Britten's Suffolk Heritage Coast

Benjamin Britten was born on this coast, lived most of his life along it, and was inspired by it when writing his music. This book is a ‘local boy’s take’ on the coast that both he and I loved, and on those special moments I shared with him as his photographer and friend.

Ever since I was given a Kodak Brownie camera and a roll of film as an eight year old, I’ve been drawn irresistibly to photographing the Suffolk coastal countryside and its people. Ask any landscape artist or photographer what makes Suffolk so special, and they will inevitably say it’s the clear light and the large skies that lift the ordinary into the extraordinary.

The area is rich in history, with indications of human habitation along its shores dating back some 700,000 years. There is ample evidence that the Romans and Vikings flourished when they settled on these shores. Many words have been written about the riches garnered from the wool trade here in medieval days, and we benefit today from that time of great prosperity with magnificent Suffolk churches built in celebration of that wealth, leaving us with a spectacular inheritance still to be enjoyed in our villages and towns.

After the decline of the wool trade, Suffolk’s affluence waned. Small farmers eked out a miserable living from a few cows, pigs and chickens, with barely enough land to keep them going throughout the seasons. Farmers have always been tough, resigned, independent people, with an eye to making a bob or two. That pedigree has been passed down the line enabling them to sustain a livelihood during the hardest of times. These days, most of those farmers remaining are now wealthy landowners managing high tech, multimillion-pound assets.

The Suffolk coastline has been steadily disappearing into the North Sea for several hundred years. It’s a harsh environment typified by the tough longshore fishermen who put to sea in their boats from the beach. The people along its shores frequently have to contend with floods that threaten to take over their homes and land. This is all part of what makes the Suffolk coastal people special, they have an inbuilt stoicism. This book truly celebrates everything best about the county, and I’m pleased to say it has been printed and published by a Suffolk firm of printers.

Clive Strutt 2013

ISBN 978-1-907938-52-8

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