It is almost an island, and despite being surrounded by inlets and marshes, the River Blyth, and the North Sea, it has managed to keep the elegant atmosphere of the 1800s.
The structures, which range from colourful cottages to stately palaces from the Georgian era, are what make the town so memorable. Because the fire of 1659 completely levelled Southwald, virtually everything found there dated from after that year. However, the green handkerchiefs that can be seen in the midst of the town are an amazing find. These handkerchiefs were made specifically to stop another fire from destroying everything, and they have survived to this day. Some of them are arranged around a group of greens that have been left undeveloped since the big fire of 1659 so that they might be used as fires. This was done after a large portion of the town was destroyed by the fire.
Visit Buckenham House, which not only dates back to the 1500s and is one of the few surviving buildings from that era but also contains an intriguing art gallery. Richard Buckenham, a prosperous merchant from the time period who built the mansion, was responsible for its construction. The building was enormous for its time period, and many aspects of its design can still be seen today. A true treasure for anyone who are interested in things Tudor.
Southwold received its royal charter from Henry VII in 1489, once prospering, like many of its neighbours, from herring fishing. Like many seaside towns of the 1800s, Southwald also has a pier, damaged in a storm and then restored to its original length and reopened in 2001.
Also not to be missed is the lighthouse which is more than 100 years old, 30 meters high, its light can be seen 25km away from the sea. Below the lighthouse is a small Victorian pub, the Sole Bay Inn, whose name recalls a battle fought at Southwold in 1672, an episode of the Third Anglo-Dutch War, when the Duke of York, Lord High Admiral of England and later crowned James II, he used Sutherland House in Southwold as his headquarters and launched his fleet (along with the French) from here.
In this battle died Edward Montagu, Earl of Sandwich, who was the great-grandson of that fellow, always Earl of Sandwich who loved playing cards so much that he didn’t have time to eat and invented the sandwich.
If you are in Southwold also visit the church of St Edmund King & Martyrwhich survived the English Civil War well and is now still filled with art and relics from the Tudor era and earlier.
There are two historic museums are in Southwold, one is the Southwold Museum which contains from the natural history of the area to maritime history, the second is the Southwold Sailors Reading Room which has a little bit of everything about the town’s maritime history.
Another museum is the The Amber Museum, which traces the history of amber through millions of years. If you don’t want to spend so much time indoors, there are some good country walks around Southwold, both along the coast and inland. But part of the pleasure of visiting Southwold is wandering around the village and looking at the many independent and often quirky shops to be found there.
How to get to Southwold?
To get there you can take the train to Norwich from London and then bus to Lowestoft w from here bus number 99 to Southwold. Or you can take buses from London (Stratford) to Lowestoft and then take the 99 bus. You can do this as a day trip if you plan well or as a weekend getaway.
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