The Red House

The beautiful and much loved home of celebrated composer Benjamin Britten and his partner, the tenor, Peter Pears, offers visitors a unique chance to learn more about their lives and work. As well as walking in their footsteps, visitors can explore the Britten-Pears archive, described by Ella Roberts, Communications Manager, as 'a large box of stories' waiting to be uncovered.

First taking part in 2017 HODs has become part of their annual calendar and this year they partnered up with Suffolk Archives to launch a community project exploring more of those stories.

© Philip Vile / Britten-Pears Foundation -

Ella Roberts - Communications Manager / Britten-Pears Foundation, The Red House, Aldeburgh, Suffolk

Benjamin Britten at The Red House / © Britten-Pears Foundation

Why we take part

We are newcomers, having first taken part in 2017, HODs is now very much part of our calendar, and my personal highlight of the year.

It’s a great opportunity to share our beautiful site with a wider audience. Visitors may think that a composer museum/historic house is not for them but they soon find out that there is something for everyone. Visitors love the homeliness and warmth of Britten and his partner Peter Pears’ home and the huge scale of their art collection. They also enjoy exploring the five acres of gardens which include a kitchen garden where you can pick as many strawberries and raspberries as you want! 

What we do for HODs

We open as normal but drop our entry fee and we also add an extra talk or exhibition. This year we marked our local cinema’s centenary with a talk about Benjamin Britten’s relationship with film and Aldeburgh Cinema and an archival display of Britten’s financial receipts and in particular the purchases he made on the High Street.

The difference it's made

Visitors took a trip down memory lane through a special display of archive records of Britten’s High Street / © Britten-Pears Foundation

It has definitely helped us reach our local audience. This year we held a launch event of our ‘Sharing Suffolk Stories’ project which is in partnership with Suffolk Archives and we invited residents to find out more and possibly take part. They had never visited us before and were bowled over by our display showing Britten’s receipts of purchases from shops they had either worked in or that family and friends had owned. We always say that our archive is a large box of stories and it was wonderful to see so many people respond to and even add their own stories to these objects.

Nice surprise

With little marketing resources and advertising we are able to reach many more people through the HODs website. Visitors are so complimentary and some buy an annual admission ticket so they can come back again and again!

Feedback from visitors to The Red House over Heritage Open Days 2019

Top tip!

Do it! It’s worth knowing that there is no pressure to do more than your resources allows and the HODs team will support and guide you through it all.

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