During the 16th century the coastal town of Aldeburgh was a very important port on the east coast, with a flourishing ship-building industry at nearby Slaughden. The men of Suffolk served with Sir Francis Drake in the Golden Hind and the other sailing ships built here. The area's important maritime industry fell into serious decline once the River Alde silted-up and its lower reaches are now mainly a haven for yachts and pleasure craft.
Fishing Boats on the Shingle Shore at Aldeburgh © TAB
The town's long straight shingle beach is still used for launching its colourful little fishing boats; albeit in much smaller numbers these days due to over-fishing in the English Channel. If you're up early enough you can watch the catch being landed on the beach. If not, you can still buy freshly caught fish and shellfish from the old black tarred fishermen's huts along the beach front.
Aldeburgh has a mixture of architectural styles. Fine Georgian houses line the main high street, which boasts two of the best family run fish and chip shops in Suffolk, plus a number of excellent shops and eateries. The seafront has many quaint little cottages and several properties that date from the First World War. Along the seafront is an odd looking square built tower, with a spiral iron staircase running around the outside, that was once used used as a look-out.
The half-timbered Moot Hall, is the town's most striking building. It dates from the early 1500s when the town was at its most prosperous. An outside staircase leads to an upper floor containing a small local history museum.
The church of St Peter and Paul stands on a hill overlooking the town. Most of the stone and flint structure is 16th-c, apart from the 14th-c west tower. The very long south porch has three entrances. Inside is the original 14th-century font, a stall, a 17th-c pulpit and several 15th to 19th-c monuments. Its main treasure is a spectacular stained glass window by John Piper, depicting three Britten oratorios.
Benjamin Britten moved to Aldeburgh in 1947, when, along with the help of tenor Peter Pears, he founded the internationally renowned Aldeburgh Festival, in the town's tiny Jubilee Hall. As the festival grew in popularity it was moved up-river to Snape Maltings, where a large purpose-built concert hall was created, within a former barley malting complex.
Tourist Information Centre:
|High Street, Aldeburgh, Suffolk IP15 5AQ - Tel: 01728 453637|
Summer visitors to Aldeburgh can enjoy boat trips on the River Alde and pleasant riverside walks by the wildlife rich reed beds and marshes.
This small 16th-c timber-framed and brick building has been used as a council meeting place for hundreds of years and still houses the Town Clerk's office.
The upper floor houses a small local history museum, with old maps and prints on display.
Opening times: Apr, May, Sept,
Oct: daily 2.30-5pm; Jun to Aug: daily 12-5pm - Small Admission Charge
Location: Aldeburgh (sea front), Suffolk, IP15 5DS - Tel: 01728 454666 - Website
The 19th-c century Maltings at Snape, just outside the town, is the venue for the annual Aldeburgh Music Festival one of the best musical events in Britain. In addition to the concert venue the complex is host to a variety of cafes, restaurants, art galleries, craft shops, and boutiques (open daily).
Opening times: daily from 10am Free entry to shops and craft area. Charge
Location: Snape Maltings, Near Aldeburgh, Suffolk
IP17 1SR - Tel: 01728 688 303 - Website
Facilities: parking, craft stalls, galleries, shops, restaurants
The Martello Tower at Slaughden is one of many defensive structures built along Britain's east coast in 1808-12, to defend against a possible invasion by the French.
Restored and run as holiday apartments by the Landmark Trust.
Not open to general public