious!

Ogilvie died in 1932, but would be pleased to know that Thorpeness remains a genteel holiday paradise for children and their families. As well as taking a rowing boat on the Meare, or enjoying the annual regatta with fireworks and festivities, visitors can enjoy ice creams, cream teas, antiques, walking, cycling and wildlife-spotting here on the unspoiled Suffolk coast.  

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