Hot Spot: Aldeburgh

Synonymous with the composer Benjamin Britten and the festival he founded, unspoiled Aldeburgh carries a premium when it comes to property, says Robert Liebman
Click to follow
The Independent Online

The sea giveth, the sea taketh away. Aldeburgh offers sailing and fishing in a picturesque setting but erosion has claimed chunks of land, and the town's high street is a fraction of its former self. Now near the shore, the Moot Hall, an architectural treasure dating from 1540, used to be in the town centre.

The sea giveth, the sea taketh away. Aldeburgh offers sailing and fishing in a picturesque setting but erosion has claimed chunks of land, and the town's high street is a fraction of its former self. Now near the shore, the Moot Hall, an architectural treasure dating from 1540, used to be in the town centre.

Also long claimed by the sea is Slaughden, the birthplace of poet George Crabbe, whose stories about local fisherman were lifted by Benjamin Britten in his opera Peter Grimes. The composer, whose name is almost synonymous with the town, founded the Aldeburgh Festival, with performances initially in local churches before moving to former malthouses in nearby Snape.

Crucially, Aldeburgh does not have its own train station. "The nearest station is in Saxmundham and services to London are limited," says Talfryn Llewellyn, of Bidwells estate agents. "So Aldeburgh has very few people who commute on a daily basis. Most properties are second homes, and many owners live there all summer, and during Christmas and Easter. Houses sell extremely well over the summer because the town is seasonal. It is bleak in November."

Properties also command a premium. "People often say that they can't buy anything worth owning for less than £300,000," says Llewellyn.

Why the premium? "The area is unspoiled, Aldeburgh has a picture-postcard high street, the restaurants are excellent, the shops are good, and the music festival attracts people of an artistic bent," he adds. Chronic scarcity is also a factor: "Few properties come on the market because they tend to get passed down," says Llewellyn, who grew up in Aldeburgh and visits often.

THE LOW-DOWN

Getting there

Saxmundham is eight miles from Aldeburgh. Ipswich (25 miles) is the nearest main station.

Aldeburgh A, B, C

Created a life peer in June 1976, Baron Britten of Aldeburgh was the first musician or composer to be elevated to the peerage. Aldeburgh claims other firsts: the first woman mayor of a British town, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, who is also celebrated at the country's first woman doctor. The Church of St Peter and St Paul contains a statue of the poet (and its curate) George Crabbe (1754-1832).

The Arts

In addition to the Aldeburgh Festival in June, Snape Maltings hosts a series of concerts in August. An annual poetry festival is held in November. Performances at the Aldeburgh Theatre include Sandy Wilson's The Boy Friend (20-31 July) and Edward Taylor's Murder by Misadventure (3-7 August).

Prices

Below £200,000, a two-bedroom flat above a high-street shop in Aldeburgh is about £185,000 at Bedfords (01728 454505). Outside town, a two-bedroom cottage in Tunstall is £165,000, a modern four-bedroom semi in Leiston is £179,000, and a grade II listed three-bedroom townhouse in Saxmundham is about £195,000 at Jennie Jones.

Family Homes

A three-bedroom house in Church Farm with garage and walled courtyard garden is £250,000, a three-bedroom, town centre Victorian semi is £275,000, and a four bedroom detached in Church Farm is £295,000, at Flick & Son (01728 452469).

Conversion

Mariner's House has yielded two unusual modern conversions. The two-bedroom Porthole Cottage has a 30ft open plan kitchen/living room, terrace and tiered garden, for about £325,000. Mariner's Loft is a two-bedroom, two-storey flat with two L-shaped rooms, for about £285,000, at Bedfords.

Top rung

The eight-year-old Fiddlers has five bedrooms, galleried reception, playroom/office and double garage on just under one acre, for about £700,000. The 15-year-old five-bedroom Brick Dock House has a swimming pool, balcony, roof terrace, and 4,434 internal sq ft, for about £735,000 at FPDSavills (01473 239886). The five-bedroom Cherry House has a former tennis court, now a lawn, and a sauna, c.£895,000 at Jackson-Stops.

Grade II listed

3 Crespigny House is a south-facing five-bedroom freehold flat in a Regency (1775) townhouse with sea and river views, c.£525,000 at Flick & Son and Bidwells. Originally a single residence, the house did time as a grammar school and residence for the elderly before being converted into four units 15 years ago.

Retirement

English Courtyard Resales are selling two two-bedroom retirement cottages with garage and patio garden at Northfield Court, £285,000 and £315,000 (01494 689026).

Estate agents

Bedfords, 01728 454505; Bidwells, 01473 611644; Flick & Son, 01728 452469; FPDSavills, 01473 239886; Jackson-Stops, 01473 218218; Jennie Jones, 01728 454622.

Comments