22. Sep, 2020


Benjamin Britten, Suffolk’s iconic composer and his partner once lived and worked here. The Red House, just outside the village (GPS: N52.165072º E1.588092º), is now the home of the Britten-Pears Foundation, where you can discover where the musical magic took place. The Studio where Britten composed is open to visitors all year-round, as is the Gallery, the historic Library and the Gardens. The site is open annually from March to October with special events programmed in November to December.

We wandered around enjoying the lovely sunny weather, before deciding on an early lunch of fish & chips before heading out of town.

That's when things went a bit wrong.

The Chef had agreed to our taking a look at Snape Maltings, which I thought was on the way to our booked campsite for the night, so it wouldn't have taken us out of our way, and I had already done a bit of research on it before we set out on the trip. So off we went. Unfortunately when we arrived (N52.163507° E1.495751°), there was no available parking for a vehicle our size. So that was that, after all my efforts we couldn't get in. Never mind, I shall share the information and pictures I downloaded from the internet anyhow, just in case you should ever want to visit yourself:

Snape Maltings is an arts complex on the banks of the River Alde at Snape, Suffolk. It is best known for its concert hall, which is one of the main sites of the annual Aldeburgh Festival.

The original purpose of the Maltings was the malting of barley for the brewing of beer; local barley, once malted, was sent from here to London and exported to mainland Europe. Today a collection of shops, galleries, restaurants and the Concert Hall fill the old buildings. The Alde Estuary is known for wildlife and river trips.


Newson Garrett, a Victorian entrepreneur, built the Maltings in the 1800s; his name appears on plaques around the site. The river made Garrett decide to build a Maltings at this already busy port. Newson was ambitious and determined and in 1841 purchased the business of Osborne and Fennell, corn and coal merchants of Snape Bridge. From this port the Maltings began to evolve, using the River Alde to transport barley across Britain and into Europe on Thames barges. Within three years of his arrival, Newson Garrett was shipping 17,000 quarters of barley a year from Snape. Much of this barley would have been destined for breweries, where it had first to be malted. Newson saw an opportunity. Snape was in the heart of good agricultural land, and halfway between the brewing area of Norwich and London. Demand from the London breweries was growing fast, and it was becoming impractical to make malt and brew beer on the same premises. In 1854 he began malting at Snape, and was soon shipping malt, rather than barley to the breweries.

The Maltings process at Snape came to an end in the 1960s as Swonnell and Son went into liquidation and seven acres of industrial buildings were left vacant. Thirty acres of land was offered for sale, including dwellings and an inn. It was difficult to imagine how such functional structures could be put to different use. However George Gooderham, a local farmer and businessman, recognised the potential. He purchased the site and set about finding alternative uses for the buildings.

The composer Benjamin Britten was inspired by the vast skies and moody seas of the Suffolk coast, and in 1948, along with singer Peter Pears and writer Eric Crozier, he founded the Aldeburgh Festival. Britten and Pears made a point of educating and supporting young artists. They brought together international stars and emerging talent, including world-renowned figures such as Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Yehudi Menuhin,Sviatoslav Richter and Mstislav Rostropovich, and young stars in the making such as Elisabeth Söderström and Julian Bream.

At first the Festival used local halls and churches but in 1967 following successful negotiations with George Gooderham, Britten and Pears created a permanent home at Snape, 5 miles from Aldeburgh, by converting the Victorian maltings into an 832-seat venue. Within five years Britten and Pears had reclaimed more buildings on the site to establish a centre for talented young musicians.

In 2006 Aldeburgh Music purchased a 999-year lease of the Snape Maltings Concert Hall, investing around £14 million in new studios and rehearsal spaces which came into use in 2009. The "Creative Campus" at Snape Maltings has four performance venues (from 70 to 830 capacity) and over 20 rehearsal and public spaces.