Sitting pretty on the North Sea coast of Suffolk, Aldeburgh offers a tranquil home for residents as well as a wonderful range of wildlife.
Noted as the home of composer Benjamin Britten as well as the centre of the international Aldeburgh Festival of arts at nearby Snape Maltings (founded by Britten in 1948), Aldeburgh remains an artistic and literary centre with an annual Poetry Festival and several food festivals as well as other cultural events. The annual Aldeburgh Carnival in August has taken place at least since 1892 and possibly as far back as 1832, when “Ye Olde Marine Regatta” was mentioned. The focal point today is a Carnival Procession featuring locals and visitors dressed in homemade costumes and on floats, often with a topical or local theme.
A former Tudor port, Aldeburgh was granted Borough status in 1529 by Henry VIII and its historic buildings include a 16th-century moot hall and a Napoleonic-era Martello Tower.
Once a leading port with a flourishing shipbuilding industry, Aldeburgh is now a far quieter community, yet it is still centred on the vast shingle beach. The beach, which was awarded the Blue flag rural beach award in 2005, is enough to allow fishing boats to be drawn up above the high tide.
Within the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), Aldeburgh has a number of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and nature reserves in the local area. The Alde-Ore Estuary SSSI covers the area surrounding the river from Snape to its mouth, including the whole of Orford Ness, and contains a number of salt marsh and mudflat habitats. The Leiston-Aldeburgh SSSI extends from the northern edge of the town to cover a range of habitats including grazing marsh and heathland, and includes Thorpeness Mere and the North Warren RSPB reserve – an area of wildlife and habitat conservation and nature trails run by the RSBP.
Famously position on the beach, a short distance north of the town centre is The Scallop – a sculpture dedicated to Benjamin Britten. Created from stainless steel by Suffolk-based artist Maggi Hambling, it stands 15 feet high, and was unveiled in November 2003. The piece is made up of two interlocking scallop shells, each broken, the upright shell being pierced with the words: “I hear those voices that will not be drowned”, which are taken from Britten’s opera Peter Grimes.
Other icons include the Martello Tower, owned and run by the Landmark Trust, which is the largest and most northerly of the Martello Towers built to resist a Napoleonic invasion. The Martello Tower is the only surviving building of the fishing village of Slaughden, which had been washed away by the North Sea by 1936.
The Aldeburgh Moot Hall is a Grade I listed timber-framed building that has been used for council meetings for over 400 years. The Town Clerk’s office is still there and it also houses the local museum.
Aldeburgh is a great place to indulge in some retail therapy, walking as well as dining – there is something for everyone within the town.
Aldeburgh Cinema has been showing films since 1919 and screens popular film classics as well as new releases in a wonderfully traditional atmosphere.
Above all else, the fish and chips of Aldeburgh are the true crowning glory. Boasting three amazing shops; The Aldeburgh Fish & Chip Shop, The Golden Galleon, and The Upper Deck, each has a slightly different take on the classic dish, and they are all equally delightful.
As a home from home or a place to put down roots, Aldeburgh is a serious contender for those who relish living by the coast.