In 1085 the Domesday Book recorded forty-nine men; with their families, this would have made a village of about a hundred inhabitants. The book also mentions a church, standing in eight acres, and valued at sixteen pence (a larger sum than it now sounds). The present church, however, originally thatched, was built in the 13th century, with the 15th-century additions of a porch and tower.
Snape priory was founded in 1155, downriver from the village, by William Martell, a local landowner, who was about to set off as part of the Third Crusade. It survived until 1525, when it was closed and stripped of its wealth by Cardinal Wolsey. One of its barns, built by the monks, is all that still stands, and has been dated to 1295.
The monks also built a water mill, and probably also constructed the first bridge across the Alde. This was wooden at first, though in 1802 a brick bridge was built, and then itself replaced in 1960.
Sugar beet was also an important product; it was first grown commercially in and exported to the [Netherlands from Snape. The Maltings, producing and exporting high-quality malted barley, was a fourth important industry, which bequeathed buildings to the fifth significant industry: tourism.
Snape had already tasted success as a tourist destination, for in the 18th and 19th centuries the Snape Race Course on the banks of the Alde was the site of a race meeting held every year for nearly 150 years. This led to the building of a new road (now the A1094) by the Aldeburgh Turnpike Company, which made Snape easy to get to, and which continued to be the main route to the village even after the coming of the railways (which reached Snape in 1888, though only for goods traffic to the Maltings).
As a result of fertiliser, sugar beet, and malted barley, Snape had became a very busy inland port by the end of the 19th century. The Maltings, with its fine brick buildings and riverside position, was ideally suited for redevelopment as a tourist centre when it closed as a going concern in 1960, and now constitutes the main industry in the village. In particular, the famous Aldeburgh Festival is now held in the Maltings, emphasising the area's links with Benjamin Britten.