9:41 am February 14, 2022
The pavilion is proving to be the perfect spot for a family holiday on the Suffolk coast, as Rachel Ducker notes.
With its impressive castle, quaint cottages, picturesque quay and riverside setting, it’s no wonder Orford is a popular weekend destination on the Suffolk coast. Add in the famous oyster and smokehouse, cozy pubs and award-winning artisan bakery and it becomes the ideal place to spend a few days away from it all.
The village of Orford overlooks Orford Ness, a wild and beautiful 10 mile long spit of gravel separated by the River Alde but connected to the mainland at Aldeburgh. It ranks among the most important shingle characteristics in the world. Cruise the harbor and discover rare flora and fauna in fragile habitats. You’ll also learn how remote Ness used to be a prime site for weapons testing, including atomic bombs. It’s hard to believe today, although you can make out the haunting outlines of the purpose-built buildings.
To enjoy all this and more, we stayed at The Pavilion on the banks of the River Alde, just a minute’s walk from the quay. It is the perfect base for exploring the coast as Aldeburgh, Woodbridge and RSPB Minsmere are all within easy reach. With its own private drive and 5 acres of land, The Pavilion is a secluded five bedroom retreat perfect for quality time with family and friends any time of the year.
It is an upside down property – the master bedroom is on the top level, with panoramic river views and its own private balcony. All other rooms are on the ground floor. Chic coastal interiors are inspired by the surrounding land and seascapes, and the open plan living area invites the outside in with a balcony that wraps the entire first floor. It is light and airy with large folding doors leading to another outdoor entertaining area. Without a doubt it has the best location in the whole village.
The pavilion was certainly ideal for a large group like ours. The eat-in kitchen is large but minimalist with a table for 10 and a kitchen bar. It is very well stocked with glasses, plates and cutlery for every occasion. There’s even a wine fridge to keep those bottles perfectly chilled. It is such a lovely home that you’ll be forgiven if you want to stay put, enjoy long evenings with a bottle of wine and a few board games, and go for walks in the area during the day.
to eat and drink
The best thing about a self catering holiday is the opportunity to discover local food and drink. I am pleased to say that you are spoiled for choice in Orford. For breakfast we went to the award winning Pump Street Bakery which was a hit with everyone, especially our son Leo who is a big fan of pain au chocolats (which he is allowed to do on special occasions).
This artisan bakery draws critics and foodies from across the UK. Here you will find all kinds of delicious breads and pastries, including Britain’s Best Baguette. They also make their own chocolate which makes fabulous souvenir gifts.
There are several local pubs for dinner. We dined at The Jolly Sailor one night – you can’t get more Suffolk than a plate of classic pub grub and a pint of Adnams. If you love seafood, Orford offers some of the freshest you can find. Pinneys has a long history in Orford and their fishing boats bring in the day’s catch daily. Their Butley Orford Oysterage restaurant in Market Square is relaxed and informal, and if you want to take away, stop by the Smokehouse for fish, lobster and crab, as well as pies, cured meats, cheeses and more.
things to do
Some of Orford’s attractions are seasonal, such as seal watching and visits to Orford Ness. (See nationaltrust.org.uk/orford-ness-national-nature-reserve for details). We hiked a lot during our stay and really enjoyed visiting the castle. Orford Castle has one of the most complete and unusual keeps in England. Its polygonal tower is unique and thanks to its excellent preservation, visitors can explore chapels, rooms and halls from basement to roof. From the top you have a fantastic view of the countryside and the sea.
St Bartholomew’s Church in Orford is also worth a visit. Mentioned in Simon Jenkins England’s thousand best churchesit dates back to 1170. It is beautiful inside and was a favorite spot of the composer Benjamin Britten, who performed some of his works here including the premiere of his opera, Noyes fludde. The church still hosts concerts, including the Aldeburgh Festival, so it’s worth checking out what’s on.
The wharf is a great spot for crab fishing in the summer. But for something extra special, you can explore the river aboard the Lady Florence River Cruise Restaurant. The historic boat takes up to 12 cruises that include breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dinner. How wonderful.
The pavilion has its own tennis courts and a heated outdoor pool, which can be used from May to September. The house is cozy in the winter – snuggle up under blankets and watch the stars through the property’s high-tech telescope. The Suffolk coast is known for its dark skies.
After being away from group activities and family for so long, the pavilion is a perfect place to reconnect and recharge.
The pavilion is available through Suffolk Secrets suffolk-secrets.co.uk