Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Thorpeness, Suffolk


Wood and wind

When landlord Glencairn Stuart Ogilvie and his architect F. Forbes Glennie created Thorpeness as a holiday village, they gave it a fitting share of leisure facilities. A Workmen’s Club was joined by the Kursaal, a Country Club aimed at the middle-class visitors that Glennie hoped mainly to attract. This was accompanied in turn by the Meare, a lake on which there were boats for hire, and this boathouse. The clocktower gives the boathouse a grander air than the weatherboarded barn architecture seems to merit, but also makes it easy to find – and, I suppose, easy to know when your time is up in your hired craft on the lake. Nowadays the building on the left is a café, providing welcome refreshments for those who just want to admire the view or to watch the races in the annual regatta.

Part of the purpose of the boating lake was to keep children occupied, and many of the features around the lake were given a Peter Pan theme – there’s a Crocodile Island, apparently. The effect, in spite of the threat suggested by the imaginary crocodiles, is one of gentility, and is a far cry from the opportunistic seaside tat and kiss-me-quick architecture of some of the Lincolnshire resorts that I remember from my childhood. Visiting in winter, however, I was reminded that the stiff breeze blowing towards me from the North Sea was the same familiar chilly east wind. Useful for sailing, I suppose, but I hope those picturesque wooden walls are well insulated.

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