Snape has a rich history: from being the site of a Saxon burial ship, discovered in 1862 and dating back to between AD410 and AD650, the village is also listed in the Domesday Book survey ordered by William the Conqueror in 1086. By 1155 the village had a Priory built by William Martell, a local landowner, who later took part in the Third Crusade. The Priory remained open until 1525 when Cardinal Wolsey closed it and stripped it of its assets. It was the monks of this priory who built the bridge which still stands in the village.
The River Alde at Snape.
Photo credit: Andrew McDonald
In more recent times Snape has perhaps become best known for its association with composer Benjamin Britten who lived here between 1937-1947. It was during his time here that Britten produced some of his best-known work including his first opera, Peter Grimes. In a letter to a close friend Britten claimed that to him Snape was ‘…just heaven’.
Inside the concert hall at Snape.
Photo credit: amandabhslater
The composer’s influence on the area remains strong in the Aldeburgh Festival which he founded, along with singer Peter Pears and writer Eric Crozier, in 1948. The festival was initially held in local churches and halls before finding a permanent home on the site of the Victorian maltings at Snape where the old malthouse was transformed into an 832-seat venue. The festival grew, eventually spilling out into more buildings to establish a centre for talented young musicians, and remains a world-renowned cultural mecca. Having previously and repeatedly refused knighthood, Britten accepted a peerage as Baron Britten of Aldeburgh in the County of Suffolk in 1976.
Photo credit: Dave Press
The old maltings, home to the Aldeburgh Festival and a host of shops and restaurants, has placed Snape Maltings firmly on the list of great places to visit on the Suffolk Coast. The riverside complex of converted Victorian buildings is also home to an RSPB centre, allowing visitors to experience the abundance of wildlife that inhabits the surrounding marshes. The tidal river is home to an array of migrating birds and other wildlife making it an ideal destination for bird watchers and nature lovers.
River Trips have begun again this summer at the Snape Maltings operated bythe team from Waveney River Tours. The river trips sail on the tide and last for approximately one hour. The journey from the Maltings travels along the Estuary to Iken Cliff and back to the Maltings. This estuary is a haven for wildlife and this is evident with the RSPB now having a permanent base at Snape Maltings.
The Avocet, one of the many birds to be found along the Suffolk coast.
Photo credit: Gidzy
At a time when other villages and towns throughout the country are struggling to keep local amenities, Snape is fortunate enough to have a post office, three pubs, a local football team and several community groups for youngsters and the elderly, and is home to over 600 residents.
Whether enjoying an afternoon of browsing the gift shops in the Maltings, or a lazy walk on the marshes finished off with a pint of Adnams in one of the village pubs, Snape is a must-visit destination for anyone who wants to sample the beauty and atmosphere the Suffolk coastal countryside has become famous for, whatever the season.
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