Sea Bathing and the first Noble Visitors
A steady if unspectacular trade with London continued through the eighteenth Century. The end of Marlborough’s wars, however, meant unemployment for a lot of seamen. Many of them took to smuggling on a large scale. If the coastguards could neither be bribed nor terrorised, the smugglers fought them. In 1727, they caught a conscientious officer near Snape and sliced off his nose.
Then, alongside considerable poverty, sea-bathing began to be fashionable. In 1764 comes one of the first mentions of a bathing machine: ‘…there is a curious machine that by the assistance of a single person may be run into the sea to any depth proper for bathing’.
By 1800 Aldeburgh, ‘impoverished and depopulated by the encroachment of the sea, was hastening to decay, but then the titled families, encouraged by the Hanoverian craze for the sea, began to recognise Aldeburgh and preferred it to the crowded beaches of the South Coast’. (From early guide book). Roads were improved and superior houses built, as were the Town Steps.
The first member of the nobility to patronise Aldeburgh was the first Marquis of Salisbury who built the Great Casino – now Thellusson Lodge.
Between 1826-46 Aldeburgh Meare was drained by the Black Mill near Sluice Cottage between Aldeburgh and Thorpe. All trace of the mill has gone now; the cottage is a ruin; the land has become an RSPB bird reserve.