Summit of the Britten Empire

Summit of the Britten Empire


norman lebrecht

March 04, 2015

Aldeburgh Music, Benjamin Britten’s legacy, has revealed that it is about to acquire the concert hall and heritage complex the composer caused to be built at Snape Maltings. It is Roger Wright’s first big move since he joined Aldeburgh from the BBC last year. Press release below.

snape maltings

Aldeburgh Music in negotiations to purchase Snape Maltings

The owners of Snape Maltings, the Gooderham family, have announced today that they are in

the final stages of negotiation with Aldeburgh Music for the sale of the site’s freehold and

commercial portfolio. The sale, which is significantly supported by funds from Arts Council

England, is due to be completed on 18 March 2015.

The sale comprises the award-winning Snape Maltings independent retail and residential

properties, including shops, galleries, two cafés, the overall site freehold and further maltings

buildings which have yet to be restored. Aldeburgh Music’s campus currently includes Snape

Maltings Concert Hall, the Hoffmann Building – which houses the Britten Studio – the

Britten–Pears Building and the Dovecote Studio.

The combination of Aldeburgh Music’s world-class, year-round arts programme and the

Gooderhams’ highly successful retail and catering business, monthly farmers’ markets,

exhibitions and the annual Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival (now one of the UK’s largest food

festivals) has seen Snape Maltings develop into a vibrant cultural village enjoyed by both

Suffolk residents and visitors to the county.

The fortunes of Snape Maltings have been inextricably linked to the Gooderhams and

Aldeburgh Music for nearly five decades, since George Gooderham bought the site in 1965 and

rented the largest building to Benjamin Britten and the Aldeburgh Festival to be converted into

Snape Maltings Concert Hall. The most active period of collaboration has taking place from

2006: since then the Maltings masterplan has seen a further 30% of the site redeveloped,

which has included the opening of Aldeburgh Music’s Hoffmann Building, the House & Garden

shop, Café 1885 and 35 residential properties.

The timing of the sale comes at the culmination of 50 years of ownership by the Gooderhams

and follows the successful delivery of their vision to secure Snape Maltings’ position as one of

Suffolk’s leading and best-loved destinations. Aldeburgh Music’s continued ambition to fulfil

the vision of its founder, Benjamin Britten, by engaging the entire site, will ensure that the

spirit and unity of Snape Maltings is maintained.

Aldeburgh Music’s purchase has been made possible by a combination of re-investing its

endowment, the receipt of an individual donation, and a vital £2m contribution from Arts

Council England’s CDEL allocation. CDEL (Capital Department Expenditure Limit) is part of Arts

Council England’s grant in aid from DCMS and can only be used to buy capital assets, buy

stocks, repay debt or acquire long-term financial assets.

Roger Wright, Chief Executive of Aldeburgh Music, said:

“Without exceptional funding and support from Arts Council England, it would not have been

possible for Aldeburgh Music to take advantage of this remarkable opportunity to protect the

future of the Snape Maltings site. Owning the whole site opens a myriad of possibilities,

crucially the fulfilling of Britten’s vision for a creative campus with a new level of public

engagements. While creating a new source of income for Aldeburgh Music’s artistic

programme, we have every intention of building on Johnny and Alesha Gooderham’s inspired

work to preserve Snape Maltings and develop it as a destination venue. I look forward to an

open discussion about the way in which partnerships can develop the site’s potential for

audiences and the arts in general, and am particularly grateful for the support of the Arts

Council at this significant time in the history of Aldeburgh Music.”

Johnny Gooderham, Managing Director and owner of the Maltings, said:

“I have been fortunate to have been responsible for the Maltings since the age of 24, during

which time the site has seen its most extensive period of development. It is gratifying to see

how Snape Maltings has become such a special place for so many people of all ages and

interests, from the cyclists who visit our teashop to the customers in our shops and galleries

and the walkers who enjoy this unique landscape. This is a most natural unification of two

great assets and it will secure a robust and captivating future for the Maltings.

It is important that the recognition for the achievements to date is shared amongst our staff,

whose dedication and endeavour have been instrumental in making the Maltings the place it is


Aldeburgh Music is now the most natural custodian to take the Maltings forward. By

combining the existing aspects of music, visual arts, food and drink, festivals and heritage, we

have every confidence that Aldeburgh Music will deliver an enriched future for the site.”

Hedley Swain, Area Director for the South East, Arts Council England, said:

“We are pleased to be able to support Aldeburgh Music’s future resilience through the

purchase of Snape Maltings’ retail and residential buildings. It will ensure that Aldeburgh

Music is able to protect the future of the site and continue to deliver great art and culture for


Alan Britten, nephew of Benjamin Britten and President of the Friends of Aldeburgh Music, said:

“If owning Snape Maltings had been even a half a possibility, I feel sure my uncle would have

snapped it up immediately.”


  • Ks. Christopher Robson says:

    Can only be good news 🙂