Thorpeness - A unique holiday village on the Suffolk Coast

  • By Philip D. | 11/03-2014 00:00

    Thorpeness is a small village on the Suffolk Coast and was created almost from scratch in the early 20th century by local landowner Glencairn Stuart Ogilvie. The village was originally just a few fishermen's cottages and some rather ramshackle huts on the dunes overlooking the beach - he had the vision to create a purpose built holiday village where visitors could come and relax - his motto was "if the children are happy then the parents will be too." 

    The first thing he built was the large Boating Lake called 'The Meare” which extends to 65 acres and is dotted with small islands all with a 'Peter Pan' theme. Many of the boats available to hire today date from around 1912 when the Meare was first opened. The highlight of the calendar is the 'Regatta', which is held annually in August.

    He built many of the houses that still survive today, mostly in a slight quirky "Old English' style. The houses were let furnished with everything holidaymakers would require and the village was the first in the country to have its own gas supply! He ensured that everything was cared for and maintained and employed gardeners and workers to ensure the village always looked its best! 

    Ogilvie also built the 'Country Club' with tennis courts and function rooms for dances and shows, and the Golf Club, which he had designed by James Braid who was one of the leading Golf Club designers of the day. He also disguised the village water tank as a house - it is known all over the world as 'The House in the Clouds'. He also provided the Thorpeness with a Pub and village shop so there was really no need for visitors ever to leave the peace and tranquility of the village. In all he spent in excess of £250,000 of his own money (equivalent to about £20,000,000 today!). 

    Ownership of the village stayed with the Ogilvie family through two World Wars and many financial 'ups and downs' until 1976 when many of the properties, the Country Club and Golf Club were sold to pay Death Duties (the family kept 'The Meare') but today visitors still come to Thorpeness for holidays and short breaks by the Sea in this special part of Suffolk.