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  • 4DHeritage team

An immersive exploration of Thorpeness

Updated: Sep 10, 2020

How can we learn from the past to gain inspiration for tackling the challenges of today?

History and heritage are closely linked to a sense of place. How can you bring that sense of play alive? Google have been creating a platform to do that with their VR Polytour. What might it look like in practice and how might it capture the story of one coastal settlement that re-imagined itself.

This is its story....

'Thorpeness was a small fishing hamlet on the East Coast of England. The North Sea storms made fishing from his shingle beaches a hazardous affair with no safe anchorages or estuaries for larger boats, for miles along the coast. Fishing boats had to be launched through the surf and regain the safety of the shore with their catch, hours later. It was a precarious existence.

The coastal flats also had their challenges. Surge tides and rain would lead to flooding in the surrounding area, and the brackish water prevented the effective cultivation of the land, so they were only good for grazing livestock. Storms would sometimes lead to the collapse of the cliffs on the Ness, as one of Britain’s most easterly points was steadily eroded. Then in the late 19th century, Thorpeness became transformed into a holiday village with the marshes turned into a great lake, known as the Meare.

Today the coastal erosion continues and there may come a time, when Thorpeness will go the same way as some of the legendary medieval villages like Dunwich which once had an abbey and seven churches, but has largely been taken by the sea.

How can this story be told? This tour allows you to see Thorpeness on an autumnal morning and go back to see it in its early days.

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