SOUTHWOLD, a municipal borough and watering-place in the Lowestoft parliamentary division of Suffolk, England, 12 m. S. by W. of Lowestoft, the terminus of the Southwold railway, which connects with the Great Eastern at Halesworth. Pop. (1901), 2800. The church of St Edmund's is a Perpendicular flint structure. In 1900 a pier 270 yds. long was constructed, and serves as a calling-place _for pleasure steamers. A fine common south of the town is used for golf, lawn-tennis, cricket, and other sports. The town is governed by a mayor, 4 aldermen and 12 councillors. Area, 612 acres.
Southwold (Sudwold, Suwold, Suthwaud) owes its origin and prosperity to its herring fisheries, which were considerable in 1086, while the importance of its harbour increased with the decay of Dunwich. In 1461 the men of the town, tenants of the manor which had been granted by the monks of Bury St Edmunds to Gilbert, earl of Clare, and had passed to the Crown with the honour of Clare, claimed exemption from toll, pontage and similar dues as their prescriptive right. An act of 1489 incorporated the bailiffs and commonalty of the town and exempted them from harbour dues. These liberties were confirmed in 1505 by Henry VII., who also granted the corporation the town and manor to hold at fee-farm with certain rights of jurisdiction. Confirmatory chapters were granted by Henry VIII., Edward VI., Elizabeth, James I. and Charles II., and the town was governed by a royal charter of 1689 until the Municipal Reform Act of 1835. The weekly market, now the property of the corporation, was granted to the abbot of St Edmunds as lord of the manor in 1227 together with a yearly fair on the vigil of the feast of St Philip and St James. A fair is still held on Trinity Monday. In 1672 Southwold Bay, usually abbreviated as Solebay, was the scene of a battle between the English fleet under the duke of York and the Dutch under Ruyter, the French fleet holding aloof. The English suffered much, but the Dutch withdrew.
See " Victoria County History " : Suffolk ; T. Gardner, An Historical account of Dunwich, Blithburgh and Southwold (ed. 1754).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)