infobox UK place

static_image_caption=The lighthouse from the North Parade
country = England
latitude= 52.327
longitude= 1.680
official_name= Southwold
population = 1,458 (2001 Census)
shire_district= Waveney
region= East of England
shire_county = Suffolk
constituency_westminster= Suffolk Coastal
post_town= SOUTHWOLD
postcode_district = IP18
postcode_area= IP
dial_code= 01502
os_grid_reference= TM510763

Southwold is a seaside town in the Waveney district of Suffolk, East Anglia, England, at the mouth of the River Blyth within the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB. Although Council Tax is paid to Waveney District Council, the town is in the Suffolk Coastal parliamentary constituency.


Southwold was mentioned in the "Domesday Book" as an important fishing port, and it received a town charter from Henry VII in 1489. Over the following centuries a shingle bar built up across the harbour mouth, preventing the town becoming a major port.

Southwold was the home of a number of Puritan emigrants to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the early seventeenth century. Richard Ibrook, born in Southwold and a former bailiff of the town, emigrated to Hingham, Massachusetts, along with Rev. Peter Hobart, son of Edmund Hobart of Hingham, Norfolk. Rev. Hobart was formerly an assistant vicar of Southwold's St. Edmunds Church after his graduation from Magdalene College, Cambridge. (Hobart married as his second wife in America Rebecca Ibrook, daughter of his fellow Puritan Richard Ibrook.) The immigrants to Hingham were led by Robert Peck, vicar of St. Andrews' Church in Hingham and a native of Beccles, Suffolk.

In 1659 a fire devastated most of the town and damaged St Edmunds Church, whose original structure dated from the 12th century. The fire created a number of open spaces within the town which were never rebuilt. Today these greens, and the restriction of expansion because of the surrounding marshes, have preserved its genteel appearance.

On the green just above the beach, descriptively named Gun Hill, the six eighteen-pounder cannon commemorate the Battle of Sole Bay, fought in 1672 between English and French fleets on one side and the Dutch (under Michiel de Ruyter) on the other. The battle was bloody but indecisive and many bodies were washed ashore. Southwold Museum has a collection of mementos of the event.

It has always been held that the cannons were captured from the Scots at Culloden and given to the town by the Duke of Cumberland but they are much larger than those used in that campaign.


The narrow-gauge Southwold Railway connected to Halesworth and ran from the 24 September 1879 to April 11 1929 (Mitchell and Smith, 1984). In 2007 the Southwold Railway Society submitted [ plans] to build a new line running between the parish of Easton Bavents and Henham Park, with the intention of creating a link from the town to the nearest mainline service at Halesworth. However, these plans were criticised for having no relation to the original route of the railway and, amongst other reasons, environmental concerns. In July 2007 the plans were rejected by both Waveney and Suffolk Coastal District Councils. [cite news | date=2007-07-05 | url=| title=Southwold railway - last hopes dashed| publisher=EADT online| accessdate=2006-07-20] .


Southwold lighthouse was constructed in 1887 by Trinity House. It stands as a landmark in the centre of the town. It replaced three local lighthouses which were under serious threat from coastal erosion. It began operation in 1890 and was electrified and de-manned in 1938. The lighthouse is unusual in that the light itself is switched on and off in sequence (four flashes every 20 seconds), rather than the more usual lenses to create a rotating beam. Trinity House organises visits during the summer [ [ Trinity House website] ] .

Other town features

In 1890 the Adnams Sole Bay brewery was re-built on the same site it has occupied since 1660. Notable pubs in the town include the Sole Bay Inn, Lord Nelson, Harbour Inn, Kings Head, Red Lion, The Swan, The Crown, and the Blyth (formerly Pier Avenue) Hotel.

Southwold Pier was built in 1900, was practically destroyed by a gale in 1934, and had a major refurbishment in 2001. Whilst many English seaside piers are in decline, Southwold Pier is enjoying renewed popularity. It includes a collection of modern coin-operated novelty machines made by Tim Hunkin.

The Old Water Tower, which stands proudly in the middle of Southwold Common, was built in 1890. The tank held 40,000 gallons of water and was powered by huge sails. In 1899 The Old Water Tower experienced a tragedy. George Neller, a respected local man, died on St. Valentines Day when his coat got caught in its machinery. In 1937 a new water tower was built next door that was capable of holding 150,000 gallons. The then Southwold Borough Council bought the Old Water Tower before it went into the hands of successive water companies. It was returned to the Town Council for a nominal fee of £100 in 1987. The Old Water Tower has since been used as the Lifeboat Museum and was later used by Adnams for a number of years.

During World War II, the cannons on Gun Hill meant that Southwold gained the status of "fortified town". Despite their being filled with concrete and unable to fire, Southwold became the target of many bombing raids by Germany.

There is a model boat pond just to the North of the pier, where the Southwold Model Yacht Regattas are held during spring and summer months. The Electric Picture Palace cinema was opened in 2002, a pastiche of the original 1912 cinema that stood nearby. The town also contains an Amber Museum.

outhwold Harbour

Southwold Harbour lies south of the town on the River Blyth. It extends from the river mouth to nearly a mile upstream and serves mainly fishing and small pleasure boats. Some huts sell freshly caught and other fish, and at the upstream end of the harbour, at Blackshore, is the public house "The Harbour Inn".

Situated at the seaward end of the harbour are the RNLI Lifeboat Shed, and the Alfred Corry Museum. Housed in the former Cromer lifeboat shed, the latter is home to the former Southwold lifeboat "Alfred Corry", which was in service from 1893 to 1918. The boat is currently being restored to her original state.

The river can be crossed on foot or on a bicycle by a public footbridge (partly the old railway bridge) close to "The Harbour Inn" giving access to the nearby village of Walberswick. This bridge, known as the Bailey Bridge, is based upon the footings of the original railway bridge. It replaced that bridge, which contained a swinging section to allow the passage of wherries and other shipping, and which was largely demolished at the start of the Second World War as a precaution when German invasion was expected.

Next door to "The Harbour Inn" is the [ Southwold Sailing Club] . The club's season runs from April to October, with racing for dinghies and cruisers. Its members enjoy some of the best views of the river and harbour from the balcony, and the clubhouse and bar are open every evening from May to September.

Towards the mouth of the River Blyth, a rowing boat ferry service runs between the Walberswick and Southwold banks. It is open at weekends in the spring and autumn, and daily during summertime. The ferry has been operated by the same family since the 1920s, when it was a chain ferry that could take cars. The chain ferry ceased working in 1941, but some small vestiges remain at the Walberswick slipway.


The beach is a combination of sand and shingle. In 2005/6 it was further protected by a coastal management scheme which includes beach nourishment, new groynes on the south side of the pier and rip rap to the north.

It is overlooked by brightly painted beach huts. Some of the huts have humorous or punning names.


On the first Friday of December, the annual switching-on of the Christmas lights traditionally takes place. [] A few hundred people come to the town to see Father Christmas switch the lights on from the Town Hall balcony. Rising costs and fewer financial contributions have meant that the Christmas lights are not as extensive as in previous years.

Other notable features

outhwold in popular culture

The fictional Southwold Estate, seat of the equally fictional Earls of Southwold is the country estate of the family of Lady Marjorie Bellamy in the ITV British drama "Upstairs, Downstairs". The town and its vicinity has been used as the setting for numerous films and television programmes, including "Iris" about the life of Iris Murdoch starring Dame Judi Dench, "Kavanagh QC" starring John Thaw, "East of Ipswich" by Michael Palin and Little Britain with Matt Lucas and David Walliams also a 1969 version of David Copperfield. [ [ Old City - David Copperfield] ]

Julie Myerson set her 2003 novel "Something Might Happen", about a brutal murder of a young woman, in Southwold, or as she describes it, "a sleepy, slightly self-satisfied seaside town". The town isn't actually named in the novel, but Myerson says that having a murder in the car park did make her feel she "was soiling something really good". She holidayed in the town as a child and said in an interview that while everything else in her life had changed, only her mother and Southwold had remained the same. She lives in London but owns a second home in the town. [ [ Random House] ]

George Orwell

The writer George Orwell (then known as Eric Blair) spent time as a child and teenager in Southwold at his parents' home. A plaque can be seen next door to what is now the fish and chip shop at the far end of the High Street.

From January to June 1922 he attended a cramming establishment in Southwold to prepare for his India Office exams. He returned in 1929 ill and broke after the experiences later described in "Down and Out in Paris and London", and wrote "Burmese Days". In 1934 he spent ten months in the town after ill-health forced him to give up his teaching job, writing "A Clergyman's Daughter" which is partly set in a fictionalised Southwold. His final visit to Southwold was in 1939.

econd Home Owners

In recent years, an increasing number of houses have been bought by people as second homes. It has led to Southwold being categorised as the least affordable town in Suffolk.Fact|date=October 2007 Celebrities who own second homes include Julie Myerson, Esther Freud, Bill Nighy and P. D. James.Fact|date=October 2007

Cultural Events

In 2005, Southwold launched Suffolk's "answer to the Turner prize". [ [ Telegraph news 01/08/2005] ]


External sources

*Mitchell, V. and Smith, K., (1984), "Branch Line to Southwold", Middleton Press, ISBN 0-90652-015-0.
*Munn, Geoffrey, 'Southwold: An Earthly Paradise', Antique Collectors Club, (Woodbridge, 2006) ISBN 1-85149-518-5 90000

See also

* Southold, New York - named after Southwold, UK
* Southold (CDP), New York - village on Long Island, NY
* Southwold, Ontario - Canadian link
* Rev. John Youngs - founder of Southold, NY
* Latitude festival

External links

* [ A Short History of the Southwold Railway]
* [ George Orwell in Southwold]
* [ Photos of Southwold]
* [ Brief details of Southwold history]
* [ Very detailed history of places in Southwold]
* [ Southwold Museum]
* [ Opening times for the four Southwold museums]
* [ Online edition of free monthly newspaper "Southwold Organ"]
* [ Ferry times and fares]
* [ The Electric Picture Palace Cinema]
* [ Southwold harbour, ferry, amber museum, sand art, and pier.]
* [ Southwold Harbour]
* [ The Southwold Longshore Fishery]
* [ The "Alfred Corry" Museum]
* [ Southwold Guided Tour]
* [ Southwold Online]
* [ Southwold Sailing Club]
* [ Photograph of where George Orwell lived]
* [ History of Southold, NY, USA]
* [ Sea and river trips] - Coastal Voyager
* [ Four webcams from the top of The Old Water Tower on Southwold Common]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Southwold — (spr. Saushwohld), Marktflecken der englischen Grafschaft Suffolk, an der Mündung des Blythe in die Nordsee, Hafen, Seebad, Salzschlämmerei, Bierbrauereien, Häringsfang (Getreide u. Häringshandel); 2100 Ew. S. wurde 1659 fast gänzlich vom Feuer… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Southwold — (spr. ßauth ), Stadt (municipal borough) in der engl. Grafschaft Ostsuffolk, mit Seebad, Heringsfischerei und (1901) 2800 Einw. Auf der Reede bei S. (Solebai) 7. Juni 1672 unentschiedene Seeschlacht zwischen der englischen Flotte unter dem Herzog …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Southwold — 52.3263888888891.6788888888889 Koordinaten: 52° 20′ N, 1° 41′ O …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Southwold lighthouse — Infobox Lighthouse caption = location = Southwold, Suffolk, England coordinates = coord|52|19|38|N|01|40|53|E|type:landmark yearlit = 1889 automated = 1938 yeardeactivated = foundation = construction = Masonry elevation = 10 m shape = round… …   Wikipedia

  • Southwold Earthworks — The Southwold Earthworks is the site of a 16th century Neutral Nation village. The site is located at coord|42|40|59|N|81|20|59|W near St. Thomas, Ontario. The site today consists of a ring of earthworks surrounding the remains of a double… …   Wikipedia

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