Such is the popularity of Walberswick, a village in the middle of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the opposite side of the River Blyth from Southwold, that it was recently reported that 107 of the 315 houses in the village, or 34%, are second homes, a phenomenon which is currently facing a backlash, intensified by the recession, from locals fed up with second home owners pushing up prices and putting the price of property out of reach of many local residents. The village was once a thriving port, trading in a variety of foodstuffs and timber, but nowadays the main source of income is tourism. The centrepiece of the village is the church of St Andrew, surrounded by the haunting ruins of an earlier construction, the size of which provides a clue to the earlier wealth enjoyed by this location. Until 2010, Walberswick’s big event of the year was the annual British Open Crabbing Championship, but this year, as a sign of the nannying times we live in, the event has been cancelled due to safety fears over the number of people wanting to take part, causing much gnashing of teeth on the part of crabbing devotees.
Further up the Blyth from Walberswick is the village of Blythburgh, which sits next to a tidal lagoon, Blythburgh Water, a haven for mud-loving birds. Like Walberswick, Blythburgh was once a thriving port. It even had its own mint and a jail. However, as has so often been the case, the silting up of the river led to the demise of the port’s activities. In another parallel with Walberswick, Blythburgh has an impressive church, the Church of the Holy Trinity, which can be seen from miles around. The church was desecrated by the men of Thomas Cromwell, an advocate of the English Reformation, who used the winged angels of the ceiling for target practice.
Map of the area.