You Unplugged

Shortlist symbol Add to shortlist button.

Thorpeness Meare (c) Karen Roe


With Peter Pan islands, boats in every shade of the rainbow, and plenty of secrets to uncover, Thorpeness Meare is the centrepiece of this fantastic village on the Suffolk coast.
Thorpeness Meare (c) Karen RoeExplore Thorpeness Meare in one of these colourful boats
Photo (c) Karen Roe
Thorpeness was the dream of wealthy Scottish barrister Glencairn Stuart Ogilvie. Originally a fishing hamlet called Thorpe in what would later be designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it was seen by Ogilvie as the perfect place to create an adult playground for his family and friends. Once complete, he renamed it Thorpeness to distinguish it from all the other Thorpes in East Anglia, and one of the most unique villages in the country was born.
Much is made of the famous House in the Clouds at Thorpeness, the disguised water tower, but without the Meare the village would be much the poorer. Including the islands and surrounds, the Meare covers over sixty acres of ground, and the whole thing was dug out by hand. It may be wide, but at no point is it more than three feet deep, Ogilvie’s intention was that children from a very young age could learn to punt, sail and row in comparative safety.
Thorpeness Meare (c) Karen RoeThorpeness Meare is full of islands and secret waterways
Photo (c) Karen Roe
The idea for the lake was sparked by one of Ogilvie’s close friends, or rather one of their books. J.M. Barrie, creator of Peter Pan, knew the barrister well, and it was Barrie’s tales of the Neverland that inspired him to create the Meare. This is why, when you explore the tiny islands, coves, and creeks, you’ll find the Pirate’s Lair, Wendy’s Home, and Captain’s House amongst many others. The eagle-eyed may even spot a crocodile in between the trees, not ticking though, thankfully.
A century on and the Meare is still a fantastic water playground. It’s open every summer until the end of October half-term, and these days there are over 100 boats for hire including rowing boats, kayaks, canoes, punts, dinghies, and sailing boats meaning there is a vessel to suit everyone. It was once dubbed ‘The Child’s Paradise’ by Ogilvie, and despite the long intervening years, the name still fits.


We have lots of information on family fun in Suffolk, including Why Kids Love Suffolk, and some great ideas for multiple generations. And if you're planning a family holiday in Suffolk, we'd love to hear about it via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!