The Gables, Aldeburgh, Suffolk - large self catering holiday cottage


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In this section, you will find useful information to assist you in planning your self-catering cottage holiday in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, East Anglia.

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The Gables, Aldeburgh, Suffolk : Holiday Cottage Information

The Thompson Family

William Frederic Thompson, asThe first connection between the Thompson family and Aldeburgh was in the 1880s, when William Frederic Thompson, my great grandfather, took a lease on The Gables as a weekend and holiday house to escape London.

He and his wife, Marie Charlotte, lived at 44 Russell Road, Kensington. He was a barrister and a golfer. He captained the Golf Club in 1892, and was also Aldeburgh's longest serving mayor from 1911-1919. It was not until 1913 that he bought the house. In 1920, he added the back extension (containing the first bathroom!), and also added the bay windows to the front.

William Frederic was a close friend of Edward Clodd, the writer and anthropologist, who lived at Strafford House on Crag Path and who popularised Darwin's theory of evolution.

William Frederic, his wife Charlotte and their three children form the top row in the rogues' gallery on the first floor landing. An interesting footnote is that the myrtle bush on the left of the lawn was grown from a sprig of myrtle taken from my great grandmother's wedding bouquet.

William Frederic's father was Rev James William, whose portrait hangs in the dining room. James William was Rector of Lincoln College, Oxford, which explains the prints and coat of arms.

On William's death in 1921, The Gables passed to his daughter, Edith, whose home it was until her death in 1961. Great Aunt Edith was an eminent educationalist (Governor of Bedford College, London University, and numerous women's colleges and schools) and also a pioneer in womens hockey. She took touring teams to virtually every country in the world that was (then) coloured pink on the map. For her services in the war, she received the CBE. Interestingly, my father, Oliver, continued Edith's interest in education, being instrumental in the founding of City University; indeed, the main lecture theatre at City University is named after him.

Every summer when Edith went travelling, my parents and I and my three sisters would move in for the holidays (see image of Thompson family at The Gables). The journey from our home in Cobham, Surrey would take the best part of a day in an old American Ford, all six of us inside, plus four bicycles and a sack of potatoes on the roof.

When Edith died in 1961, she left The Gables to her five nephews and nieces. A letter from my father Oliver written after the reading of the will describes the house as being in a poor state and needing to be sold as soon as possible. My mother, Phyl, had other ideas! Since then it has been a holiday house for countless family and friends.

In 1977, my parents decided to retire to Aldeburgh and built 32 Park Road, the house on stilts across the road, on the site of The Gables' vegetable garden. That house was sold after my mother died in October 2006.

Over the winter of 2005/2006, Charlotte and I and my sons James and Ollie undertook the first major renovation of the house since 1920. Our aim was to retain the warm feeling of a Victorian family house, while at the same time bringing it up to date in terms of bathrooms and kitchen and creating more sitting areas (when the Gables was built the entire top floor would have been accommodation for staff).

Hugh Pilkington, of Gedgrave near Orford, was the architect in charge and Blackburns of Harleston, Norfolk were the building contractors. The interiors were all done by my sister, Francie Readman of Francie Readman Interiors, Thorpe le Soken, and all curtains and blinds were made by Barbara Turvey of Fast & Loose, Bishopstone, Salisbury. Loose covers were by Sue Geary of Fordingbridge. Most of the furniture, books and pictures were inherited from my Great Aunt in 1961, and were restored and refurbished wherever necessary. The main exceptions are the oak table in the kitchen, made to order by The Walnut Tree Workshop, Breamore, and the window seat in the sitting room made by yours truly in December 2007. We returned the kitchen to its original position, incorporated the loggia into the sitting room, and added two bathrooms.

The first of the sixth generation Thompsons, Beatrice Mary Georgia  daughter of James and Annabel, arrived in June 2012 and had her first visit three months later.

We hope it is now fit to look after a few more generations of Thompsons - and our many regular visitors!

G Thompson

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