Voted the 'Weirdest Village in England' by Bizarre magazine in 2003, Thorpeness lies two miles north of Aldeburgh on the Suffolk coast. Originally a small fishing hamlet in the late 19th century, the village and many miles of land surrounding it were bought in 1910 by Glencairn Stuart Ogilvie, a Scottish barrister. Though most of the land was used for farming Ogilvie developed Thorpeness into a private fantasy village to which he invited his friends and colleagues and their families during the summer months. Many of the holiday homes were built in his favourite Jacobean and Tudor Revival styles, and a notable feature of the village is a set of almshouses built in the 1920s.
At the heart of Thorpeness is The Meare, an artificially created shallow boating lake covering 3 acres. One of Ogilvie's personal friends was J M Barrie, the author of Peter Pan; several small streams at various points off the lake have landings marked with a Peter Pan theme, and the tiny islands contain locations found in the book, such as Wendy's home and the Pirates Lair and many others where kids are encouraged to play - there's even a crocodile on one of the islands. A variety of non-motorised boats can be hired by the hour and many of these are the original ones from when the lake was first created. The highlight of the summer season is the Thorpeness Regatta at the end of August; boat races are held during the day and at night decorated boats are paraded round the lake, followed by a huge firework display.
Thorpeness is full of quirky buildings and the best just has to be the House in the Clouds. Originally built as a water tower in the early 1920s the huge water tank at the top was visible above the surrounding trees so Ogilvie had it disguised as a weatherboarded house to look more in keeping with the rest of the village. The water tower was eventually made redundant in the late 1970s, the tank was removed and the building fully converted into a 5-storey house with a huge games room at the top; it's now used as very expensive holiday accommodation, and seen from various parts of the village the top part of the house really does look like it's in the clouds.
So - weird, quirky, unusual, unique; Thorpeness isn't a big place but however you want to describe it it's definitely worth visiting more than once. Photos of the village can be found in my posts from September 4th 2013 and September 6th 2012.