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Thorpeness Meare
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Shire county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Leiston
Postcode district IP16
EU Parliament East of England
List of places
52°10′46″N 1°36′53″E / 52.179333°N 1.614710°E / 52.179333; 1.614710

Thorpeness is a seaside village in the East Suffolk district of Suffolk, England, which developed in the early 20th century into a holiday village. It belongs to the parish of Aldringham cum Thorpe and lies within the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB.

The Meare

An artificial lake, "mere" or boating lake was created where there had once been an Elizabethan shipping haven that had silted up. Many of the inspirations for the Meare came from a personal friend of the Ogilvies, J. M. Barrie, who wrote Peter Pan. Along with a large main pond, there are several channels with landings marked with names from the Peter Pan stories. Tiny islands on the Meare contain locations found in the novel, such as the pirates' lair, Wendy's house, and many others, where children are encouraged to play. The Meare was dug to a shallow depth for safety reasons.

A variety of boats can be rented to enjoy the water, many of them originals dating from the creation of the Meare and named by the local workmen who had dug the lake.

In August, the Meare serves as the location for the Thorpeness Regatta which usually takes place around the same time as the carnival in neighbouring Aldeburgh and attracts many visitors. During the day, boat races are held, and at night, boats that have been decorated are paraded around the Meare. This is followed by a grand fireworks display.

Thorpeness today

The House in the Clouds, Thorpeness
The House in the Clouds is an unusual house, converted from a water tower in 1923.

Thorpeness is a quiet village of about 400 people in the winter, increasing to over 1,600 in the summer holiday season. Apart from the events centred on the Meare at the end of August, it is also a popular destination with day trippers, for its beach, amenities, and sights such as The House in the Clouds.

The landowning Ogilvie family, who began to buy into the area in 1859, still have a strong presence in the village. Many of those holidaying in the village have been doing so for generations. Many of the families of the craftsmen who helped to build the village still live there. Thorpeness was listed as the Weirdest Village in England by Bizarre magazine in 2003.

To the south of the village lies the North Warren RSPB reserve, an area of wildlife and habitat conservation and nature trails run by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. It has Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Protection Area (SPA) status.

Like much of the East Coast, Thorpeness has had intermittent problems with coastal erosion. Discussions are still underway for further defences.

Notable person

Sophie Lascelles, who was born in the village in 1973, is a professional photographer of note. She is a great-great-granddaughter of King George V.

The Second World War

  • Radar: A radar installation was located in Thorpeness, Chain Home Extra Low Station K164.
  • Coastal artillery: a lone 18-pounder field gun was sited in a concrete gun emplacement on the cliffs of Thorpeness. The gun was given the name John, while others elsewhere on the coast were named Matthew, Mark, Luke and St Peter.
  • Anti-aircraft artillery.
  • SS Magdapur fell victim to a mine and sank close inshore off Thorpeness.
  • In the run-up to the Second World War, a small British merchant vessel named Thorpeness was sunk by a torpedo fired by German forces off Spain.
  • An anti-tank ditch ran from Aldringham to the Meare. This was dug by the 9th Battalion of the Cameronians.
  • One regiment of the 1st Assault Brigade Royal Engineers arrived in Thorpeness in late 1943 and was stationed there.
  • A detachment of 2711 Squadron, RAF Regiment, was stationed in Thorpeness, as was 2783 Squadron RAF Regiment.
  • The Archaeological Service of Suffolk County Council produced a detailed report of the Second World War and other archaeological aspects of Thorpeness.
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