The Vintage House in the seaside town of Aldeburgh on the east coast of England is a holiday cottage which still has the original furnishings bought for the house in 1928. Always on the quest for a genuine immersive historical experience, I spent a night there in February to see if it lived up to expectations.
The coastal town of Aldeburgh in Suffolk was once a thriving Tudor port, much of which has now disappeared into the sea. The town is now better known for its musical, artistic and literary associations, its huge blue flag shingle beach, and as a holiday location. Tourists visit to enjoy a traditional seaside holiday, complete with pastel coloured villas lining the promenade, award winning fish and chip shops, ice creams and to watch the sunsets over the North Sea.
It is a good base for those looking for a cultural holiday too. The composer Benjamin Britten lived here and he started up the Aldeburgh Festival of Music and the Arts, which has taken place every June since 1948. The house that he shared with tenor Peter Pears is open to the public, as is his studio and the festival hall he created at nearby Snape Maltings. The church where they are buried has an extensive graveyard, a John Piper window and is open to the public.
Moot Hall, a 16th century building, stands near the sea and now houses the Aldeburgh Museum, which is packed full of artefacts and information for the curious. A Martello tower stands near the sea, the most northerly of a chain of squat concrete towers built in the 19th century to keep Napoleon and his armies out.
An Art Deco cinema with a mock Tudor exterior provides entertainment, and only a few minutes drive away is Orford Castle, the 12th century keep, described as one of the most remarkable keeps in England. Sutton Hoo, the famous burial site of an Anglo Saxon king, is only a thirty minute drive away.
The Vintage House is on Saxmundham Road, which is the main road into Aldeburgh, making it easy to find. Set back behind a large front garden, parking is on the road outside. We parked precariously on a verge and headed inside.
Entering the house, we couldn’t wait to explore. With darkly painted wooden doors, wooden floorboards and buttercup yellow walls throughout, it is clear that a lot of attention had gone into keeping the house as historically accurate as possible. The dining room, with its burnt orange tiled fireplace, wireless and bookshelf filled with old books, had a round wooden table covered in an embroidered cloth, topped with a bottle of red wine, glasses and some biscuits. It was a delightful welcome for both of us.
We headed next into the kitchen, which still had its original cast iron range, as well as a proper pantry, something I have always secretly coveted. Concessions were made to modern life here, but most of the gadgets were hidden out of sight in the pantry, and the overwhelming impression was one of a wood and stone flagged floor, a large white butler’s sink and a view through the back door to the large, green back garden.
The sitting room was equally delightful, with a polished wooden sideboard, a large tiled fireplace and brass candlesticks and a traditional sofa and chairs.
Upstairs were four rooms; a double and a twin, both with wooden floorboards, wooden furniture and the late evening sun streaming in through the windows.
A large bathroom with roll top bath, traditional WC and sink was next to a tiny room called The Newsom Room. Filled with memorabilia from the past; old black and white photographs, books, games and ornaments, it gives a glimpse into the lives of the original owners of the house.
The house was in an excellent location as it only took us five minutes to walk down the road to reach a choice of two supermarkets, where we stocked up on food, logs and matches. We then spent a lovely evening in. I just had to have a bath in the huge tub, reading one of the vintage books and drinking the red wine, before we settled down in front of the fire, ignoring the TV that was on offer and just listening to the crackle of the logs in the decreasing light, relishing the sense of isolation from the modern world.
The house felt very genuine and authentic, from the décor and polished, dark furniture to the creaking wooden floorboards and old fashioned light switches. The large windows let in plenty of light which streamed in, even in February. We both had a very comfortable night and were genuinely sad to leave the following day and confront the real world again. It had felt like spending time in a 1920s bubble, and is a memory I will always cherish.
STAYING AT THE VINTAGE HOUSE IN ALDEBURGH
You can book a stay at The Vintage House through Best of Suffolk