Festival of Britten

Please click on image for further details.

Please click on image for further details.

Nick Churton of Mayfair International Realty visits the small but very fashionable town of Aldeburgh on the English east coast and a prominent house in a most prominent position being sold through MIR member firm, Bedfords.

Aldeburgh may be a small Suffolk town perched delicately on the east coast of England. But it has a big reputation the world over with classical musicians and enthusiasts. It has given its name to the now much celebrated annual Aldeburgh Music Festival – co-founded by Benjamin Britten, the noted twentieth century English composer. The festival attracts many of the world’s finest virtuosi. I walked into a local pizzeria one evening to find Mitsuko Uchida, the eminent pianist, dining with friends. It would have been rude to inspect too closely what toppings she was enjoying. But it was nice to see her there.

Aldeburgh is not only well known for music. Over the years many artists, writers and actors have made it a regular retreat. On another occasion I came across Professor Dumbledore (Sir Michael Gambon) in the local newsagent’s. Many stay in one or other of the charming, small, large or shabby-grand Victorian houses along one side of Crag Path – the long street that acts as a boundary between town and coast. Here the full force of the North Sea – unless it is in a benign mood – noisily pounds the shingle beach with its muddy-grey waves.

One of these houses on Crag Path is now on the market. Over a hundred years ago Strafford House was the regular Whitsun haunt of luminaries such as biologist T H Huxley, and novelists, George Meredith and Thomas Hardy. Edward Whymper, the famous alpinist and author of Scrambles Amongst the Alps, was also a guest.

In those days the house belonged to one Edward Clodd. A plaque mounted on the side of the house marks the fact that he lived there between 1898 and 1930. Clodd was a leading figure of the Rationalist movement of the time. But this provenance seems largely unnecessary in a house of delightful presence and in such a wonderful position.

This town is prized for its steadfast refusal to bend to modern style or trends. Aldeburgh is one of the UK’s coastal property hotspots, not only drawing these musicians, writers, artists, ornithologists and foodies but also Londoners escaping to this other world for weekends or for child-safe holidays to swim, golf, sail, buy freshly caught fish from the shacks on the shingle and promenade along Crag Path.

At festival time one can hear, from windows all over the town, singers warming up their voices and instrumentalists practising their pieces before recitals. At other times, especially winter, the place takes on a quieter mood – similar to that which has made haunting places like Cape Cod so attractive – and expensive.

When you buy property in Aldeburgh you are not just buying into a fashionable, beautiful and investment-friendly location. You are buying into a deep-rooted and diversely creative community. And the pizza’s quite good too.

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