By 1957 Britten’s success, and that of the Aldeburgh Festival, had made him so famous that he felt he needed more privacy than was possible at Crag House. For a few years he and Pears had been friends with the artist and Aldeburgh Music Club member Mary Potter, and often played tennis in the large garden of her home, The Red House. When the opportunity arose to exchange homes with Mary Potter, who wanted to downsize, Britten traded the busy seafront for the seclusion of Golf Lane, a private road on the outskirts of Aldeburgh.
You are welcome to take photos and video for personal, non-commercial use. Please do not take photos or film people without permission, do not use flash or tripods and observe signage indicating where photography and filming is not permitted.
The Red House
The House Britten and Pears shared for nearly two decades has been carefully re-presented as it was, based on a room inventory and recollections from people who knew the house at that time. The result is a charmingly informal snapshot, as though Britten and Pears had just stepped out for a moment.
The house is open from 1pm to explore the ground floor. A 20 minute guided visit of private rooms in the upstairs is available at 1.30pm, 2.30pm and 3.30pm. Available on a first come, first serve basis on the day.
Visit the room where Britten wrote masterpieces such as Noye’s Fludde, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and War Requiem . His desk, piano and other original items have been put back into the elegant first-floor room created for him out of a former hayloft next to the main house. As he wrote to a friend in 1959, ‘I’ve made myself a nice remote studio where I can bang away to my heart’s content.’
Even before moving to The Red House in November 1957, Britten asked the architect HT (‘Jim’) Cadbury-Brown to survey the property and consider options for a purpose-built studio in the grounds. Cadbury-Brown instead suggested converting this building next to the main house. The studio was completed the following summer. It is clear that Cadbury-Brown took great care over details such as the acoustics and lighting, creating a space that suited his client perfectly.
The Library was built on the site of a disused barn to the west of The Red House in 1963. The architect Peter Collymore transformed the space into a room that would hold Britten and Pears’ large book and music collection and also function as a rehearsal space.
Today the Library is used for recitals. Visit what’s on to search events.
The gallery was built in the 1990s over Britten’s open-air swimming pool, which is still beneath the floor. It now holds both permanent and temporary exhibitions, which draw on the amazing collections at The Red House to introduce Britten and his music.
Suitable for all ages, there is an audio guide to accompany the exhibition, a Noye’s Fludde dress up area, Peter Grimes hut exploring Britten’s most celebrated opera, and a section on one of Britten’s greatest works, War Requiem.
This year’s temporary exhibition is Tippett & Britten: portrait of a wartime friendship. Find out more here.
In June 2013, to mark Britten’s centenary, a new home for the composer’s uniquely comprehensive collection opened in the grounds of The Red House.
Visitors are welcome to drop in Tuesday to Friday during opening hours. At certain times visitors can experience:
Box of Delights: 2.30pm, 3.30pm (excluding Thursdays) and 4.15pm.
Stories from the Archive: Thursdays at 3.30pm from 7 March.
Special exhibitions and displays also take place here. See what’s on for information.
For research enquiries, visit the explore section of the website.
Britten and Pears entertained guests, cultivated vegetables, and even played croquet and tennis in their much-cherished gardens. There were many important social occasions which took place here, such as the celebration of Britten’s life peerage in 1976. In the summer months we welcome visitors to bring a picnic or enjoy a spot of croquet on the croquet lawn where Britten and Pears played.
Today the gardens are a wonderful place to relax and enjoy the tranquil setting at The Red House. Follow the Garden Trail to discover the sculpture as well as the flora and fauna that thrive here.