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Freston Tower © David Parker / vividmind.uk

11 Suffolk places fit for a bond villain

To celebrate the release of Spectre, we took a turn for the nefarious and unearthed some of the glamorous, grand, isolated and frankly bizarre places in Suffolk fit for that most eclectic group of criminal masterminds: Bond villains.

Martello Tower, Aldeburgh

Martello Tower in Aldeburgh (c) Landmark Trust

Stay safe from your enemies in this unique Martello Tower
Photo (c) The Landmark Trust

Braced against the waves on the edge of the Suffolk coast, with panoramic views and walls as thick oak trees, there is no safer lair for a Bond villain than Martello Tower in Aldeburgh. The biggest of these defensive towers ever constructed, and unique in its quatrefoil shape, Martello Tower CC was originally built to keep out Napoleon’s armies. Today Martello Tower can be rented as a holiday home (and is surprisingly affordable, even if your not a filthy rich criminal). It’s an artistic location, too: cultural Aldeburgh is just a stone’s throw away, and the tower itself is topped by a sculpture by Antony Gormley. Inside, with a fire burning in the stove, you can sit back and listen to the waves crashing against the walls as you plot to take over the world… Or you can just relax and read a book.

Dragon House, West Hall

Dragon House at Belle Grove Barns (c) Belle Grove BarnsUnleash your evil eccentricity at Belle Grove Barns
Photo (c) Belle Grove Barns
Dragon House is straight from the pages of a fairy tale: its curved windows peer out like suspicious eyes, and scaling its chimney is a big, black dragon. It’s a house fit for an eccentric Bond villain, but it actually houses two ordinary people called Nick and Jo. Nick and Jo designed and built Dragon House, and live in it while they manage the collection of cottages around it, known collectively as Belle Grove Barns. Any curious malefactor looking for interior design inspiration can take a tour of Dragon House on one of the monthly ‘Invitation to View’ days; alternatively, you could stay in one of the cottages overlooking the house, all of which are magical in their own right.

The old rectory country house, near Lavenham

The Old Rectory Country House in SuffolkBe an old-school Bond villain at the Old Rectory Country House
Photo (c) The Old Rectory Country House
For the old school Bond villain who likes to finish the day by the fireside with a warm brandy brought by a butler, the Old Rectory Country House near Lavenham is sheer perfection. Classically Georgian on the outside, the inside is furnished with ornate oak paneling from the 1700s and hand-carved four-poster beds. Did we mention there’s a butler?

The house in the clouds, Thorpeness

The House in the Clouds in SuffolkGive wings to your wicked plans at the House in the Clouds
Photo (c) Martin Pettitt
Sprung from the madcap mind of a rich Scotsman intent on building his own private fantasy village, the House in the Clouds in Thorpeness is ideal for Bond villains with a penchant for outlandish schemes. Once an ugly water tower, the House in the Clouds was transformed by Glencairn Stuart Ogilvie into a floating holiday home overlooking Thorpeness Golf Course (itself designed by another Scot, James Braid). For a sizeable sum you can rent it and challenge your nemesis to a game of pool on the top floor, for sky-high stakes.

Freston Tower, Shotley Peninsula

Survey the world from on high at Freston Tower
Photo (c) David Park / vividmind.uk
The Bond-villain equivalent of an ivory tower, this lofty folly is spread over six narrow storeys, and is a great place to look down on the world while stroking your beard and feeling superior. If you’re not a despotic maniac in search of absolute dominion, you can still enjoy a stay at Freston Tower and the incredible views it commands of the Orwell valley.

West Stow Hall, Near Bury St Edmunds

West Stow Hall in SuffolkEvade capture in the countryside at West Stow Hall
Photo (c) West Stow Hall
The spectacular 16th century mansion of West Stow Hall is a great hideaway for any Bond villains on the run. It’s set amid acres of woodland and gardens in a quiet corner of west Suffolk, near Bury St Edmunds and the village of West Stow, an Anglo-Saxon name that means ‘deserted place.’ Hiding here in plain sight, you can escape your worldly troubles and evade 007 and the pesky MI5. It’s just a shame the moat has been filled in…

The Dune House, Thorpeness

The Dune House in Thorpeness, Suffolk (c) Living ArchitectureAwait Bond at this hideaway in the dunes
Photo (c) Living Architecture
Concealed among the rolling dunes near Thorpeness, evil-genius dwellings don’t come more spectacular than this. The Dune House was created by Living Architecture and Norwegian architects, Jarmund/Visgnæs. The nautical upper floor is built from timber planks, and appears to float above the lower, which commands 360o views of the sea and shifting coastal landscape. Cool, modern, dramatic – it’s the perfect end scene for a Bond film. Or just an amazing place to spend a holiday.

Tuddenham Mill, Near bury St Edmunds

Champagne at Tuddenham Mill in Suffolk (c) Tuddenham MillDine out on deviousness at Tuddenham Mill
Photo (c) Tuddenham Mill
Not only does the Tuddenham Mill have its own helipad for all your luxury travel needs, it’s got some pretty stunning rooms to boot. This converted water mill would be where a Bond villain came on holiday, especially one who enjoys exquisite food, because Tuddenham Mill boasts the Best Set Lunch Menu in the country, according to the editors of the Good Food Guide. Dine another day, anyone?

The Jockey Club Rooms, Newmarket

Inside the Jockey Club Rooms in Newmarket, Suffolk (c) JCRHold a secret conference at the Jockey Club Rooms
Photo (c) The Jockey Club Rooms
For 250 years, the Jockey Club in Newmarket has held the secrets of the racing world behind its doors. Filled with classic oil paintings, luxurious drapes and antique furniture, it’s easy to picture clandestine meetings occurring at this prestigious members’ club between the baddest of old school Bond villains. If you can’t beat them, you might as well join them, and stay in one of the historic Jockey Club Rooms.

The Balancing Barn, Near Halesworth

The Balancing Barn in SuffolkBe bad in style at the Balancing Barn
Photo (c) Living Architecture
Suspended over an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Balancing Barn near Halesworth is perfect for Bond villains who like living on the edge. Another creation from the Living Architecture company, the Balancing Barn appears to teeter like a see-saw on the edge of tipping, its glass floor providing a window to the earth below. Ultra-modern and chic, especially on the inside, this is where a Bond villain can be bad and look good doing it.

Stoke by Nayland Country Lodges, Constable Country

View from Stoke by Nayland Country LodgesOut-golf your enemies at Stoke by Nayland Country Lodges
Photo (c) Stoke by Nayland Country Lodges
What better way for a Bond villain to discuss business with an enemy than over a civilized game of golf? At Stoke by Nayland Country Lodges you can stay classy while you plot your evil deeds in a luxury apartment, practice your game on one of two Championship golf courses, train with your henchman in the Technogym, and de-stress with a massage in the spa (it’s tiring being an evil genius, after all).

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