The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Peter Pan village under threat!

Thorpeness is unique—it’s a fantasy holiday village on the Suffolk coast themed on Peter Pan.  It was the brainchild of Glencairn Stuart Oglivie who founded it in 1909. It is an early precursor to the later themed resorts that are popular today all over the world–such as Club Med and it predates Disney Land by almost half a century.

The whimsical neo-Tudor village turns its back to the sea and surrounds an artificial lake—the Meare.  Used for family boating, the Meare has islands complete with Peter Pan’s and Wendy’s hideouts and even a crocodile.  For many decades the village survived remarkably unaltered—but now it is being forced to “grow up” — and the C20 Society is objecting.

The Twentieth Century Society is highly concerned that the integrity of Thorpeness is under serious threat. With the popularity of the holiday village growing as a prime property hotspot, there are now plans to demolish and rebuild Barn Hall, the Neo Tudor former estates office located at the heart of Thorpeness. This key building, which is now operating as a café, is to be replaced with a residential development—the latest in a recent run of proposals which are eroding the unique character of a magical place.

A few of the most architecturally ambitious buildings in the village are protected by being listed—such as the famous “House in the Clouds” and the Windmill.  In theory the overall character of the whole village should be preserved by its Conservation Area status.  But it looks as if this is a case where Conservation Area designation counts for nothing.

Barn Hall is not listed, but it is located in prime location just by the Meare, across the picturesque village green with its pond. Planning permission is now in place to tear down Barn Hall and replace it with three new residential units. “If this is allowed to happen then there is nothing standing in the way of knocking down and rebuilding all of the still unlisted buildings in Thorpeness. Nothing of this original building will be left and with this the whole village will be at risk,” says Eva Branscome, Case Officer for the Twentieth Century Society who is fighting to save this building.