Southwold Bay (called Sole Bay).
Southwold provided much to entertain sailors, especially the town’s ale houses, when the fleet assembled here to refit. Many seamen and soldiers were sent from London, and most of the crews enjoyed shore leave.
Southwold is a small town on the English North Sea coast at the mouth of the River Blyth within the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The town is about 11 miles south of Lowestoft, 29 miles north-east of Ipswich and 97 miles north-east of London.
Quaker George Fox was attacked by a mob in St. Edmund’s Church, Southwold in 1659.
Southwold’s economic fortunes also fell in 1659 when a fire destroyed most of the town in 4 hours. The Town Hall and the town records it contained, the market place, prison, shops, granaries and warehouses all went. Three hundred families were made homeless.
In May 1672 James, Duke of York and Admiral Sir Edward Montegu, Earl of Sandwich, had their headquarters at Sutherland House in the High Street. This was one of the few buildings to escape the 1659 fire.
Many people remained destitute for years after the fire, despite charitable donations from all over the country. The town’s famous greens are evidence of early town planning designed to prevent the spread of fire in the future.
The Southwold Town Preacher, Mr. Woodward, found himself evicted from town in 1662 at the Restoration.
People in Southwold 1,000 years ago ate herring nearly every day, fresh in season, salted at other times. For centuries, shoals of these silvery fish meant food and wealth for the town. Rich boat-owners, fishermen and merchants paid to build St. Edmund’s Church in the 1400s. The industry was still buoyant in the 1600s, with a fleet of 50 boats sailing from Southwold for herring, cod and sprats.
Soon afterwards the harbor mouth silted up, putting the industry into decline.
The risk of storms, pirate attack and shipwreck had always been a reality for fishermen. But Southwold’s neighbor, Dunwich, is in trouble: Every year some of the village falls into the sea – it has lost 8 churches since 1236.
Sole Bay was once protected by two promontories, Easton Ness to the north, and Dunwich Ness to the south. Both headlands have disappeared as the sea eats away about a meter of coast every year. One by-product of the sea’s attacks on the beaches and cliffs is the treasure-trove of fossils discovered over the years -- deposits of amber (fossilized resin from plants or trees), jet (the mineral-like remains of ancient trees) and petrified wood and 17th century salt pans.
Over the last 400 years, Sole Bay has seen hundreds of shipwrecks. The coastline isn’t rocky, but the combination of North Sea storms and shifting sands and sandbanks make it treacherous.
In 1672, the huge Royal James went down during the Battle of Sole Bay along with 700 of its crew.