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Sailors' Reading Room Southwold

Hidden Suffolk: The Sailors' Reading Room

Many know the popular and charming coastal town of Southwold, but what is probably not known is that a fascinating and historic refuge sits right on its seafront, facing the expanse of the North Sea. This little haven of peace and calm is a saving grace from the inclement weather. Grab your favourite pastime - book, newspaper or gadget - and take timeout to reflect these historic surroundings, or just indulge in a spot of me-time.

The Sailors' Reading RoomThe Sailors' Reading Room - a haven in one of Suffolk's bustling seaside towns

The Sailors’ Reading Room, on the Suffolk Coast, was built in 1864 as a refuge for fishermen and mariners to read, pursue Christian ideals and avoid the many drinking holes available to Southwold - tempting, even by modern standards! Step inside and you'll be transported back in time and into a world of maritime treasures; a sanctum, if you like, for model boats, seafaring objects, portraits of local fishermen and seascapes, aswell as other nautical paraphernalia - detailing Southwold’s strong connection to the sea.

They even have their own merchandise which offers an insight into old seafaring poems and archived events. The only snag – you must order via email or visit one of their upcoming events.


Sailors Reading RoomDiscover fascinating maritime history amongst the many portraits and memorabilia on view
Sailors Reading Room outsideEnter the world of nautical intrigue 

Discover Southwold

Anyone who has visited Southwold on the Suffolk Coast will know that the fresh sea air is mixed with an aroma of malt spilling out of the Adnams Sole Bay Brewery. And for many, that waft of beer, will always evoke fond memories of a Southwold holiday. Take a daily tour or, if your tipple is more specialist food, on-trend cafes, and boutique shopping, then you’re in luck. Mooch around the town for a largely authentic experience, with an abundance of independent retailers, housed in grand buildings - a glimpse into Suffolk's seaside heyday.


Southwold High Street on the Suffolk coastThe main thoroughfare in Southwold

iconic seaside attractions

Walk away from the town in a northerly direction and you’ll quickly spot Southwold Pier. Apart from the ubiquitous arcade at the main entrance, walk further along the pier and you’ll discover a rather eccentric and must-see alternative arcade full of intelligent, quirky experiences. Ride the ‘micro-break’ or beat the Somali pirates to the mother ship.  The children will find it memorable, as will adults seeking nostalgic fun. Before you head onto the beach, order a delicious ‘Hat Trick’ hot chocolate from The Clockhouse café. Remember to say ‘yes’ to all the toppings!
Southwold Lighthouse is another iconic building situated in the heart of town. (It featured in CBeebies TV series 'Grandpa in My Pocket'). Operated by Trinity House, it provides a helpful warning light to ships passing along the east coast and as a guide to vessels navigating to Southwold Harbour. Opens April and guided tours take approximately 30 minutes.


Southwold LighthouseThe iconic Southwold Lighthouse


Explore the area further south by walking along the seafront promenade until you meet sand dunes heading in the direction of Southwold Harbour. Here, the River Blyth flows out to sea, past colourful boats, black painted sheds, ending up at Gunhill. The harbour is a great place to take a break and indulge in some of the east coast’s freshest seafood. If you’re feeling energetic, amble around the harbour towards Walberswick and the iconic black huts. Or, take the short (fun) cut by boarding the human ferry: a family-run operation for 3 generations!


Southwold HarbourGrab a spot of seafood at Southwold Harbour


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