History of Wardens Trust

Wardens Trust is sited at a remarkable building that was initially an ornithologist’s private museum for his collection of displayed stuffed birds.

Dr. Fergus Mentieth Ogilvie, one of 5 sons, was an ophthalmic surgeon practicing in London and Oxford, was also a renowned orchid grower, Royal Horticultural Society Gold Medallist as well as ornithologist. Over his lifetime he progressively assembled a very large collection of birds of the British Isles, mainly from East Anglia. In 1902 he built his personal, private Museum to house them, incorporating underfloor heating, controlled roof ventilating louvers, and overhead glazed light with individual roller blinds to control sunlight.

The taxidermy was presented by T.E. Gunn of Norwich, often in vast glass display cases called Bioramas depicting whole cliff scenes with birds, nests, eggs, and habitat vegetation. It was looked after by a Warden living in the cottage accommodation built on to the western end, which is now Avocet Cottage. This was almost certainly the best private collection of stuffed birds in the country.

When Dr. Ogilvie died in 1918, the collection was bequeathed predominantly to Ipswich Borough Museum, where it was impressively displayed and regularly visited by those interested in fine examples of the taxidermist’s art.

Thereafter, the building was used for grain storage, farm machinery, and boat building. During World War 2, when the building was requisitioned by the Army use, it fell into disrepair with much damage to lights, roof, ceiling panels, and the floor.


Dr. Ogilvie lived at the adjacent Ness House. Originally called The Tea House from before 1868 through to 1945, the present building incorporates a farmhouse recorded on the tithe maps of 1831 as including barns with 125 acres of land down to the foreshore.  The house is constructed of brick with shingle facing, distinct from the flints used elsewhere in East Anglia. The building material was traditionally collected from the more easily accessible beaches at Sizewell and Thorpeness, where it was manually sorted into piles of grades, a practice continued into the 1920s.

In the early years of the 19th Century this was the only house between the small hamlet of Thorpe to the south, and Sizewell Gap to the North, then consisting only of the Inn, the Pebble Cottages, and Hill Farm, now flattened by the Power Station. The Coastguard Cottages were built after Napoleonic Wars, and the three residences, Cliff House, Sizewell Hall, and Dower House all evolved from seaside summer houses of the local gentry

In 1988 Mr. and Mrs. Richard Gimson set up Wardens Charitable Trust based within the museum building for use as a Centre for children and adults with mental and or physical disabilities and neurodiversity. The 4 acres of recreational grounds and amenities within the main Hall have seen increasing usage over the years with 2600 visitors in 2019.

Further renovations have occurred over subsequent years with the development of the Robert Orme Centre with showers and bunk bed sleeping facilities in 2003 and the refurbishing of the Avocet Cottage and Warm Room in 2015.