Local Knowledge: Returning To The Past At Snape Maltings
Hi welcome to my blog, I've decided to start this blog during 'lockdown' as I find myself having slightly more time than usual and would like it to be a nice addition to my website which is under some exciting new developments, I will be dedicating this blog to everything interiors and design in my local area of Suffolk, with an emphasis on supporting local craftsmen and businesses.
Last week I went to Snape Maltings on a little sourcing mission for a current project of mine. This place has a special place in my heart, I remember many weekends my parents would take me when I was young and we would search through its treasure troves of wonderful boutiques. It a well known cultural hub at the heart of the Suffolk countryside, offering homeware, art galleries, antique shops, craft shops, live music concerts and farmer markets...have a look on their website here for more information on upcoming events.
This historical industrial site stretches back over 175 years, the roots of Snape Maltings as it exists today were planted by the composer Benjamin Britten and landowner George Gooderham as part of the Aldeburgh Festival, who both recognised the potential of the striking Maltings buildings.
As you first approach Snape Malting you notice the striking 19th-century industrial-era architecture. Snape Maltings was originally built by Newson Garret, having already created a busy shipping port at Snape Bridge in 1841, the victorian industrial entrepreneur built Snape Maltings in order to malt barley and ship it by Thames barge to breweries in London and elsewhere. The business thrived throughout for decades as demand from breweries increased. At full industrial use in the Snape Maltings grew to some seven acres of buildings and was one of the largest flat floor maltings in the country.
After 120 years of production, the malting of barley ceased in 1965, this was a direct result of inefficiencies of having such a large complex. Shortly after the site was purchased by Suffolk farmer George Gooderham.
Meanwhile, the composer Benjamin Britten had founded the Aldeburgh Festival of Music and the Arts, five miles from Snape, in 1948 and the festival quickly established an international reputation, outgrowing its small venues in Aldeburgh and other locations around the Suffolk coast. This became the home of the Aldeburgh Festival and a venue internationally renowned for the superb quality of its acoustic. It was one of the earliest examples of an industrial building being repurposed for arts use. As you walk around you can see why this place has been so successful, even today, each building has its own architectural language and typology making it easy to create smaller individual venues but connected as a creative campus of Music, Dance, Arts, Exhibitions, Shops and Food.
One of my favourite things to see at Snape is this sculpture by the Artist, Barbara Hepworth with a stunning backdrop of the Marshes. The river and surrounding marshes give the place a set of astounding natural beauty.
Thanks for reading.