Originally a fishing hamlet of Reydon, recorded in Domesday as "Sudholda" and appearing on John Speed's 1610 map as "Sowowlde", this settlement has been a town in its own right since being granted a charter by Henry VII in 1489. Some older parts were destroyed in the "great fire" of 1659 and resulted in several small greens being created. The magnificent St Edmunds church (c1450) fortunately survived and contains the decoration known locally as "Southwold Jack", which today is used as a trademark by Adnams.
On May 28th 1672 the Dutch fleet engaged the English in the bloody Battle of Sole Bay, just off the town. The English commander, the Earl of Sandwich, was killed together with many other seamen, whilst the battle itself was inconclusive. Today several cannons from the battle can be found on "gun hill".
Today, the term "Sole Bay" seems incongruous, as the coast at Southwold shows no sign of a bay, but centuries ago there was a large bay, with Easton Ness to the north and Dunwich Ness to the south. Both Promontories have long since been lost to the sea.
Local legend says that an old smugglers' tunnel ran from the Lord Nelson to Centre Cliff.…
The 1823 Pigot's Directory lists Wm. Crisp as a brewer & merchant.
The 1839 Pigot's Directory lists William Crisp as a brewer (East Green), and John Lloyd as a brewer (Church st) and Jonathan Robson as a brewer (East la).
The 1844 White's Directory lists John Lloyd as a brewer (Church st) and four beer houses are also listed being run by:
Jonathan Robson (East Street).
The 1855 White's Directory lists Samuel Gayfer as a brewer, malster, corn miller & coal merchant and 6 beer houses are also listed being run by:
George Battram (Green La)