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sive forest near Dunwich, and Gardner in his memorials of that
ancient city tells us that he had seen some manuscripts which affirmed
that the Conqueror " gave leave to the Rouses of Badingham to hunt and
hawk in his forest at Dun wich. The very ancient family of Le Rus, de
Rus or De Rous, were established in Suffolk at an early period. J. Bird,
the Suffolk poet, thus describes the place : —

Time was Avlieu Duuwich forest spread afar,

Where ]S"eptune now rides proudly in his car,

Wliere lofty oaks long reared their heads on high,

Howled at the storms that swept in grandeur by,

Tuned their glad pagans to the gentler sway

Of winds that whispered from the sunny bay,

While the dells echoed to the bugle's sound,

And the loud cheering of the eager hound ;

While sliouts arose from wooded hill and plain

From brave de Rous and from his gaUant train.

Voices of gentle knights and damsels fair,

Who watched their liaAvks swift darting through the air

To swoop the toAvcring heron in her fliglit,

Tliat soared so high the disappointed sight,

Eested in clouds, through which the quarry Acav,

While the bold falcoii hasted to pursue,

And rushing on as lightning sure and fleet,

Struck down the heron at his lady's feet.

When the Domesday survey was taken, Dunwich contained eleven
bordarie, twenty-four freemen, each holding forty acres of land, 136
burgesses, 178 poor, and three churches. In the reign of Henry II. ''it
became the demesne of the Crown, and was a town of good note, abound-
ing with much inches and sundry kinds of merchandizes." The annual
fee farm rent then paid by it was £120 13s. 4d. and 24,000 herrings.
This was probably the period of its greatest prosperity before the old
town was swallowed up by the sea.

Under Richard I., Dunwich was fined 1,000 marks, IpsAvich 200, and
Yarmouth 200, for unlawfully supplying the King^s enemies with corn.
These sums may convey some idea of the relative importance of the towns
at the time. King John, in the first year of his reign, granted a charter
to Dunwich, by which its inhabitants were empowered, among other things,
to marry their sous and daughters as they pleased, and also to give, sell,
or dispose of their property in the town as they thought fit. This charter,
dated at Gold Cliff, 29th of June, cost them 300 marks, besides ten
falcons and five ger-falcons.


Dunwich was then a large city, with many roads_, streets, pnblic
buildings, and several churches and chapels, dedicated to St. Leonard, St.
Martin, St. Nicholas, St. Francis, St. Catherine, and St. John the Baptist.
The Town Hall was a large building, and the port was crowded with
shipping. The town stood on a hill, composed of loam and sand of a loose
texture, on a coast without rocks, so that it is not surprising that the
houses should be undermined by the sea. A wood, called the King's
Forest, extended several miles south-east of the town, but it has been
for many ages covered by the waves.

In 1347, the port of Dunwich sent six ships, with 102 mariners, to
assist in the siege of Calais; but during the war with France, most
of the ships were lost, together with the lives of 500 men, and goods
to the value of £1000. This heavy loss was nothing to the destruc-
tion of the town, caused by storms at sea occurring so frequently
that the place seemed destined to fall. At different times, after 1286,
nearly all its churches and public buildings were swept away by the

In the reign of Edward I., after the town of Dunwich had declined
considerably, it had eleven ships of war, sixteen fair ships, twenty barques
or vessels trading to the North Sea, Iceland, &c., and twenty-four small
boats for the home fishery. In the twenty-fourth year of the same reign,
the men of Dunwich built at their own cost, and equipped for the defence
of the realm, eleven ships of war, most of which carried seventy
men each. Four of these vessels, with their artillery worth £200,
were taken and destroyed by the enemy, while on service off the coast of

On the night of January 1st, 1286, the town of Dunwich suffered
considerable damage from the violence of the winds and waves during a
storm at sea, by which several churches were overthrown and destroyed
in several places. In the first year of Edward III. the old port was
rendered entirely useless ; and before the twenty-third of the same reign
great part of the town, containing more than 400 houses which paid rent
to the fee farm, had fallen a prey to the waves. After this the Church of
St. Leonard was overthrown, and in the course of the same century two
other churches were destroyed. In 1540 the Church of St. John Baptist
was demolished, and before 1600 the Chapels of St. Anthony, St. Francis,
and^St. Catherine, with the Southgate and Goldengate, were swallowed up,
so that not a quarter of the town was left standing. In the reign of
Charles I. the Temple buildings yielded to the irresistible force of the
waves, and the sea reached to the Market-place in 1677, when the towns-
men sold the materials of the Cross. In 1715 the Jail was absorbed, and
in 1729 the furthest bounds of St. Peter's Churchyard were washed away.


the Church itself having been previously swallowed up. The Towu Hall
and all the public buildings soon after shared the same fate. James Bird
thus describes the desolation of the ancient city —

Wliere the lone cliff uproars its rugged head,
"Where frowns tlic ruin o'er tlio silent dead ;
"Where sweeps the billow on the lonely shore,
AVliere once tlie niiglity liA-ed, but live no more ;
"Wliere proudly fiowued the convent's mossy Avail,
"Where rose the gothic tower, the stately halls ;
"Where bards i^roclaimed and warriors shared the feast,
"Whore ruled the baron and where knelt the priest ;
"Wliere stood the city in its pride — tis gone —
]Mocked at by crumbling pile and mouldering stone.
And shapeless masses, which the reckless power
Of time hath hurled from ruined arch and tower.
O'er the lone spot, where shrines and pillared halls
Once gorgeous shone, the clammy lizard crawls ;
O'er the lone spot -where ya-\vned the guarded fosse,
Creeps the Avild bramble and the spreading moss.
Oh ! time hath laid that lordly city's broAv
In which the mighty dwelt : where dwell they now ?


A sea-port, incorporated market town, and parish, ha\nng separate juris-
diction, in the Union and Hundred of Blything, East Division of the
county of Suffolk, thirty-six miles (north-east) from Ipswich, and 104
(north-east) from London.

The ancient names of this place were Suwald, Suwalda, Sudholda, and
Southwood, probably derived from an adjacent wood, the western confines
still retaining the appellation of Wood's-end Marshes and Wood's-end
Creek. It is supposed that the Danes, about the year 1010, had a forti-
fied port here, but authentic information reaches us no further back than
to 1202, when the first chapel was built by the prior and monks of
Thetford, in right of their cell at "VVangford. The towns appear to have
enjoyed considerable prosperity for about a century and a-half previous to
the year 1659, when a dreadful confiagration took place, which in a few
hours consumed the Town Hall and nearly every public building, except
the Church, doing damage to the amount of more than £40,000. Another
remarkable event was the memorable sea-fight between the English,
under the command of the Duke of York, and the Dutch, under Admiral
do Ruyter, which took place in 8ole Bay to the east of the towu, on tho
2Gth of May, 1672, in which, though the English proved victorious, they
lost many brave and distinguished officers, among whom was the Earl of

The haven, which is formed by the mouth of the nver Blyth, was


originally at Duuwich, but the incursions of the sea on that ancient city
having in the early part of the fourteenth century rendered the haven no
longer navigable, it was cut in the year 1590 near to its present situation ;
in the year 1747 it became choked up with sand, and was cleared out by
Act of Parliament. A pier was erected on the north side in 1 749, and in
1 750 the Society of the " Free British Fishery '' were incorporated,
having established a branch of their undertaking at this port; in 1752 a
south pier was added to complete the works ; by the same Act of Parlia-
ment duties were also imposed on imports and exports.

The town is pleasantly situated on a hill overlooking the North Sea,
and is rendered peninsula by the sea and a creek, called the Buss Creek,
which runs into the river Blyth, over which is a bridge, anciently called
" Myght^s," and formerly a drawbridge leading into the town ; it consists
principally of one paved street. The houses are mostly well built and of
modern appearance, and the inhabitants are well supplied with water. The
most considerable residences, however, are on elevated sites, commanding
fine sea views, and especially on the cliffs, which are covered with all kinds
of lodging houses for the accommodation of visitors, especially those
resorting hither for sea-bathing, for which Southwold, from the nature
of its situation and the convenience of the beach, is admirably adapted.
There are hot and cold baths, and a good promenade ; also a reading-room
called the Casino, on the Gun Hill, with an assembly-room. On St.
Edmund's, commonly called Gun Hill, are six eighteen-pounders, presented
by the Duke of Cumberland, who landed here from the Netherlands
October 17th, 1745. To counteract the encroachments of the sea, a
breakwater has been made under Gun Hill cliff, extending upwards of 300
yards. The trade of the town consists in the home fishery, which is
principally for soles, and employs several small boats; in the curing
and reddening of herrings and sprats, in malting, and in the preparation
and exportation of salts, for which there is a manufactory. The chief
imports are coal, rock salt, firs and deals, culm, iron, stone, slate, glass,
earthenware, chalk, oats, &c. ; and the exports wheat, barley, malt, oak,
timber, bark, wool, refined salt, and fish.

The last Harbour Act received the royal assent 29th May, 1830, since
which the scale of duties has been somewhat reduced. The entrance
into the haven is on the south side of the town ; the superintendence of
it is vested in Commissioners, who, though they have considerably improved
the navigation within the harbour, find great diflBculty in keeping it open,
on account of the accumulation of sand about the bar. The amount of
duties paid at the custom-house in 1840 was £258; the number of vessels
which entered the port in the same year was 218, and of those which
cleared, 104. The river Blyth was made navigable to Halesworth,


nine miles distant, under an Act passed in 1757. The market
is held on Thursday, and a fair is held on Trinity Monday. The
first charter of incorporation was granted by Henry VII. in 1490,
and confirmed, with extended privileges, by Henry VIII. and subsequent
sovereigns. The Corporation now consists of a Mayor, four Aldermen,
and twelve Councillors, under the Act of 5th and 6th of William IV., cap.
70. The Mayor and late Mayor are justices of the peace, and, by a
commission granted in 1841, the number of magistrates is four. The
Guildhall was erected by the Corporation at a cost of £800, and the old
Gaol having been taken down, a new one was built in the year 1819, which
is now a National School. The parish comprises 646a. 3e. 7p. The
living is a perpetual curacy, annexed to Roydon j patron. Earl of Strad-
broke ; the benefice is endowed with the great and small tithes, which
have been commuted for a rent-charge of £68, and its value, including a
good residence, is estimated at about £136 per annum. The Church, a
very elegant structure, was built about 1460, in the later English style,
with a large and lofty tower, surmounted by a spire, and constructed of
freestone, intermixed with flint of various colours. At each angle of the
east end of the chancel is a low hexagonal embattled tower, decorated with
crosses ; the south porch is very elegant, and above the clerestoiy roof is
a light open lantern ; the ceiling was, in former times, handsomely
painted, and the interior very richly ornamented, as appears by the carved
work of the rood loft, screen, and seats of the magistrates. The gallery
was enlarged in 1836. On the south side of the churchyard are three
gravestones in memory of Thomas Gardner, the historian of Dunwich and
Southwold, and his two wives and daughter, on which are some singular
inscriptions. The Baptists, Independents, and Wesleyans have each a
place of worship ; and there are a National School for boys and girls, and
a Girls' School on the British and Foreign system. The Corporation have
under their control for the building and maintenance of bridges, sea-walls,
&c., and of the Town Hall, for the payment of the salaries of the Corpora-
tion ofllcers, and for general purposes of improvement, the following
estates, viz., the manorial rights of Southwold. granted by Henry VII.
in the fifth year of his reign ; an estate in Southwold, consisting of about
300 acres, the principal part of which was devised by William
Godell in 1509 ; a windmill, a house, and several shops in the
town, now severally let to tenants at rack-rents ; and an undivided moiety
of twenty acres of land at Roydon, taken in exchange from Sir Thomas
Gooch, Bart., in lieu of a parcel of land in Benacre, purchased by the
Corporation about the year 1642. John Sayer, in 1816, bequeathed
£200 four per cent, consols, towards the support of the Burgh School ;
but that institution having been relinquished, the dividends are now



applied^ according to the will of the donor^ to the relief of widows of
Trinity pilots and masters of vessels belonging to the port. A
dispensary and lying-in institution are supported by subscription, and
a friendly society for the relief of shipwrecked fishermen was
established in 1840. A lecture hall was erected in 1865, and is
used by the Oddfellows for their meetings. On a hill called Eye Cliff,
at a small distance from the town, are vestiges of ancient encampments,
and in many parts of circular tents, now called fairy hills, most probably
of Danish origin. Numerous coins of Roman Emperors and British
Kings have been found in the immediate vicinity, and fossil remains of
the elephant and mammoth have been discovered in the cliffs, v/hich are •
rich in agates, cornelians, and other valuable stones. Suffolk crag and
gravel ensure a dry soil for visitors who come here for a sea-side sojourn.
From St. Edmund^s Hill they may pace along Gun Hill and the Ladies^
Walk, and obtain views over land and sea, or lounge at the coastguard
station, where a Manby's apparatus is kept in good order, and was used
in 1859 with such success that forty-six lives wei-e saved.

Proceeding northwards along the beach, beside the bright green sea,
we come- to Easton Broad; and a little further on there is Covehithe
Broad, all but choked up with reeds, wherein flocks of little birds find
shelter. Here a channel crosses the beach, and a story is told of a town
swept away. Then we ascend a cliff, which stretching seawards forms
Covehithe Ness. Then we come to a common, where it is delightful
walking between the clumps of furze while a lively breeze sets in from
the sea. Next we reach Kessingland, a village amid fields, with its
church tower backed by trees.

A little further on we arrive at Pakefield, a large village on the cliff,
with a few good houses and the usual cottages and lumber of a place of
fishermen. Now there are signs that we have come to a region of shal-
lows, for the blue sea shows large brown patches where the sands lie near
the surface. Hereabouts is '^ Abraham^s bosom,^^ as sailors call a portion
of the deep water which is protected by the sandbanks from the north
and west. Here we descend to the beach, and find firm footing in the
parish of Kirkley, which now forms part of the new town of Lowestoft.


A sea-port, market town, and parish in the Incorporation and Hundr^id of
Mutford and Lothingland, Eastern Division of the County of Suffolk,
forty-four miles (north-east by north) from Ipswich, and 115 (north-east
by north) from London.

The name of this town is derived from Low-toft, a market formerly
held beneath the cliffs. The great plague which devastated the continent


of Europe in 1349 raged here with such fury, that uot more than one-
tenth of the inhabitants escaped the contagion ; and in 1647 and 1579
the same malady again prevailed. It suffered severely from fire in 1605,
and during the usurpation of Cromwell it was exposed to heavy exactions
from its attachment to the royal cause. Cromwell entered the town at
the head of 1000 cavalry in 1643, and seizing several persons, sent them
prisoners to Cambridge. Two sanguinary engagements took place off the
coast during the war with the Dutch in 1665 and 1666, and two of the
British Admirals on those occasions were natives of Lowestoft. In
consequence of the numerous wrecks, two lighthouses were erected by the
Trinity House, one of which was built on the cliff in 1676, and the other
on the beach beneath. By steering in such a direction as to make the
upper and lower lighthouses coincide, vessels are guided to a channel of
a quarter of a mile in breadth, between the Holme and Barnard sands.
A lifeboat, which is maintained by voluntary contributions, has been
stationed here for some years, and has been instrumental in preserving
the lives of numerous shipwrecked mariners. There were formerly forts
at the north and south ends of the beach and at the Ness. The town is
situated on a lofty cliff, bordering on the North Sea, and consists prin-
cipally of one street, nearly a mile in length, which is well paved, and of
several small ones which diverge from it obliquely, the whole being well
lighted with gas. The houses, for the most part of brick, are neat and
modern, and the inhabitants are well supplied with water. The air is
salubrious, especially for invalids, and the shore, gradually descending to
the sea and having a firm bottom, is commodious for bathing. There are
a theatre, a spacious assembly-room, and a subscription reading-room and
library. A bathing-house, fitted up with hot and cold water baths, was
erected by subscription in 1 824, and is a handsome building of pebble
stones, with rusticated angles, situated at the south end of the High Street,
on the beach.

The trade principally arises from the mackerel and herring fishery, in
which about eighty boats, of from forty to fifty tons burden each, are
engaged, employing about 800 men. Large quantities of mackerel are
sent to London ; and about 40,000 barrels of herrings, many of which are
forwarded to the metropolis and other home markets, and to Italy, are
cured and smoked in houses at the base of the cliff, extending the whole
length of the town. There are breweries and rope and twine manufactories
of considerable extent, and shipbuilding is carried on.

Agreeably with the provisions of an Act of Parliament obtained in
1827, for forming a navigable communication between Lowestoft and
Norwich, a cut was made fi*om the sea to Lake Lothing, near the town,
which forms a harbour capable of receiving vessels of about 200 tons


burden^ opened by the admission of the sea on the 18th of May, 1831.

The market is on Wednesday^ for grain and provisions ; and toy fairs
are held on May 12th and October 10th. The county magistrates hold
petty sessions weekly at this place, and manorial courts occasionally take
place. The town having been part of the ancient demesnes of the Crown,
the inhabitants are exempted from serving on juries out of it. There is
a commodious town hall, and a market cross.

The parish comprises by admeasurement 1390 acres. The living is a
discharged vicarage, endowed with the rectorial tithes, and valued in the
King's books at £10 Is. Oid.; patron, the Bishop of Norwich. The tithes
have been commuted for a rentcharge of £351 ; and the glebe comprises
four and a-half acres, to which there is a house. The church is a large
and handsome structure, in the later English style, with a tower surmounted
with a wooden spire covered with lead, and a south porch, and contains
a fine east window of stained glass, a large brass eagle, formerly used as
a reading desk, and a very ancient and handsome font. A chapel of
ease was re-built by subscription in 1698, near the centre of the town,
but has been used for parochial pui'poses since the erection of a new

From the increase in the population, and the inconvenient distance of
the parish church, a new church was erected by subscription in 1833 ; it
is a handsome structure in the early English style, containing 1263 sit-
tings, of which 939 are free. There are places of worship for Baptists,
Independents, and Wesleyans. A free school was founded and endowed
in 1570 by Thomas Arnot, with £16 per annum. Another school, on the
east side of the High Street, was founded and endowed in 1 735 by Mr.
John Wilde ; the bequests now produce £121 per annum, and the surplus,
with other parish property, amounting in the aggregate to £271, is
applied to the augmentation of the salary of the master of Arnot's school
and other charitable uses. There are also schools supported chiefly by the
Vicar, and various charitable bequests and institutions for the poor, among
which are a fisherman's hospital, a neat building below the clifi*, erected in
1838 for six aged masters of fishing vessels; and a dispensing infirmary,
built in 1840. In the centre of the High Street are some vestiges of a
religious house, consisting of a curious arch and cellars with groined
arches, evidently part of an ancient crypt. The surrounding clifis abound
with organic remains, such as the bones and teeth of the mammoth, the
horns and bones of the elk, with Gornua ammonis and shells and fossils
of various kinds. The celebrated William Whiston, Professor of Mathe-
matics at Cambridge, and Mr. Potter, the learned translator of jfEschylus
and Euripides, were vicars of the parish; as was also, for the space of
fifty-one years, John Tanner, brother of Bishop Tanner, author of the


" Notitia Monastica." He greatly embellished the church, and purchased
the impropriate tithes for the benefit of his successors in the benefice.

Until within twenty years, Lowestoft was a mere fishing village, boast-
ing of little but agreeable situation and singular salubrity, frequented
almost wholly by persons whose views were directed rather to piscatorial
purchases than to pictui'esque position, and who were much more learned
in the connection between bloaters and Billingsgate than on mural monu-
ments or medieeval memorabilia. In time, however, the great natural
advantages of the place attracted public attention, and the harbour was
formed under the auspices of Mr. Cubitt. This harbour and navigation
afterwards fell into the hands of Government, of whom it was purchased
by a private company in 1842; and after efiecting some improvements,
and retaining possession till October, 1844, they sold the property to Sir
S. M. Peto, to whom was reserved the completion of the undertaking. To
him, also, is owing the rise of an almost entire new town, with a rapidity
and completeness of finish and maturity of aspect perfectly marvellous,
its streets being laid out in the most advantageous manner and in strict
accordance with the modern provisions for securing the sanitary condition
of the residents ; provided with baths, and all the minutiae of a watering-
place ; claiming precedence for its harbour, as being the best on the entire
eastern coast ; and the whole connected by railway with the metropolis,
with which it is brought within the compass of a five hours' journey.

Wlien the evidence of the discernment and liberality of Sir S. M. Peto
began to be fully apparent, Lowestoft became annually the rendezvous of
the elite of the Eastern Counties, and is, moreover, rapidly approximating,
in metropolitan estimation, to Brighton, and other fashionable marine
resorts in the same latitude ; one great pomt being its freshness and
novelty, and the absence of those cockneyisms which have converted its
more ancient brethren in the south into mere continuations of suburban
London. Here ever-varying scenes pass beneath one's view; for the

Online LibraryA. D BayneRoyal illustrated history of eastern England, civil, military, political, and ecclesiastical .. (Volume 1) → online text (page 37 of 70)