Aldborough, or Aldeburgh (St. Peter and St. Paul)

ALDBOROUGH, or Aldeburgh (St. Peter and St. Paul), a sea-port and parish, and formerly a representative borough and a market-town, in the union, and locally in the hundred, of Plomesgate, S. division of Suffolk, 25 miles (N. E. by E.) from Ipswich, and 94 (N. E.) from London; containing 1557 inhabitants. This place takes its name from its situation on the river Alde; it was formerly of very considerable extent and importance, possessing many valuable privileges. Owing to the inroads of the sea (which, within the last century, has destroyed the marketplace, with an entire street and a great number of houses), it has been reduced to an inconsiderable town; but from the salubrity of the air and the convenience of the shore for sea-bathing, it has lately become a place of fashionable resort during the summer; baths for the accommodation of visiters have been erected, and machines are kept on the beach. The town is situated in a pleasant vale, rather below the level of high-water mark, having the river Alde on the north, and on the south the navigable river Ore, which flows from Orford to this place: it is sheltered by a steep hill, the extended summit of which forms a magnificent terrace, affording a delightful promenade, and a beautifully diversified prospect embracing the North Sea. The strand, the descent to which from the town is gradual, consists of firm sand, favourable for bathing and walking. At the southern extremity of the main street, which is nearly a mile in length, are a battery, on which, during the late war, two eighteenpounders were mounted, another of five guns, and a martello tower, for the protection of the coast. The old houses are in general ill-constructed, but those erected by families residing here during the season, or for the accommodation of visiters, are well built and respectable; among them is an elegant marine villa, in the Italian style, built by the late Leveson Vernon, Esq. There is a public subscription library, situated on the Head; a neat and commodious theatre is open for a few weeks during the season; and assemblies are held occasionally at the principal inns.

The trade consists chiefly in the exportation of corn, and the importation of coal and timber; in which fortysix vessels, averaging fifty-two tons' burthen, are employed. The custom-house is a neat and convenient building near the quay; the harbour is safe and commodious, and attracts a number of seafaring people and fishermen, by whom the town is principally inhabited. Many of these are Trinity-house pilots, who form themselves into small associations, and purchase swift-sailing cutters, in which they traverse the North Sea, frequently approaching the coast of Norway, in search of vessels requiring assistance. The chief employment of the other inhabitants consists in the taking and drying of herrings and sprats, the latter of which are found here in profusion, and exported to Holland; soles and lobsters of superior flavour are taken also in abundance. The market, on Wednesday and Saturday, has been discontinued; the fairs are held on March 1st and May 3rd.

Aldborough claims to be a borough by prescription: the earliest charter extant was granted by Henry VIII. in 1529, after which it received several others, the last and governing charter being granted by Charles I. in 1637. The officers of the corporation are two bailiffs, ten capital and twenty-four inferior burgesses, a recorder, town-clerk, two chamberlains, two serjeants-at-mace, and others; and the bailiffs, late bailiffs, and recorder, are exclusively justices of the peace for the borough, which is co-extensive with the parish. The revenue arises principally from the proceeds of the town marshes, comprising 188 acres of land used for depasturing cattle, which were purchased in 1610, and are vested in trustees. The town-hall is an ancient building of timber, under which is the common gaol, consisting of a single cell, for the confinement of disorderly persons; the magistrates generally commit to the county gaol. The borough first exercised the elective franchise in the 13th of Elizabeth, from which time, until its disfranchisement by the Reform act, in the 2nd of William IV., it returned two members to parliament. The parish comprises by measurement 1150 acres: it contains a small portion of good arable land, but chiefly consists of heath, and of land laid out in sheep-walks. The living is a discharged vicarage, valued in the king's books at £33. 6. 8., with a net income of £220; it is in the patronage of F. J. V. Wentworth, Esq., and there is a manor of 13 acres attached to it. The church is an ancient structure of flint and freestone, standing on the summit of a hill at the northern extremity of the town, with a square embattled tower surmounted by a turret, affording an excellent landmark for mariners. There are places of worship for Particular Baptists, Independents, and Wesleyans. This was the birth-place of the poet Crabbe.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.