Parish Past & Present

Appeal for Contributions

This website seems the obvious place to record histories of the Parish. It won't be long before printed books and photographs are lost, as well as people's memories, and using the website is a way of preserving them for the future. There's already a general Parish History in the 'About the Parish' section, but more specific histories can be seen from these pages. If you can contribute an item you think may be of interest please email the parish website address:

If you're interested in tracing family history see the website link at the end of this page. Please leave a comment, or email the website with suggestions for anything you'd like to see here.

Photographs of the Parish

There are hundreds of photographs of Thorpeness, many published as Postcards, a small collection of which can be seen on the website. In an attempt to redress the balance some unusual photographs of Aldringham are reproduced too. If you haven't already seen the website Gallery there are more Parish photographs there.

St Andrew's Church, Aldringham

Aldringham Church has a very long history and the delightful guide to St Andrew's, kindly written by Roy Tricker, will almost transport you there, though it would be much better if you visited. A number of interesting photographs supplement the guide.

Old Parish Magazines

Roy Tricker also found some old Parish Magazines, the relevant pages of which have been reproduced and show how the publications have changed.

Teachers at Aldringham School

Mrs Mary Flatman saw the notice of her parents' wedding in one of the old Parish Magazines mentioned above. Dulcie Kett was a teacher at Aldringham School from 1921 to 1933, when she married Irwin Took at Aldringham Church. Until then she'd lived at Pantile Farm, now Bird's Farm, with her parents Phoebe, who was head teacher at the school for many years, and Herbert Kett. Thank you Mary for the information and photographs you provided.

Cecil Howard Lay, Architect, Artist & Poet

Cecil Lay was an Aldringham man, one of interest and great talent. The pages relating to him include a short biography, photos and pictures of some of his buildings, paintings and poems.

Colts Hill

Cecil Lay designed Colts Hill, a once lovely house near the Fens in Aldringham. Peter Fletcher spent part of his childhood there, and in Thorpeness, and shares his memories of that time.

The Rye Field Murder, Aldringham

On 8 July, 1945, 14 year old Daphne Bacon was murdered in a rye field in Aldringham. Peter Drew has written a summary of the murder, its investigation, arrest and trial of the murderer. Many thanks to Peter for this interesting history and photographs.


In May 1912 the Kursaal, or the original Country Club, opened in Thorpeness. G Stuart Ogilvie had started to build his fantasy holiday village and the first holiday homes were leased that year. In 1913 a boating lake, the Meare, was opened. Read a short history of the village and look at 100 old photographs following the centenaries of the the village and the Meare.

The village is a designated Conservation Area, and in 2010 Suffolk Coastal District Council produced a Conservation Area Appraisal of Thorpeness. The document makes interesting reading, describing the history and character of the village, as well as street by street detail, well supplemented by photographs.

Thorpeness was served at one time by the railway, with trains stopping at Thorpeness Halt, near the part of the B1353, Thorpe Road, where the golf course crosses the road. The 'station buildings' consisted of three railway carriages. If you search for it you can still find the platform! There are some photos of the Halt included among the 100 old photos of Thorpeness but you can find out more from this website:

St Mary's Church, Thorpeness

Now private residences, St Mary's Church was built in 1936 to the design of G Stuart Ogilvie. Although he died in 1932 the church was completed by his son, Sholto S Ogilvie. A short history of St Mary's Church now hangs in St Andrew's Church, Aldringham, and is reproduced on this website.

A History of Bay Cottage, Thorpeness

John Hoddy and his wife bought Bay Cottage in Thorpeness at the end of 1985. The cottage was in a bad state of repair and over the years, in getting it right, much about the cottage has been uncovered. Many thanks to John Hoddy, whose short History of Bay Cottage tells what has been found in possibly the oldest building in Thorpeness.

Robert John Unstead - Mr History

Bob Unstead lived in Thorpeness from the 1960s until he died in 1988. He published nearly 100 books to make history more interesting for children. Thanks to Peter Drew who wrote this brief story of his life.

Aldringham Aircraft Crash

On 24 March, 1941, a Short Stirling Mk 1 aircraft crashed into the cottage named Logwood on the Aldeburgh Road in Aldingham, causing extensive damage and the deaths of all the crew, despite heroic efforts of local Auxiliary Nurses. Peter Drew tells the sad story and a number of photographs are included.

Many thanks to those who have contributed narrative, pictures and photographs for these articles.

The Parrot & Punchbowl Inn

One of the oldest buildings in Aldringham, you can read some of it's history on the pub's website.

Warden's Trust

There's more interesting local history on the Warden's Trust website. Read too how the Charity helps the young and the old with disabilities.

Family History

There's been a suggestion that a family history section on the website would be interesting. There is already a local website designed to help people trace family history, particularly in east Suffolk as well as further afield. Rather than duplicate effort - and possibly dilute usefulness - why not visit the Alde Valley Suffolk Family History Group website - The website may help you trace your family, and the talks and events they hold could be of interest too.

Can you help with these old Photographs?

Sheila Block grew up in the Thorpeness area. Sadly she has now passed away. Her granddaughter, Emma Jackson, wonders whether you can shed any light on these family history photographs.

If you'd like to comment on these pages please do so below.
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1 Comment

  1. By Jackie Bay on September 19, 2012

    Thank you for the article about the history of St Andrew's Church. Whenever I've visited I've always enjoyed its splendid isolation - and always wondered at it being hidden 'in the middle of nowhere' rather than being closer to it's potential congregation in the main part of Aldringham. I imagined (as happens with old villages) that the residential area must have shifted over the centuries. Then I discovered the old Baptist Chapel on the other side of the B1353, even more hidden away it seems and too recent in origin for the 'left behind' explanation - redundant now of course and what I imagine was its replacement sensibly sited in the middle of Leiston.
    Does anyone really know why Aldringham has hidden its places of worship away? I'd love to know.

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