Saltings & Maltings

I promised in my last East Anglia posting that the Orfordness Light was my next objective, and indeed the next day it was, but first I needed to find my accommodation for the night, necessitating a journey up the coast a little.

Along the way I stopped off at a spot that clearly has some significance for a little-known writer of wizarding adventures.  JK Rowling named one of the most important characters of her Harry Potter novels Snape after the village which marks an important crossing on the River Alde.  There has been a settlement here at least since Roman times (evidence of salt pans from then has been found on the river), but it was the production of another ingredient that gave Snape greater significance.  Malt.

Barley had long been exported from the area and Snape’s position on the river made it an obvious choice to load barges with the grain, but in the mid 19th Century a complex was built that would malt the barley for the production of beer in London and the continent.  The Snape Maltings would operate in this way for over a century.

Eventually the market shifted (much as the nearby shingle) and the Maltings went into liquidation, and might have been demolished but for the vision of a local farmer, George Gooderham, who bought the derelict site and began a remarkable transformation.

Snape Maltings today is an internationally recognised concert venue, but also comprises holiday and residential properties, shops, rehearsal rooms, galleries, and places to eat and drink.  It is a thriving tourist attraction set in beautiful grounds where Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, and an uncontroversial Sarah Lucas, vie for your attention.  What’s more some of the complex remains undeveloped so there is still untapped potential.

I couldn’t get into the concert hall to take pictures.  It didn’t seem to matter though.