Photo from Southwold

Where pubs have been renamed, we usually list only the most recent known name here. Other names can be found in the Pub list tab. (For closed pubs which only traded for a short time under a newer name, we generally list them under the longer-established name) Ancient pubs are defined as those which are believed to have closed before the middle of the 19th century.


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Population (2011) of Southwold: 1098.

Local licensing authority for Southwold is East Suffolk.

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About Southwold

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.

During Whitsun 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.

In 1750 the Free British Fishery was started at Buss creek ("Buss" being a herring vessel), just to the north of the town, in an attempt to regain control of local herring fishing from the Dutch. The scheme was not successful and with a shingle bar building at the mouth of the harbour, to the south of the town, the industry had declined significantly by early 20th cent.

The demolished Southwold Station (on Blyth Road opposite the Blyth Hotel) was the terminus on the Southwold Light Railway, which ran from Halesworth to Southwold. The line opened in 1879 and closed in 1929.

There are still many fine Georgian buildings in the town and a distinctive Victorian lighthouse.

Eric Blair (who wrote under the pen name George Orwell) lived at Montague House (formerly his parents' house) for several years in the early 20th cent. The Victorian pier was almost destroyed by a gale in 1934 but was extensively rebuilt in 2001. The Sailors Reading Room can be found close to the cliff and contains many interesting artefacts (open daily) and Southwold Museum can be found in Victoria St.

Today the town is probably most famous as the home of Adnams brewery. The company has been registered since 1890, and owns about 75 local pubs and 4 hotels, but brewing behind the charming Swan hotel dates back to about 1660 (probably much earlier). The brewery has expanded considerably in recent years and many former houses in Church street are now just false frontages. The award winning beers are available in most local pubs. Unfortunately the use of horse-drawn drays was discontinued in 2006 when the new distribution centre opened at Reydon.