Friday, December 9, 2022

Thorpeness, Suffolk

Wild east

I’ve posted here before about the wonderful wooden buildings of Thorpeness, the holiday village in Suffolk built by Glencairn Stuart Ogilvie, mostly in the years after World War I. The signature looks of Thorpeness are black weatherboarding and black-and-white timber framing, but there are brick structures here too, and houses with walls rendered in pale colours. Some of the brick buildings were already in the small settlement (then called Thorpe) which was here before the holiday village was begun. I have also read that at the beginning of the 20th century, people started to build houses that looked on to the beach, most of them in pale painted wood. Here’s an example of such a house – it may well have been renewed since the early days – much of the boarding looks spick and span – but it gives, I think, the impression of what those early houses might have looked like.

In the years around 1910 it was possible to buy a plot of land and build on it with relatively few planning restrictions. Many people constructed cheap houses for themselves out of wood (or even out of old railway carriages), a phenomenon seen in the ‘plotland’ settlements of this period. This bungalow, with its simple boarded structure, low lines, and long conservatory clinging to the sides of the building, is the kind of thing I have in mind. Not all were as elegant as this – some of the the railway-carriage houses, which were once quite common, had the rough and ready bricolage character of pioneer settlements. Something I’ve referred to more than once as the ‘wild east’. This house, with its stripy paintwork and curvy bargeboards, is more civilised than some. But either way the owner could be out of the door, through the gate, and on to the beach in seconds. And that is not altogether bad.

- - - - -

* Thorpeness Halt, the long-closed local railway station, had recycled railway carriages that were used as waiting rooms. I posted a railway carriage house – in Sussex not Suffolk – here.

No comments: