History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
A pretty village on the Suffolk coast, Aldeburgh is most famous for its annual music festival, launched by composer Benjamin Britten, whose memorial is in the parish church.
The Aldeburgh Festival turns this quiet village into a bustling beehive of music each year and has helped transform Aldeburgh from a fishing and pleasure-boating centre into a focal-point for arts and cultural events, which now take place throughout the year.
What to see
The seashore and surrounding areas are a haven for wildlife and have been designated an AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty). The wetlands around Aldeburgh are home to marsh harrier and bitterns, here an endangered species.
There are three major historic buildings in Aldeburgh. The smallest, and arguably the most interesting, is the Moot Hall, located at the northern edge of the seafront. The Moot Hall is a very attractive timber-framed building dating to the first half of the 16th century.
It was built to serve as a combination council chamber, market centrepiece, and prison. It now houses a popular museum covering the long history of Aldeburgh. On the exterior of the Hall is a clock, dated 1650.
The 15th-century parish church boasts the tomb of composer Benjamin Britten (see below), as well as a bust of poet George Crabbe, who was born here in 1794. Crabbe provided the inspiration for Britten's celebrated opera Peter Grimes.
Britten is buried in the north of the churchyard, as is Imogen Holst, daughter of composer Gustav Holst. The church is worth a visit for its own sake, though rather a hodgepodge of styles. The bulk of the building dates to the 16th century, with a lot of 19th and 20th-century work. The striking tower emphasizes the unusually broad nave, lit by Perpendicular windows. The octagonal pulpit is of oak and dates to 1632.
Aldeburgh is blessed with a lovely shingle beach, and fresh seafood can be purchased from fishing boats pulled up to the shingle. The Royal National Lifeboat Station affords an opportunity to view the famous Aldeburgh lifeboats up close. Aldeburgh has been a major RNL station on the Suffolk coast since 1851.
If you walk south along the shore, past the old, long-vanished port of Slaughden, you will come to the third historic building, a brick Martello Tower, one of many similar towers erected along the British coastline during the 19th century.
The tower was begun in 1806 to guard against an anticipated Napoleonic invasion, but work stopped in 1812 before the construction was complete. It is the only Martello tower to be built in a clover-leaf shape, and the most northerly coastal defence tower to be built.
Although perhaps not reason in itself to visit Aldeburgh, the local Fish and Chip Shop was named best in Britain in a poll by the Observer newspaper.
The Aldeburgh Festival of Music and the Arts
The Festival sprang from a desire by founders Benjamin Britten, Peter Pears, and Eric Crozier to find a home for their touring opera company, the English Opera Group. In 1948 the trio established a music Festival at Aldeburgh, and the intervening decades have seen Aldeburgh become synonymous with new music.
Each June rising young artists are given the opportunity to showcase their talents and break new ground in musical repertoire and interpretation of old and new works. The festival is now operated by Aldeburgh Productions. Many of the major festival productions now take place, not at Aldeburgh itself, but at Snape Maltings, 5 miles distant.
Aldeburgh is a delightful place to visit, though if you like peace and quiet you might be well advised to avoid the Festival period!
Address: Aldeburgh, East Anglia, Suffolk, England
Attraction Type: Town
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
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NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest
Aldeburgh Moot Hall Museum - 0.2 miles (Historic Building)
Aldeburgh, St Peter and St Paul's Church - 0.3 miles (Historic Church)
Thorpeness Windmill - 2.1 miles (Historic Building)
Iken, St Botolph's Church - 3.2 miles (Historic Church)
Sudbourne, All Saints Church - 3.9 miles (Historic Church)
Friston Windmill - 4 miles (Historic Building)
Friston, St Mary's Church - 4.1 miles (Historic Church)
Snape Maltings - 4.5 miles (Historic Building)
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