Gallery: Celebrations mark 100th anniversary of ‘timeless’ Thorpeness Meare

Celebration of the 100th anniversary of Thorpeness Meare.

Celebration of the 100th anniversary of Thorpeness Meare. - Credit: Archant

There was a party like atmosphere as families and friends gathered to mark the centenary of a timeless favourite.

The fairytale like Thorpeness Meare was 100 years old today - sparking an afternoon of celebration.

Coined “The Children’s Paradise”, the large boating lake caused quite a stir when it first opened on June 11, 1913, with fascinated families eager to see the latest addition to barrister and playwright Glencairn Stuart Ogilvie’s fantasy village.

Work had begun on creating “The New Suffolk Seaside Resort” the previous year – but it was the meare, with its many curious islands inspired by Ogilvie’s friend and Peter Pan author JM Barrie, that would become the village’s centrepiece.

The celebrations paid tribute to the founder’s vision, which has created a firm favourite for generations of families.


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The proceedings were overseen by Ogilvie’s great grandson, Glen, who was also joined by Lord Huntingfield, whose great, great uncle attended the launch as guest of honour in 1913.

The celebrations started with the presentation of a replica flag, exactly the same as that flown 100 years ago. The original ensign was also presented to Mr Ogilvie as a surprise. Both he and Lord Huntingfield then boarded the same rowing boats upon which their ancestors embarked a century ago to re-create one of the photographs from that day.

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Praising his great grandfather’s vision Mr Ogilvie said: “In many ways the meare is timeless. That’s the critical thing. It’s why his idea works as well now as it did 100 years ago. The reason why we haven’t changed it is not because we couldn’t be bothered, it was very much a positive decision. People return with their own children 20 or 30 years after they first visited and they say it’s exactly how they remember it. It gives us huge pleasure to see families coming back again and again.”

Mr Ogilvie said he was delighted with the success of the celebrations and paid tribute to everyone who had worked so hard to make the day happen.

Lord Huntingfield said the meare was a “jewel of a place” that had brought nothing but fun and excitement to generations of families. “It is beautifully maintained and hasn’t changed,” he said. “It is a wonderful achievement.”

Craig Block, has been boatsman on the meare since 1990, following in the footsteps of his father, Ted. He said :”It’s completely unique. I don’t know anywhere else in England where you would find somewhere like this. It is 64 acres of water and only 3ft deep so it’s completely safe for children of a relatively young age. Families come back again and again. It’s very sweet.”

Attentions will now turn to the 100th anniversary of the first ever Thorpeness Regatta, which takes place on August 22 and 23.

To mark the centenary year Mr Ogilvie has teamed up with Sarah Gammon to compile a limited edition book on the history for Thorpeness. To order a copy - available for collection from August 18 - email themeare100@gmail.com or visit www.themeareatthorpeness.co.uk. They will also be on general sale from August 26 from Aldeburgh and Leiston bookshops.

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