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Title: The New Hand-Book to Lowestoft and its Environs

Author: Anonymous

Release Date: March 17, 2013  [eBook #42350]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)


Transcribed from the 1849 T. Crowe edition by David Price, email ccx074@pglaf.org

Lowestoft Marine Esplanade, Lucas & Son Builders

And its Environs;












p. iiiPREFACE.

Lowestoft is not only considered a very healthy and pleasant watering place, but, from various causes, is assuming a position of such importance, as to render it more than probable that visiters will arrive in numbers augmented every season: this work is intended primarily for their use; at the same time, it is hoped it will he found interesting to the residents generally, being a verbal and pictorial description of the place of their abode, and a repository of facts and incidents connected with its history.  The writer wishes it to be distinctly understood that the book professes to be, for the most part, a compilation; he has not therefore thought it necessary—except in a few special cases—to give authorities, or the usual indications of quotation.

Lowestoft, March, 1849.



Lowestoft is situated upon the most Easterly point of land in England.  It stands upon a lofty eminence, and commands an extensive prospect of the German Ocean.

Enthroned upon an ancient hill it rests;
Calmly it lifts its time-worn head; and first
Of all Old England’s busy towns, whispers
Its orisons, and greets the rising morn.

It stands upon a dry soil, upon the summit of a cliff, and enjoys a most salubrious air—keen, but bracing; and not being exposed to any of those unwholesome damps and vapours, which generally arise from low grounds and marshes, it is rendered not only a pleasant, but a very healthy situation.

p. 2The principal street, three-quarters of a mile in length, running in a gradual descent nearly North and South, is on the brow of the hill.  The houses built on the Eastern side of the street have all a view of the sea; many of them have an extensive prospect, and most have, in addition, terraced gardens which slope downwards towards the sea: these gardens, when viewed from the beach, present a very pleasing appearance, thickly planted as some of them are with fruit and ornamental trees, and shrubs, the roots of which, binding the soil, prevent it from being precipitated into the regions beneath.  A considerable number of the houses on this side of the street are, in consequence of these natural advantages, let in the summer season to individuals and families frequenting the town; those on the western side of the street, having no special advantages of this kind, are not so much in request.

Below the cliff, or terraced gardens, the fish-houses are to be found, where the greater part of the staple business of the town is carried on.

To the North and South of the town there are large sandy plains, called the denes, which probably were originally covered by the sea.  Towards Corton they are very extensive, and are covered with a p. 3peculiar vegetation: there, and near the beach, may be found amongst others, the following plants—

The Eryngium Maritimum

(Sea Eryngo)

„ Glaucium Luteum

(Yellow-horned Poppy)

„ Ononis Spinosa

(Prickly rest-harrow)

,, Cochleria Anglica

(English scurvy Grass)

„ Tussilago Farfara

(Colt’s Foot)

and under the fish-houses and old walls,

The Urtica Pilulifera

(Roman Nettle)

which is a rare plant of a noli-me-tangere character, having a very severe sting.

Lowestoft is the only market town in the island of Lothingland, which island is situated in the North-east corner of the county of Suffolk, and is formed by the German Ocean on the East, by the river Yare on the North, by the Waveney on the West, and Lake Lothing on the South.  Its length from North to South is about ten miles; and its breadth, from East to West about six miles.  It contains sixteen parishes, and during the Saxon heptarchy was part of the kingdom of the East Angles.

This last remark very naturally introduces us to p. 4consider some circumstances connected with


And Lowestoft has materials for a history.  That history, like all which worthily bears the name, reaches far back into the ages that are past.  Old Romans, brave Saxons, fierce Danes, have left some vestiges of their connexion with the place, however faint they may, at this distance of time, have become.  It has had its feuds with men who dwelt across the Yare, and nobly defended its own natural rights; it took no silent part in the civil commotions of the middle of the seventeenth century; and was no craven in the latter half of that century, in the wars with the Dutch and others.

Its religious history partakes of the various characteristics of the several ages as they have passed.  Priories and candles are dimly seen in the dark ages; image worship in the time of popery; image breaking in the time of puritanism; learned dissent in the time when liberty arose; warm-hearted methodism in the time of revival; vicars varying in their tenets, from the unmitigated Romanism of Scroope, to the learned Arianism of Whiston; and from that, to the Evangelicism of the present regime.

p. 5Its domestic history contains notices of plagues, fires, and storms, among the more terrific incidents; and of royal visits, among its pageants.  Among its improvements, we notice the erection of light-houses, the formation of the harbour, etc., all which will require more particular attention as we proceed.

But before we make any lengthened remarks on these points, it may not be amiss to make


Perhaps the reader lodges at the new and commodious houses, built for the accommodation of visitors by the enterprising Mr. Fisher, known as Marine Terrace.  Let him, after leaving the house, proceed southward to the Railway station and bridge, turn towards the sea on the Lowestoft side of the harbour, and, leaving Baron Alderson’s abode on the left, proceed to the Battery green; here he may see the Bath house, occupied by Mr. Jones, where hot and cold baths can be obtained; where also, in the Reading room, the principal newspapers may be consulted at a moderate charge.

Thence sallying forth refreshed, directing his course to the beach, and turning to the left, he may p. 6see the lower Light-house; and out at sea, the Stanford floating light.

Keeping along the beach, if at the commencement of the fisheries, he may see the boats launched; if during the fishing season, he may see the fish brought on shore; if at the close of the season, he may see the boats hauled up and arranged on the beach.

The Fish-houses here present themselves, ranged at the bottom of the cliff; and the denes afford the visiter several specimens of their peculiar vegetation.  Continuing his course to the Ness, he will find a post indicating the extreme Eastern point of England; this is near the East Battery.

He may now turn round and direct his course towards the hills; by walking to the left, he will come to the Warren house, to the west of which is a piece of water, where there were formerly pumps and an overshot mill, erected for the purposes of the china manufacture carried on in the town.

If he ascend the cliff, he will have an extensive prospect of the ocean with its shipping; he will also have before him a pleasant walk towards the town along the edge of the cliff, and to his right a beautiful landscape.

Crossing the gat ways, (which have been made for p. 7the purpose of admitting carts to the beach and fish-offices,) at the bottom of which are land springs, and a rippling streamlet, he may enter the town by the north Light-house; leaving it and Dr. Whewell’s residence on his left, the first house he passes on the same side is Mr. Preston’s, the next is Mrs. Reeve’s, further on is the Vicarage, indicated by a brass plate on the door, and opposite to it is the Baptist Chapel.

Further down, on either side of the way, are two public houses, which give evidence of having been formerly portions of monastic buildings; lower down on the left, is a bookseller’s shop, all that remains of the Swan Inn, Cromwell’s head quarters; opposite is the Town Hall, near which are seen the Market Place, the Queen’s Head, and Crown Hotels; further down is the Star Inn, having an extensive sea view, and at the top of the score near it, may be seen a brass plate inscribed to the memory of the Revolution of 1688; and nearly opposite is the Post Office.

Further down still, on the left, is a flint house, built in 1587, the residence of Mr. Took, the master of Wylde’s school; at the back of this is Annot’s school; nearly opposite Wylde’s school is the Independent Chapel.

p. 8Let him still proceed, and, leaving the High street, turn to the right, he will then see the Old Market plain, instead of crossing which, if he keep to the left, he will pass St. Peter’s Chapel.

Still bearing to the left, if he walk along the Beccles road, he will come to Rotterdam house, once a public house, bearing the sign of “the town of Rotterdam.”

If he has not been to the Church, he may get there from this point by a foot path across the fields; or, instead of going to the church, he may take the road opposite Rotterdam house, and either proceed straight forward to the Railway and the various works connected with it, or, vaulting a stile on his left, he may enter a pleasant foot path conducting him towards the town; this path will lead him over a rising ground, from which he may obtain a splendid prospect, (let him turn himself round and admire the views by land and sea!) and will then bring him out upon the turnpike road, nearly opposite the spot from which he started; he may now go in and read what we have further to say about the town.

As perhaps the visitor may wish to make a special pilgrimage to the church, his better plan will be to start off for that purpose from the upper part of the p. 9town, where, at the end of the pavement, he will find a lane which leads directly to the building he is in search of.  As he walks along this lane he may notice on his right, another leading to the hills (i.e. to the common at the north of the town) which, having found, let him make a note of, and then proceed.  After leaving the church he may return by the road, he will then have the piece of ground in which are the Basket Wells on his right, and the Infirmary opposite; he may then enter the High Street again by either of the streets which are before him.


The Romans had a station in the neighbourhood of Lowestoft called Garianonum; its present name is Burgh Castle.  Whilst there, it is probable that they frequented the coast at Lowestoft, as, from its situation, it afforded them a post of observation which they would not be likely to neglect.  This probability is strengthened by the fact, that some years ago, a Roman urn containing bones, was found p. 10in a piece of ground now traversed by the Railway.  It has been supposed that they obtained their knowledge of herrings from their connexion with this spot.


The Danes are supposed to have given the town, and island on which the town is situated, a name.  The tradition is briefly this:—Lothbroch of royal blood, when hawking on the coast of Denmark, was overtaken by a tempest and driven across the German Ocean, into the Yare, where he was taken and brought before Edmund, King of the East Angles.  The King and Lothbroch were pleased each with the other, so much so, that the Dane continued an inmate of the king’s palace.  He conceived a great relish for hunting, in which exercise he took lessons from Berno the king’s huntsman, and soon eclipsed his teacher in the chase.  Berno, envious on account of his proficiency, secretly murdered him; his body was discovered by means of his Greyhound, which kept watch beside the body, and left it only when, urged by hunger, he occasionally visited the palace for food.  The dog was followed, the p. 11body found; Berno was suspected, and being found guilty, was put on board Lothbroch’s boat, and committed to the mercy of the winds and waves.  He was carried to Denmark, where he affirmed that Lothbroch had been murdered by Edmund, the king of the East Angles.  The sons of Lothbroch came over to avenge their father’s death.  Edmund was taken prisoner, was bound to a stake, and shot to death with arrows in the year 871, and with him expired the kingdom of the East Angles.

“After the death of Edmund” says Ives, “the Danes settled themselves in Lothingland, to which tract of land they are supposed to have given that name, in remembrance of their ancestor Lothbroch.”  The town itself was anciently called Lothu Wistoft, which name may have been given to it as the town of Lothingland—the land of Lothbroch,—at any rate, the three names begin with an L, and that, in an etymological discussion, is something.


The following extract from the town book, taken from Camden, is given in Gillingwater’s History p. 12and transferred to our pages, as containing valuable information on our present subject.

“About the year of our Lord 1100, about 500 years past,” (i.e. about A.D. 600) “it pleased God to lay the first foundation of the east town of Yarmouth into firm land, even out of the main sea.  Which place was then called and known by the name of Sardike sand, and Sardike shore; and in a short time it proved to be a fit and commodious place for a town to be built, meet for sea-faring men to inhabit in.  And by the permission of many noble kings in this land, his majesties progenitors, many did resort thither, and began to build the same, and to enclose it with a stone wall on the east side of the town (the haven being on the west side), insomuch, that, within a short time the same grew populous.”

“And long before Yarmouth town was incorporated, the barons of the five ports did yearly hold a free fair in the three towns of Yarmouth (that is to say) Easton, Weston, and Southton, beginning the said fair on the feast of St. Michael, and so continued forty days together.”

“And by the authority of the king, they did then use to make their repair thither, on purpose for the governing of the said fair.  And in those days there p. 13was yearly sent from the brotherhood of the five ports, and the ancient towns, nine or ten bailiffs who governed the fair.  And it is to be noted that long before any liberties were granted to Yarmouth, the towns of Lowestoft and Kirkley, in the County of Suffolk, were built, and populously inhabited; and the then town of Kirkley being the greatest town of account, and the most ancient upon the coast, and being a haven town before that Yarmouth was Yarmouth, and thereupon the whole fishing seas upon the confines of Suffolk and Norfolk, take the name of Kirkley seas.”

“And to this day the seas upon those coasts are called or known by the French fishermen coming there to fish, by the name of Kirkley seas.  And long since, before Yarmouth was incorporated there was such trading and merchandizing of herrings at Lowestoft, and the same was by the Yarmouth men so much envied, that civil wars subsisted for a long time between them, with much bloodshed, until it pleased God to take the matter into his own hands, who ended the strife with such a great mortality of people, that there died of the plague in Yarmouth, 7000 persons, and then the war ceased.”

The sand on which Yarmouth was founded, was p. 14dry in the year 495 when Cerdick the Saxon first landed there, and shortly after Yarmouth began to be erected by the Saxons.

In process of time Yarmouth obtained a charter, and after a while the Yarmouthians attempted so to explain that charter, as to exclude the merchants of Lowestoft from purchasing herrings in the seas near their own town.  A violent rupture between the two towns ensued, and so far did their resentments go, that they fitted out armed vessels, commenced hostilities on each other’s property, and even committed bloodshed.  The case was in the end brought before the house of Lords and finally determined in favour of Lowestoft. [14]

All history gives a higher antiquity to Lowestoft than to Yarmouth, and on this point the townsmen have been not a little jealous: the controversy with its junior neighbour, nevertheless, was not a controversy for pre-eminence, but for an independent existence; this it has secured, and now, though long repressed, Lowestoft seems girding itself anew to run the race of honorable competition with its more fortunate rival.


Probably the fact that, in these wars, Yarmouth was Parliamentarian, had no small influence in determining the men of Lowestoft to be so decidedly Royalist.  We will not, however, deny them the praise, such as it is, of being devotedly attached to the cause of the mis-guided Charles.  Lion-hearted, noble minded Oliver, whose character has been blackened by the accumulated injustice of two hundred years, here, in the early part of his career, performed essential service for the Parliament.  Hearing that Sir John Pettus and others entertained a design of forming a counter-association, to oppose that into which the Eastern counties had entered on the part of the Parliament, he marched with the utmost expedition to Lowestoft, surprised them and frustrated their purpose.

Whilst here, at least two honest men met together, who, whilst they differed, could sympathise with, and understand each other.  Cromwell sent for Sir John Pettus, and interrogated him respecting the design of the counter-association; at the same time he requested that he (Sir John) would inform him to p. 16which party he would adhere; Sir John replied that he should act for the King.  Oliver highly applauded his frankness and sincerity, and dismissed him with the remark, that he wished every other man in the kingdom would be as open and sincere in declaring his real sentiments and intentions. [16]

Cromwell, as was natural under the circumstances, took possession of guns and ammunition to a considerable extent, and made several of the principal inhabitants prisoners of war: the town also suffered from the license given to the soldiers, who lived at free quarters and plundered the inhabitants.

Yarmouth and Lowestoft having espoused opposite sides in this contest, each party fitted out armed vessels for the annoyance of the other.  Lowestoft seemed at first to have the advantage, but Yarmouth, having received assistance from Parliament, recovered its position.  In January, 1648, Captain Allen boldly sailed into Yarmouth harbour, avowedly to destroy the town, but, from some cause or other, determined on sailing away again without attempting to accomplish his object.  This story puts us very p. 17much in mind of the feat, so pleasantly and graphically described in the well known lines,—

The King of France, with twice ten thousand men,
Marched up the hill, and then marched down again.

Discretion is confessedly the better part of valour, and possibly the Captain, in this instance, without prejudice to his character for bravery, shewed that he was not destitute of prudence, a quality indispensable in a good commander.


Admiral Sir Thomas Allen, a native of this town, first commenced hostilities against the Dutch, in 1665, by attacking their Smyrna fleet.

In the great sea fight of June 3rd, in that year, off Lowestoft, Admiral Allen, Admiral Utber, and Captain Utber, Lowestoft men, were all engaged.  The Duke of York commanded the English, Admiral Opdam the Dutch fleet.  In this action the Dutch had 18 ships taken and 14 sunk, exclusive of those which were burnt or blown up; they lost 6000 men, including 2300 taken prisoners.  The English lost p. 18only the Charity of 46 guns, had 250 men killed, and 340 wounded.  Our Lowestoft heroes were also present in several other engagements, and aided in obtaining other splendid victories in the further prosecution of this war.

Sir John Ashby, another native, was engaged in war with France, in the reign of William III.

Other eminent Commanders belonged to this town, viz.—Sir Andrew Leake, Vice-Admiral James Mighells, and Captain Thomas Arnold; their exploits are mostly recorded on the monuments erected to their memory in the church, to which we refer the reader.

The next section will refer to miscellaneous matters connected with


And first we will notice some of the calamities with which it has been visited; these have been principally of four kinds: Plague, Fires, Civil dissentions, and Storms.

The Plague was felt in this town very severely at several times: probably in 1349, and certainly in 1547.  In 1579, twice as many people died in p. 19Lowestoft as in 1578; and in 1579 the Plague raged at Yarmouth; the inference is pretty clear, this unwonted mortality was occasioned by the Plague.  In 1603, 280 persons were buried in five months; and in 1635, the number of deaths during the year was considerably above the average, amounting to 170.

Several severe Fires have happened in the town.  In 1606 the vicarage was destroyed, and with it, the town records.  In March, 1644–45, property was consumed by fire to the value of £10,300; several fires of less magnitude have also done considerable damage.

The town could not engage in the various skirmishes with Yarmouth, Cromwell, and others, without suffering some of the natural evil consequences of War; but as we have already directed the attention of our readers to the engagements themselves, and to the nature of the contests in which the townsmen have striven, it may, perhaps, not be presuming too much, to leave it to their own imagination to realise the injury done to life and limb, and to public and private interests, by this greatest scourge of all, with which a town or kingdom can be visited.

p. 20It remains then for us to present a few memorials of the havoc committed by that element, the contiguity of which to our town, gives it the greatest charm in the eye of the visiter.

That mighty ocean which, for the most part, rolls so harmlessly on the beach, is sometimes excited and whipt into a fury, and then scenes of awful majesty, and sometimes of terror, are witnessed.  These Storms are not so seldom experienced, as absolutely to necessitate the constant repetition of the same story to illustrate their fearful consequences; but there is one which,—though it has been several times printed—as it has been related by an eye-witness, with all that vividness with which an eye-witness alone could relate it, we think it most suitable to present.  Our highly respected townsman, the late Robert Reeve, Esq., describing the storm of December 1770, says:—

“The dreadful storm on Wednesday the 19th instant, began about one o’clock in the morning, and continued with increasing violence till five; when the wind suddenly changed from the south-west to the north-west, and for two hours raged with a fury that was hardly ever equalled.  Anchors and cables proved too feeble a security for the ships, which instantly p. 21parting from them, and running on board each other, produced a confusion, neither to be described nor conceived: not a few immediately foundered; others were dismasted, and none escaped unhurt.  At daylight a scene of the most tragic distress was exhibited.  Those who first beheld it assert, that no less than eighteen ships were on the sand before this place at one and the same time; and many others were seen to sink.  Of those on the sand, one-half were entirely demolished, with their crews, before nine o’clock; the rest were preserved a few hours longer: but this dreadful pause served only to aggravate the destruction of the unhappy men who belonged to them, who betook themselves to the masts and rigging.  These continually breaking, eight or ten were not unfrequently seen to perish at a time, without the possibility of being assisted.  Fifteen only, about two in the afternoon, were taken off one of the wrecks; and about as many more were saved by taking to their boats, or getting on board other ships when they boarded each other.  It is impossible to collect with certainty how many lives, or how many ships, were lost in this terrible hurricane.  Twenty-five at least, perhaps thirty ships, and two hundred men, do not seem to be an exaggerated p. 22account.  This, indeed, is too small a calculation, if credit is to be given to one of the seamen, who declares he saw six vessels sink not far without the Stanford, among which was a large ship bound for Lisbon, with sixty or seventy passengers on board.  One or two of the ships which are lost belong to Yarmouth, and one to Plymouth; but the generality are colliers, and belong to Sunderland, Shields, and other places in the north.

“The concern this destructive scene occasioned to the spectators of it, was increased by the following circumstance.  When the masts of one of the ships, on which were eight or nine men, fell, two of them were some time afterwards seen struggling among the wreck; and at length, after unremitted efforts, got upon the hull.  In the afternoon, a pilot boat ventured from the shore; but it was found impracticable to administer any relief to the unfortunate sufferers, whom they were compelled to leave in their forlorn state; an approaching dark, cold, stormy night, heightened the horrors of their situation.  The next day, to the astonishment of every body, one of the men was observed to be alive; and about noon the boat again attempted to save him, and approached so near as to ask the poor fellow several questions; p. 23but the hull on which he was, being surrounded with wreck, and the sea running very high, it was impossible to rescue him from the impending danger.  He was at the stern of the ship: towards her head the sailors conceived it barely possible to board her with safety.  This they told the unhappy man they would attempt, and bid him walk to the place; but replying that he was too weak to change his situation, they were again obliged to leave him, making signs of his inconceivable distress.  The ensuing night put a period to his misfortunes and life.”

The following extracts from letters, written at the time, by the late Rev. B. Ritson, and the late G. Everett, Esq., and inserted in the public journals, have been supplied by Mr. H. B. Disney, one of the actors in the several scenes described.  The letters indicate at once the humanity of the writers, the fearful character of the danger to which the unfortunate sufferers were exposed; and the heroic bravery of the hearts which faced the storms, to rescue fellow men from watery graves.

The following accounts are by the late Rev. B. Ritson, many years Curate of Lowestoft.

“On Sunday morning last (Oct. 22nd, 1820) a heavy gale of wind from SS. W. was experienced p. 24at Lowestoft, which, towards noon, had increased almost to a hurricane; the whole sea was one continued foam, and a most tremendous surf broke upon the shore.  About twelve o’clock, the inhabitants of the town had the pain of witnessing the distress of a vessel, which, in attempting to gain the inner roads through the Stanford channel, struck upon a sand called the Beacon Ridge, and, in about seven minutes went to pieces, and all hands on board perished.  A second vessel soon after followed, and, in making the same attempt, met with the same melancholy fate, and all the crew were lost.  The loss of these two vessels, (names unknown) was so awfully sudden as to afford no time for assistance from shore.

“A third vessel, a sloop called the Sarah and Caroline, of Woodbridge, laden with coals, struck upon a sand called the Newcombe, and remained thereon with her mast standing; but, soon filling with water, the crew, consisting of five persons, took refuge in the shrouds.  Here their situation was most perilous; for as it was only half ebb tide, with the wind tremendously strong, no assistance from shore could be afforded them until the following flood, supposing the vessel should hold together so long.  In the mean time, every necessary preparation p. 25was made to render assistance, as soon as such an attempt should be in any measure practicable.  The Lowestoft life-boat, belonging to the “Suffolk Humane Society,” was got out and manned under the direction of Lieutenant T. S. Carter, R.N. and when launched, was towed a considerable way to the southward, to bring her on a bearing with the vessel in distress.  Still, however, when the tow was let go, the boat fell to leeward of the Wreck; and it was not until the tide began to flow, that she made any way towards attaining her object.  At length, after the most persevering and strenuous exertions, she succeeded in gaining the wreck, and providentially took the poor fellows from the shrouds, just as one of them was about to drop from his hold through fatigue and cold.

“In approaching the sloop, the life-boat passed, and was hailed by a brig, coal laden, which, on her return she boarded, and found in a sinking state.  She proved to be the George, of London, John Dixon, master, with seven hands on board.  These were also taken into the life-boat; and, about six o’clock in the evening, the whole twelve persons were safely landed on the beach at Lowestoft, without the smallest accident whatever, amidst the congratulatory cheers p. 26and greetings of the anxious multitude who had been witnesses of the distress.  The sloop’s mast fell about an hour after the men left it, and the brig sunk soon after.

“Too much praise cannot be given to Lieut. Carter, the pilots, and men on board the lifeboat, for their cool, steady, and intrepid conduct on this very trying emergency; to whom individually the Suffolk Humane Society have returned their thanks.” [26]

“On Friday, the 13th of January, 1815, at daybreak some of the Lowestoft Boatmen being on the look out, perceived a wreck lying among the breakers on the Corton sand, otherwise called the home sand, the wreck bearing E. S. E. from the Lowestoft Upper Light-house, and distant from shore about two miles.  Three of the pilot yawls were soon manned and put off, to visit the wreck to ascertain whether there were any persons on board, and if so, to render whatever necessary assistance might be in p. 27their power.  Upon approaching the wreck, the people in the yawls discovered three men on it, but at the same time found, to their great mortification, that by reason of a tremendous sea upon the sand, and the high surf and broken water surrounding, and frequently breaking over the wreck, it would be impossible for any yawl to get nearer without manifest hazard of being dashed to pieces.  A signal being thrown out by one of the yawls that there were persons on the wreck, the life boat was got out and manned with the utmost expedition.  The alacrity with which the brave seamen [27] leaped on board the life-boat is scarcely to be described; after encountering much difficulty and danger in passing through the breakers, they came near to the vessel in sight of hundreds of spectators, who, from the heights were beholding with astonishment their admirable nautical skill and dauntless courage; at the same time trembling between hope and fear for their safety, and lifting up a silent fervent prayer for the successful p. 28termination of their perilous undertaking.  Heaven in its mercy smiled propitious on their endeavours, and rewarded the exertions of these brave men with success, and they had the heartfelt joy of bringing the three shipwrecked mariners to shore without any accident.  The sloop was the Jeanie of Hull, laden with potatoes, and bound to London.  She sailed from Hull on Thursday morning, and about twelve at night, when off Hasborough Gat, sprung a leak which gained so fast upon the crew that they were obliged to run on the sand to prevent her foundering.”

The late George Everitt, Esq. writes as follows—

“On the 26th of January, 1842, about one P.M., a vessel was observed to be in great distress, on the sand called the Inner Newcome, the wind at the time blowing a hurricane, and the sea running “mountains high.”  The Lowestoft life-boat with a crew of nineteen men, commanded by Lieut. T. S. Carter, R.N., assisted by Mr. H. B. Disney, Trinity pilot, was most promptly launched, and proceeded to her relief.  By the greatest exertion and skill, a communication, by means of a life line was established with the distressed men, who had fled to the rigging for safety; the sea at the time making quite over the life-boat, and filling her p. 29with water.  Mr. Disney was washed overboard, but providentially did not loose his hold of the safety line, and was again drawn into the boat.  Seven out of the eight men on board the wreck were hauled through the surf into the life-boat, a distance of perhaps twenty yards.  At this time, the anchor of the life-boat came home, and with great difficulty and danger, the boat was sheered under the bowsprit of the wreck, when the cable was cut, and she then proceeded to the shore full of water, landing her own crew and the rescued men in safety.  Lieut. Carter was carried in a very exhausted state to a house near, where the usual means having been resorted to, he was, after a few hours, so far restored as to be able to return to his residence in a chaise.

“Meantime, the Pakefield life-boat, manned by a crew endowed with the same high courage and good seamanship, which had characterized their neighbours, made further effort to save the poor fellow who was left on the wreck, and had the happiness of rescuing him from a watery grave. [29]

“Our Society, assisted by our brave seamen, has p. 30again the high satisfaction of being made the means of saving the lives of eight fellow creatures; and at a Committee meeting summoned for that purpose, on the morning of the following day, gave its “mite” of reward to the crews of the boats engaged in the perilous service, and their hearty thanks to Lieut. Carter and Mr. Disney.  The Lowestoft life-boat sustained damage to a considerable amount.

“The Suffolk Humane Society (President, Sir T. S. Gooch, Bart.,) maintains and keeps in repair the two life-boats, and gives a stated sum to the crews whenever called into service, out of funds raised entirely by private subscriptions from Lowestoft and its neighbourhood, but which cannot afford adequate reward to the men for their intrepid service.”

The preceding quotations have sufficiently shewn the value of the Life-boat, and of that society by which it is maintained; no other eloquence, than that of such facts, is needed to commend the society to the kind consideration of the generous and humane.

Connected with the life-boat there are other contrivances, the object of which is, to render assistance to the shipwrecked mariner, when boats cannot p. 31approach sufficiently near: they are known as


In a note in his 69th page, Gillingwater says: “The most probable method of rescuing seamen from those unfortunate situations, that I can think of, is that of a kite.  When the storm is so abated that a boat is able to approach pretty near the wreck, let a line (which may soon after easily convey a strong rope) be carried by the kite over the vessel, and then let fall.  Thus a communication may be obtained between the wreck and the boat, and by that means, the seaman may be drawn through the water from the ship to the boat.”  Now, that which the kind hearted man threw out as a possibility, has been shewn to be practicable; a communication is obtained by means of this apparatus; a rope is attached to a ball which is projected from a mortar, and thrown over the vessel in distress: the apparatus is kept in the boat house, which is situated on the beach, near the lower part of the town.  During the summer season, visiters are sometimes gratified by a sight of the method in which this apparatus effects its object.

p. 32We now direct attention to various improvements and benevolent devices.—The Light-houses, Harbour, etc.


are at once highly useful, and present striking objects of interest to the visiter.

The Upper Light-house is a neat and ornamental building, situated at the northern extremity of the High street, on a commanding eminence, and may be seen to advantage by a person entering the town from the Yarmouth side.  It was erected in 1676, by the Brethren of the Trinity House, and subsequently repaired and improved in the years 1778, 1825, and 1840.  It is fitted up with large plated reflectors in a lantern of plate glass.

High Light, Lowestoft

The Lower Light situated on the beach, towards the south of the town, consists simply of a lantern, fitted with lamps and reflectors, as in the case of the upper light, elevated on a framework of wood; it has received this structure in order that it may be easily removed: it has been found necessary sometimes to change its place, as the sands—to warn against danger from which, the light-houses have been p. 33erected—are continually shifting.  Mariners steering in a line with these two lights, can safely pass between the Holme and Barnard sands, the channel between which, is not more than a quarter of a mile wide.

The purposes now answered by the light-houses were, prior to 1676, imperfectly effected by two beacons, one of which stood on the site now occupied by the upper light, the other stood on the north side of the passage going down the Swan score.

There is a Floating Light called the ‘Stanford,’ anchored upon the Stanford sand; it is fitted up with two lamps, which are suspended upon two masts raised for the purpose.  This light answers a similar purpose to that of the others.  In foggy weather, when the lights are not visible, a gong is beaten at short intervals, to warn vessels of their approach to the sands.

The instructions given to the persons superintending the lights are very minute.  The lanterns and reflectors must be kept constantly cleaned, and the lamps must be trimmed every few hours; a book is kept in which the time when the lamps are trimmed is regularly entered.  The persons who attend to the floating light are constantly on board p. 34the vessel during the time they are in charge: there are two sets of men, (six in a set) each set having remained a month is then relieved.


The Waveney originally emptied itself into the sea between Lowestoft and Kirkley, but being a shallow stream, could not resist the gradual formation of a mound of sand raised by the prevailing east winds, which, in time, effectually cut off the communication between the sea and Lake Lothing.  At spring tides, however, the sea would frequently break over the barrier, rush into the lake and over the low lands, carrying away whatever was not sufficiently durable to resist its torrent.  Mutford Bridge has been twice carried away by the waters of the sea, though at a distance of two miles from the beach.  In 1831 the river and the sea were again united.  The harbour was formed under the auspices of Mr. Cubitt, at the estimated cost of £87,000.  This harbour and navigation afterwards fell into the hands of Government, and were purchased of the Exchequer Loan Commissioners in 1842, by Messrs. J. Cleveland, G. and W. Everitt, J. S. Lincoln, p. 35J. W. Hickling, and W. Roe.  These Gentlemen made various improvements, and kept possession till October 1844, when they sold the property to S. M. Peto, Esq.

The act for improving the harbour and forming the Railway, was passed in the early part of 1845.  Messrs. Stephenson and Bidder were appointed the Engineers in chief, Mr. Hodges the resident Engineer, and Mr. Peto, the general contractor.  In the enterprise of Mr. Peto originated this great work.  Having purchased the harbour and navigation in 1844, he, with other gentlemen, chiefly in the neighbourhood, formed for the above purpose a company with a capital of £200,000.

The new Harbour of refuge is formed by two immense piers, extending for 1300 feet into the sea, enclosing the old harbour and an area of 20 acres.  The width between the piers, and consequently of the harbour is 800 feet, and the average depth of water in it is 20 feet.  The old entrance within the piers will be cleared away up to the stone work, so that there will be a spacious basin, large enough to accommodate 600 or 700 vessels.  The piers consist of a stupendous timber framework, (creasoted by Bethel’s patent process to keep out the worm,) on each side of the harbour, 14 feet high above the p. 36water, and 30 feet in width, filled up with immense blocks of stone from one to six tons in weight; these sides present a solid mass of masonry.  As the thousands of tons of stone required have to be brought from a great distance in vessels, and by railway, the filling in goes on slowly.  When this work is completed, a platform or flooring of four-inch planking, will be made on the top of each pier.

The north pier, after extending straight out east for 700 feet, bends to the south-east for 300 feet, and then bends again to the south for 300 feet more making in all 1300 feet.  This pier is intended entirely for business; a double tramway has been laid along it with a large turning table at each bend.

The south pier extends from the shore for 1300 feet straight out into the sea, and is intended for a grand promenade.  The head of each pier is circular, and 60 feet in diameter; Light-houses have been erected in the centre of the circle at the head of each pier, and at night a brilliant red light is exhibited.

The entrance to the harbour between the two piers is towards the south-east; it is 160 feet wide, with a depth of 21 feet at low water.

p. 37Beyond the south pier a sea wall has been built, with towers of flint and stone, and at the back of it, a broad embankment has been formed for the esplanade, which is a quarter of a mile in length, and 25 feet wide, and affords a splendid view of the sea.  The fine Hotel at the northern extremity of the esplanade, presents, in its internal arrangements, a study for the lovers of the curious and the comfortable.  Its contiguity to the railway station and the harbour, will cause it to be greatly frequented.

The inner harbour has been dredged to a depth of 14 feet in the channel at low water, and this dredging will be extended up to Mutford bridge.  A substantial machine has lately been built, for the purpose of excavating the harbour, which, by her powerful aid, will be rendered accessible to vessels of 15 feet draught, at any state of the tide.  She is of 200 tons burthen; her engines are of 20 horse power, capable of working in 20 feet of water; she is calculated to raise 1000 tons of soil per day.  Her form, engines, and mode of operations, are in accordance with the latest improvements of the age.

The new wharfing, the various buildings, the offices, engine houses, machinery for sawing timber, work shops, creasote works, coke ovens, coal works, warehouses, p. 38stations, and about six lines of railway branching from the piers on the north side of the inner harbour, occupy a space of about sixty acres; altogether this improvement will present one of the finest combinations of railway and sea communication in the country.

The Railway passes from the terminus near the harbour, over Lake Lothing, and through several Villages till it joins the Norwich and Yarmouth line at Reedham.  Thus, when all arrangements are completed, vessels may unlade their merchandize at the pier, it may be immediately placed in the railway carriage and transported to Norwich, London, or any part of England with the greatest facility.


is situated at the western extremity of the town on the road leading to the church.  The society by which this building has been erected was formed in 1822, but the building itself was not erected till 1839.  It comprises two spacious wards, well ventilated and warmed, and other necessary conveniences.  It has attached to it, a small museum of morbid anatomy, presented by W. C. Worthington, Esq., Surgeon to the Infirmary.  Funds are now much required for providing suitable food for the distressed p. 39inmates, whose means frequently do not allow them to procure what is necessary for them, whilst receiving the medical assistance afforded by the institution.


is a neat series of six cottages built below the town, for aged and infirm fishermen.  The cost of the whole erection was £600.


The giver of two houses (formerly four, but two were destroyed by fire in 1707) in the Fair lane, originally part of the parish work-house, is unknown.  The giver of a house towards the south end of the High street, is also unknown.

James Hocker, a labourer, who died in 1710, gave his All, about £120; with part of which, a stone and brick house in the Fair lane was bought, which is now occupied by such persons as the churchwardens appoint.

Martin Brown, merchant, of Rotterdam, left a sum of money, under the management of Mr. Wilde, sufficient to erect four houses for poor persons; with which the alms-houses at the west end of Bell lane were erected in 1716.

p. 40Before leaving this division of our history, we direct our readers to an episode or two of widely opposite characters; the first is


One of the dark spots resting upon the townspeople of more ancient times, is the share some of them took in the persecution of the “threescore witches” who were hanged in Suffolk.  In 1663, Mr. Samuel Pacey commenced a prosecution against Rose Cullender and Amy Duny, two poor old widows, for witchcraft practised—as it was said—on his two daughters, children, respectively of the ages of eleven and nine years.  After being placed in the stocks, and suffering other indignities, they were formally indicted at the lent assizes, held at Bury, on the 10th of March, 1664, before Sir Matthew Hale, Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer, for bewitching, amongst others, the aforesaid children.  Being arraigned, they pleaded not guilty; but after a long course of the most absurd evidence, the poor creatures were found guilty, and sentenced to death.  They suffered accordingly, on Monday, the 17th of March following.  It appears, that the good sense p. 41of many persons present rejected the evidence, and they would very probably have been acquitted, had not the learned opinion of Dr. Brown, a physician of Norwich, who was desired by the court to give his sentiments concerning the prisoners, turned the scale against them.  The Doctor stated “that he was clearly of opinion that the two girls were bewitched; for that in Denmark there had been lately a great discovery of witches, and from some books that had been published in that kingdom, it appears that the witches there had used the same method of afflicting persons as had been practised by the prisoners.”

We have next to invite our readers to consider


This town is not like common towns, obliged to be content with rendering a general homage to the throne, but was part of the ancient demesne of the crown, and has in consequence been entitled to many privileges, particularly exemptions from toll, stallage, chiminage, pontage, pannage, picage, murrage, lastage, and passage.  These, in the growth of the nation have become obsolete.  One profitable exemption, p. 42however, the townsmen yet enjoy, that is, from serving on juries, either at the assizes or quarter sessions.

Lowestoft has once seen a king: George II. landed here on his return from Hanover, January, 14th, 1736–7, and when the royal barge approached the shore, a body of sailors belonging to the town waded into the sea, took the barge and its freight upon their shoulders, and carried it to the beach.  J. Jex, Esq., with his carriage, met his majesty on the shore, and acted as coachman on the occasion.  His majesty (as appears from a notice on the staircase) was entertained at the house opposite the town hall, now occupied by Mr. Chaston, draper.

The town was favoured with another royal visit,

“That is to say it would have been,
If it had not been prevented.”

for the royal yacht which brought to England Charlotte, the consort of George III., would have landed here, as George II. did on his return from Hanover, had not the wind suddenly changed.


next claims our notice, and as the religious denominations are intimately connected with their several places of worship, the places and people will he spoken of together.

1.  The Episcopalians.  In this parish, as in most others, episcopacy has flourished under its two forms, Romish and Protestant, and the parish church has been its home, which even now presents many mementos of the time when Romanism held an undivided sovereignty over the minds and hearts of the inhabitants: but there are records and traditions of places of worship of earlier date than the present parish church, which we must first notice.  There was Good Cross chapel, situated in the south-east part of the town, probably near the lane, called to this day chapel lane; this has been washed away by the sea.  There was also another chapel which occupied the site of the present town hall; it was originally built on arches, and was but a poor thatched building, which, after having been long disused, was fitted up in 1570, as a place of protestant worship, for the convenience of the inhabitants.  p. 44In 1698 this chapel was re-built, since which time it has undergone various alterations, and has recently been converted into a town hall, in front of which is the town chamber, where parish business is transacted.  The building may be instantly recognised by the clock, which is attached to its front, projecting over the street.

Near the town hall may be seen the fragments of a flintstone building, in which exist the weather mouldings of one or two arches, apparently in the style of Henry VII.  Gillingwater conjectures that it is the remnant of a cell belonging to the priory of St. Bartholomew in London, to which the Impropriation of Lowestoft belonged; other appearances in the immediate neighbourhood, and especially the discovery of the arms of the priory, on a piece of timber dug up there a few years ago, seem to favour the conjecture.

Having now spoken of the ecclesiastical buildings, which either no longer exist, or have been appropriated to common purposes, we turn to the parish church and matters connected particularly with it.

The benefice of Lowestoft is a vicarage, endowed with the great tithes, through the exertions of the Rev. John Tanner, a former vicar, who, with great p. 45trouble and perseverance, collected money for the purchase of the Impropriation, which purchase he effected in 1721.

St. Margaret’s, Lowestoft


The church ‘standing by the roadside in its own little garden of Gethsemane,’ is a fine old building dedicated to St. Margaret, situated about half a mile westward of the town, towards which all the streets on the west side tend, as to a common centre.  The present building is supposed to have been founded about the middle of the fourteenth century, (on the site of a more ancient fabric, to which the tower, from its inferior proportions and mean construction, is concluded to have belonged,) though much of the tracery which enriches its windows, is supposed to be referable to a later era.

The church is with good reason supposed to have been built by the funds supplied from the treasury of the priory of St. Bartholomew, to which establishment the impropriation of the town belonged.  The dimensions of the church are as follows:—Its length, 182 feet; width, 62 feet; height, 43 feet.  It comprises a nave, chancel, two aisles, north and p. 46south porches, and a square tower, surmounted by a tapering spire of timber, covered with lead, the extreme height of which is 120 feet.  On the roof of the south porch are to be seen the popish emblems of the Holy Trinity, and of our Lord’s passion; and over the porch is a room called the “maids chamber,” formerly inhabited by two maiden sisters who lived a recluse life, and who left money for the sinking of two wells, situated between the church and the infirmary, called the Basket Wells; Basket being a corruption of Bess and Kate, the names of the donors.  Under the chancel floor is a well wrought crypt of stone, entered by a winding staircase from the interior of the north wall; and at the west end of the nave is a long narrow arch, supposed to have been originally used as a penitent’s porch, agreeably to the custom of the ancient church.

The great east window is filled with stained glass, painted, and presented by Mr. Robert Allen, a bookseller of Lowestoft, whose first attempt at staining may be seen over his shop, in the High street, now occupied by Mr. Thos. Crowe.

A large brass eagle, formerly used as a lecturn, stands with outspread wings in the chancel, supporting an old Black letter Bible.

p. 47The Font is very elegant, but has been much defaced.  The rich series of figures with which it was, and still is, partially adorned, were mutilated by one Francis Jessope, who, with a commission from the Earl of Manchester to take away from gravestones all inscriptions on which he found “orate pro anima” (pray for the soul), tore up most of the ancient brasses which were in the church, and visited the images of the saints with his peculiar displeasure.

One inscription escaped his search.

Orate p.aia dne Margarete Parker qe obitt po
die marciz ao dni mo bco bizo cui aie ppiciet de.

It has frequently been our lot to hear the most opprobrious epithets applied to the Iconoclasts of the times of Reformation; but, however much we may regret the indiscriminate manner in which they performed their mission, we must remember, that “their backs were yet sore with the burdens which had been laid upon them; their indignation fierce at the impostures and rapine which they had actually witnessed: theirs would have been a lukewarm zeal p. 48indeed, had it not urged them to abolish even the innocent memorials of that wickedness, which had been wrought in their eyesight, on every hill and under every tree.  Another period succeeds, in which the vices of a system are no longer distinctly remembered, and contemplated only through the softening medium of antiquity, and the services of the Iconoclast and the motives on which he acted are all forgotten; and he is regarded with mere horror as an incarnate spirit of destruction.”  [48]

In the chancel lies buried Thomas Scroope, Bishop of Dromore in Ireland, and vicar of this parish.  His effigy in brass, habited in his episcopal robes, with a crosier in one hand, and his pastoral staff in the other, was formerly to be seen on a large stone, surrounded by a circumscription, and ornamented with divers heraldic devices, but all have long since disappeared.

He was first a monk of the order of St. Benedict; passed to the profession of a Dominican; then became a Carmelite, and preached the gospel in hair and sackcloth round the country; then became an Anchorite and so continued twenty years; was made p. 49Bishop of Dromore by the Pope; then quitted his bishoprick; came into these eastern counties, and went abroad in the neighbourhood barefoot, preaching, teaching, and dispensing alms; and died in Lowestoft, January 15th, 1491, at the age of a hundred years.

In the church there are many Monuments, the inscriptions of which will interest and amuse the reader; some are simple narrative, others are written in the inflated style peculiar to the age in which they were composed; most of them tell their own tales, it is not necessary, therefore, to transfer them to our pages.  One, however, very short, begs to be noticed; it is found in the middle aisle; a small brass simply bears the initials,

Brass with initials R. I.

On the stone which bears this brass, there was formerly the effigy of a person standing in a praying position, with an inscription underneath, but these brasses are all stripped from their matrices.  This is most probably the index to the grave of Robert Inglesse or Ingloss, Esq., who died in 1365, and p. 50was buried in this church.  This, from its antiquity, is worth a special notice.

“In the churchyard are a few flowers and much green grass; and daily the shadow of the church spire, with its long tapering finger, counts the tombs, representing a dial plate of human life, on which the hours and minutes are the graves of men.”  Here is the tomb of John Barker, Esq.; [50] the resting place of Sir J. E. Smith, the celebrated botanist; the grave of the Rev. James Alderson, a dissenting minister; and the dust of the Rev. B. Ritson, an estimable clergyman: here, all ranks and conditions of men mingle their undistinguishable dust; here, are high and low, rich and poor, together; here, it seems as though all strifes are hushed and discords forgotten—one stone, however, close to the wall, on the west side of the churchyard, lifts its querulous head to perpetuate the remembrance of a family disagreement; it is raised to the memory of Charles Ward, and informs the visiter, who goes to meditate among the tombs that his heart may be made better, that “it is not erected by Susan his (i.e. Mr. Ward’s) wife; she erected a stone to John Salter, her p. 51second husband, forgetting the affection of her first husband,” it moreover begs that “no one may disturb his bones.”

At the east side of the churchyard and towards the northern corner, may be found two or three versions of the sailor’s favourite epitaph, wherein “Boreas’s blasts” are very powerful ingredients.

The other building in which worship is conducted in the Episcopalian mode, is St. Peters Chapel, which is a neat building, in the street leading from the south part of the town to the Beccles road.  The first stone was laid on the 6th of August, 1832, by the Rev. F. Cunningham, the vicar of Lowestoft.  The building was consecrated by Dr. C. Sumner, Lord Bishop of Winchester, on the 15th of August, 1833.

Church rates are not levied in this parish, the lands belonging to the church being amply sufficient to keep it in repair.  This being the case, those unseemly feuds, which frequently arise in parishes where this obnoxious tax is imposed, do not trouble the inhabitants.  Suckling wishes it to be understood that “church rates have been occasionally raised,” and quotes only one instance, and that, as far back as 1716: the memory of this might as well have been buried in the “tomb of all the Capulets.”

p. 52The deceased Vicars of note, are Scroope, before mentioned; William Whiston, who succeeded Sir Isaac Newton at Cambridge; John Tanner, brother of Bishop Tanner, who purchased the impropriation; Robert Potter, the translator of the three great writers of greek drama.

2.  The Independents have long had a place of worship in the town.  Before the erection of their present chapel in 1695, they worshipped in a barn, situated in the Blue Anchor lane, where the Rev. Mr. Emlyn, a learned man, was for a short time minister: since that time there has been a long succession of ministers, and the congregation has experienced many vicissitudes.  The chapel has, within the last few years, been altered and greatly improved, and has now a very respectable appearance.  It is situated in the High street, near the old market plain.

3.  The Wesleyan Society in this town was formed in 1761, under the auspices of the Rev. John Wesley, who first preached on a spot of ground in Martin’s score, near the Star hotel.

In 1776 their present place of worship was opened on November the 19th, when the Rev. John Wesley preached in the morning, from p. 53Rev. xx. 10; and in the afternoon, from Isaiah lxvi. 8 and 9.  The society is in a flourishing condition.  Their place of worship is situated in Frary lane, at the back of the Crown and Anchor hotel.

4.  The Baptists have a chapel opposite the vicarage.  It was built in 1813, chiefly through the generosity of R. Kemp, Esq. of Yarmouth.  S. M. Peto, Esq., M. P., has taken great interest in the prosperity of the cause, has built a commodious school room, and contemplates the erection of a larger chapel in a more convenient situation.  The Rev. J. E. Dovey is the present minister.

5.  The Primitive Methodists have a place of worship situated on the beach, (near the bottom of Denny’s score,) among that class of the inhabitants who are generally least disposed to go in quest of religious instruction, and here they usefully employ themselves in their important work.


The Public Schools in the town provided for the poor are numerous, and generally well conducted.  The principal are Wilde’s, Annot’s, and the British School.

p. 54John Wilde left several estates, together with the rents and profits thereof, to be applied for a virtuous and learned schoolmaster, who shall teach forty boys to write and read and cast accounts, and shall also teach them the Latin tongue.

Thomas Annot, merchant of this town, also left money for founding a grammar school at Lowestoft; and by a decree, given in Gillingwater, it is ordered “that the same school shall consist of a schoolmaster, learned in the art and knowledge of grammar, and able to instruct and teach the rules and principles thereof, and the Latin tongue, and other things incident, necessary, and belonging to the said art, to be master, tutor, and teacher of the scholars in the said school, consisting of forty scholars and not above, to be taught and instructed within the said school.”

Henry Wilde, known by the name of the Arabian Tailor, was master of this school.  He was a great proficient in the oriental languages, and was sent by Dean Prideaux to Oxford, where he gained a poor living by teaching languages; he afterwards removed to London, where he died.  Mr. Rogers is the present master.

The British School is a neat building, on the p. 55south turnpike, which was opened in 1844, on the liberal principle of educating the children of all, without distinction of sect or party.  It is principally supported by the Independents and Wesleyans, assisted by the munificence of S. M. Peto, Esq. M.P.  Mr. M. Hinde is the efficient master.

Sabbath Schools are connected with most of the places of worship in the town.


At present there are two fishing seasons during the year.

The Herring season begins about a fortnight before Michaelmas, and continues till Martinmas.  At the beginning of the season the boats sail off to sea, about thirteen leagues north-east of Lowestoft, to meet the shoals of fish.  Having arrived on the fishing ground, the fishermen shoot their nets, (extending about 2,200 yards in length, and eight in depth, which, by simple means, are made to swim in a position perpendicular to the surface of the water,) in which the fish are entangled.  As soon p. 56as the fish are brought on shore they are taken to the fish houses and salted; they remain in salt two or three days, are then washed; then spitted; (i.e. an osier wand, about four feet long, is thrust through the gills of as many as can hang freely upon it,) the spits are then hung upon rafters, with which the upper part of the fish houses are fitted up; fires of oak billet are made on the floors of the houses, by which the fish are at once dried and smoked; the herrings hang thus about a fortnight, and then they are fit for market. [56]

The Mackerel season begins about the middle of May, and continues to the end of June.  At the beginning of this season the boats sail to the north-east, in order to meet the fish at the beginning of their annual revolution round the British Isles.  A blustering stormy season is best suited to the successful prosecution of this fishery, for only then do the fish rise in large quantities, within reach of the nets, the meshes of which are larger than those used in the herring fishery.  The fish are generally brought in every day.

p. 57Small boats called ‘along shore boats,’ generally the property of those who use them, are employed in catching whatever fish will come to their nets; these are speedily brought into the town, and disposed of for the consumption of the inhabitants.

There were formerly two other fisheries, the North sea and Iceland fisheries, but they have long since been entirely neglected.


The vicar of the parish makes a claim of half a guinea from each boat on its return from the herring fishery; and half a dole,—i.e. one three-hundredth part of the whole catch—from the mackerel boats at the close of their season.  The legality of these claims is disputed, and, in the case of the latter, legal proceedings were instituted in 1845, by the Rev. F. Cunningham against Mr. John Roberts, who declined payment of the demand.  Those persons who are interested in the affair may obtain a sight of the argument, as maintained by the legal adviser of the plaintiff, in Suckling’s History, in loco; and of the argument, as maintained by the defendant, in a Lecture delivered and published at the time, by the Rev. J. Browne.


Before Kett’s insurrection in the year 1549, there were six pieces of cannon for the defence of the town; these were carried off by the insurgents to batter the walls of Yarmouth.  To replace these, Queen Elizabeth presented to the people of Lowestoft four pieces of cannon and two slings; these appear to have been carried away by Cromwell in 1643, but afterwards he found it necessary to build a fort and plant four guns upon it; some time after, the platform on which these guns were placed was destroyed by the sea, but the guns were rescued; after which, another platform was erected which shared the same fate; on this occasion also the guns were preserved.

In later times it was found expedient to build three Batteries; that on the south was begun and finished in 1782.  The fort consists of a ditch mounted with chevaux de frize; the magazine (in the north-west angle of the fort, thirty feet long and twelve broad,) is sunk beneath the surface of the earth, and is bomb proof.  To the east of this fort is the promenade, and the green known by the name of the Battery Green.

p. 59In the same year a fort was erected at the north end of the town, about one hundred yards to the north of the light-house; this battery was intended to act with another erected during the same year on the beach, near the ness, the bounds and breastwork of which are still clearly visible.


There was, some years since, a manufactory of Porcelain or China-ware in this town, but it has fallen away and become extinct.  Specimens of the ware may be frequently purchased in the cottages in the neighbourhood.


was established in 1818, for the purpose of affording to sailors, journeymen, and others, especially to the females of Lowestoft and its vicinity, a secure place where they may deposit the small savings they may be able to make from their wages; which deposits are repaid with interest at £2 18s. 10d. per centum per annum, agreeably to certain rules.

p. 60The office for this Institution is kept at the town chamber in the town hall, and is open every Wednesday from twelve till one o’clock.  Mr. T. Bird is the clerk.


was established in June 1843, for the following purposes—first, the diffusion of useful knowledge; secondly, the promotion amongst the inhabitants of the town and neighbourhood, of that harmony and good feeling which ought to exist among all men.

The means used for attaining these objects are—a library for circulation; the delivery of lectures on literary and scientific subjects; and the adoption of such other means as, from time to time, are deemed expedient by the committee of management.  The library is increasing both in the number and value of its books.  The subscription is one shilling per quarter.  S. S. Brame, Esq., is the President of the Institution.


Annually a Bazaar is held in the bath rooms, to which the ladies in the neighbourhood contribute p. 61principally articles of their own manufacture.  The proceeds of the sale are usually divided between the Church schools and the Infirmary funds.


During the summer evenings the denes usually present a very lively appearance; the members of the several cricket clubs are practising, not only for their own amusement, but that they may be prepared to meet other gentlemen who, residing in the neighbouring towns, cherish a friendly rivalry in the art of bat and ball.


Thomas Nash

the satirist, who flourished in the reign of Elizabeth, was born at Lowestoft.  He wrote a play called “Lenton Stuffe; or, the Praise of the Red Herring,” published in 1599, in quarto; he was also “the author of a slight dramatic piece, mostly in blank verse, but partly in prose, and having also some lyrical poetry interspersed, called ‘Summers’ Last Will and Testament,’ which was exhibited before Queen Elizabeth at Norwich, in 1592; and he p. 62also assisted Marlow, in his tragedy of ‘Dido, Queen of Carthage,’ which, although not printed till 1594, is supposed to have been written before 1590.  But his satire was of a higher order than his dramatic talent.  There never was, perhaps, poured forth such a rushing and roaring torrent of wit, ridicule, and invective, as in the rapid succession of pamphlets which he published in the year 1589, against the Puritans and their famous champion (or rather knot of champions) who bore the name of Martin Mar-Prelate; unless in those in which he began, two years after, to assail poor Gabriel Harvey, his persecution of, and controversy with whom, lasted a much longer time, till, indeed, the Archbishop of Canterbury (Whitgift) interfered, in 1597, to restore the peace of the realm, by an order that all Harvey’s and Nash’s books should be taken wherever they might be found, ‘and that none of the said books be ever printed hereafter.’” [62]


The neighbourhood of Lowestoft is by no means destitute of attractions, and, in its vicinity, visiters may enjoy many pleasant rides and rambles.

To the north is Gunton, with its neat little church and churchyard, the pleasantest approach to which is by the first lane leading out from the road which skirts the common on the west.  The church has been repaired and refitted under the direction of the Rev. F. C. Fowler, the present Incumbent; a fine specimen of the Norman doorway, on the north side, deserves notice.

In the vicinity of the church are the remains of Gunton Old Hall, now much altered and improved; at a short distance from which, is the new Hall, the residence of R. C. Fowler, Esq.  On leaving the churchyard, a road to the right will conduct the pedestrian to the turnpike road again.

p. 66If, instead of turning off in the direction of Gunton, the rambler should pursue the road on the west of the common, he will be struck with the beauty of the new marine abode of Holland Birkett, Esq., a little beyond which, is the residence of the Rev. F. C. Fowler, both delightfully situated on the edge of the cliff.  The architecture of the former is a combination of the Swiss and Elizabethan styles.  The garden and grounds are tastefully laid out, and will amply repay the stranger for a visit.

Further north is the village of Corton, the church of which is a ruin; public worship is, however, performed in a portion of it, which has been fitted up for that purpose.  The tower is ninety feet high.  To the west are the Corton Cliffs, which present a commanding view of the ocean and its shipping, of which latter there is usually a plentiful supply.

On return, the sandy beach and the rabbit warren under the cliff, offer a choice of walks; if the latter be chosen, it will lead past the Warren house, along a path as pleasant as any in the neighbourhood, and eventually bring the traveller out near the upper light-house.

The village of Blundeston lies to the west of the Yarmouth road; here are seen the house belonging p. 67to J. Chapman, Esq., and Blundeston House, the delightful residence of Charles Steward, Esq., which, with its grounds, was once the property of the Rev. Norton Nicholls, and a place admired and frequently visited by the poet Gray.  The church at Blundeston is an old Norman erection with a circular tower; its roof has been lately covered with flakes of stone, about half or three-quarters of an inch in thickness; and its principal internal decoration, is a fragment of a screen on which is represented the story of St. Peter and the Angel.

Not far from Blundeston Church, to the south, Thomas Morse, Esq., has erected a substantial house in one of the most delightful situations the country affords.

From Blundeston the visiter may approach Somerleyton.  Here, the principal object of interest is the Hall, the seat of S. M. Peto, Esq., M.P.  It stands in a park of no very great extent, but well planted, possessing a stately avenue of lime trees which, in summer are surpassingly beautiful.  Fuller in his Worthies, vol. ii. uses these words, “Sommerley Hall, nigh Yarmouth, well answering the name thereof: for here sommer is to be seen in the depth of winter, in the pleasant walks beset on both sides with p. 68firr trees, green all the year long; besides other curiosities.”  This Hall was the seat of Sir John Wentworth during the civil wars; his name and place of abode occur in the histories of that period.  Mr. Peto has made very extensive alterations and improvements both in the house and grounds; he has also erected a neat and commodious Chapel and a Gothic School room in this parish.

The mere, called “the wicker well,” belonging to Cammant Money, Esq., is a small lake in this parish; its banks are fringed with shrubs interwoven with tall and graceful trees, producing on the whole a very pleasing effect.

At no great distance from Somerleyton is Herringfleet, the Church of which is an interesting structure, unquestionably Norman.

St. Olave’s in Herringfleet was formerly a priory of black canons, founded by Roger Fitz-Ozbert, of Sommerley, to the honor of St. Mary, and St. Olave the king and the martyr, in the beginning of the reign of Henry III.  The remains of this priory were chiefly taken down in 1784, but some parts of it are still left near the bridge, which superseded a ferry that existed here at a very remote period, which “before the reign of Edward I., was kept by one p. 69Sireck, a fisherman, who received for his trouble, bread, herrings, and such like things, to the value of twenty shillings a year;” it descended to several generations of the family.  In the reign of Henry V. permission was given to Jeffery Pollerin of Yarmouth, to build a bridge ‘over the water between Norfolk and Suffolk,’ which, however, was not built.  The old bridge and causeway over Haddiscoe dam were constructed in the reign of Henry VII., at the sole expense of Dame Margaret, the wife of Sir James Hobart: this bridge was repaired about the year 1770, but was steep, narrow, and obstructive to the navigation of the river: it has lately given place to a beautifully designed Iron Bow Suspension Bridge, of curious mechanism, which is in every sense an ornament to the neighbourhood.

In Herringfleet on the road to Somerleyton, the Misses Leathes have erected a beautiful Villa, of which Messrs. Lucas and Son were the builders.


The visiter may enjoy a pleasant ride through Blundeston, Lound, and Belton; he will then arrive at Burgh Castle, the Garianonum of the Romans.

N.E. View of Burgh Castle, Suffolk

“In the construction of this camp, the Romans pursued their usual method of security in building, p. 70and practised their favourite military architecture.  It formed an irregular parallelogram, the parallel sides of which were equally right lines, and equally long, but the corners were rounded.  Those camps which were one third longer than they were broad, were esteemed the most beautiful; but here the proportion is as two to one.

“The principal wall of this station, in which is placed the Porta Prætoria, is that to the east, 14 feet high, 214 yards long, and 9 feet broad; the north and southern walls are just the same height and breadth, and just half the length; the western side has no remains of any wall, nor can we determine, with certainty, whether it ever had any; the sea might, possibly, be considered as a sufficient barrier on that side, and the steepness of the hill, as a collateral security.  Four massive round towers defend the eastern wall; the northern has one; and another, now thrown down, stood opposite on the southern.  These towers were added after building the walls, and served not only to ornament and strengthen them, but as turres exploratorii; each having on the top a round hole two feet deep, and as many in diameter, evidently designed both for the erection of standards and signals, and for the p. 71admission of light temporary watch-towers, under the care, and for the use of the speculatores.  The south-west corner of the station forms the pretorium, raised by the earth taken out of a vallum which surrounds and secures it, and which is sunk eight feet lower than the common surface of the area.  Near this was placed the south tower, which being undermined some years since, by the force of the water running down the vallum after some very heavy rains, is fallen on one side near its former situation, but remains perfectly entire.  The north tower having met with a similar accident, is reclined from the wall at the top about six feet, has drawn a part of it, and caused a breach near it.  The whole area of the station contains four acres and two roods; and including the walls, five acres, two roods, and twenty perches.

“The mortar made use of by the Romans in this work, was composed of lime and sand, unrefined by the sieve, and incorporated with common gravel and pebbles.  It was used two different ways; one cold, in the common manner now in use; the other, rendered fluid by fire and applied boiling hot.  From the artful mixture of both in the same building, and from the coarse materials of the composition, this p. 72cement is extremely hard and durable, very difficult to break, and for several days indissoluble in water.  The Romans, raising the wall to a convenient height with the former sort, at the end of every day’s work poured the latter upon it: which immediately filled up the interstices, and when cold, proved a most powerful adhesive.  The Roman bricks made use of at Burgh are of a fine red colour and very close texture; they are about one foot and a half long, one foot broad, and an inch and an half thick.  It does not, however, appear that the Romans had any exact standard for the size of their bricks: in different stations their dimensions are considerably varied.  We ought, however, to observe, that either in the choice of their materials, or in their method of preparing them, they far excel those of later days, being much harder and less porous than ours; and for durableness, more resembling stone, for which they were, undoubtedly, substituted.”


Again starting from Lowestoft by the western outlet, passing the church, and keeping to the right, along the road leading to St. Olave’s bridge, Oulton High House will be presented to notice, an old manor house, some of the internal decorations of p. 73which are highly wrought and valuable: it dates from the days of Elizabeth.  Between this and the church, which lies to the westward, is the Rectory, which has been recently built, the abode of the Rev. C. H. Cox.

The church is a curious structure, having its tower in the centre: but the objects of greatest interest are within.  In the centre of the chancel floor lies the full-sized effigy of an ecclesiastic, habited in the gorgeous sacerdotal vestments of the Roman church; this is Sire Adam Bacon, presbyter.  Ives supposes this to be the oldest and most magnificent sepulchral brass, placed to an ecclesiastic, now remaining in England.

On a large stone near the chancel door are the effigies of John Fastolf, Esq., and Katherine his wife, which were placed there in 1479.  Gillingwater, page 275, discovers a relationship between these Fastolfs and the redoubtable Knight of the “Merry wives of Windsor,” and “Henry IV.”

Close to the church is the Hall, now the property of George Borrow, Esq., whose pleasant and retired residence is a little to the right of it, overlooking the Oulton Broad.

p. 74On the road from Oulton church to Lowestoft is the house of E. Leathes, Esq., at Normanstone, which has a fine view of the Railway and Lake Lothing, with the parish of Kirtley in the distance.


The road to Beccles—though in some parts of it pleasing—is less attractive than others in the neighbourhood, in consequence of the marshes on one side of it; but midway between Lowestoft and Beccles is Cove Hall, the residence of William Everitt, Esq. and nearer Beccles is the beautiful seat of the Earl of Gosford, with its park and grounds.  The town of Beccles and its neighbourhood present several attractions—its fine old church with its detached tower; its nursery grounds and several gentlemen’s seats; not to mention other objects worthy of notice, will all repay examination.


To the south of the harbour, and through Kirtley, is the village of Pakefield, which may be approached either by the sea-side, or by the turnpike road.  The church has a double nave and is neat and carefully preserved.  The font and several brasses deserve attention.  Beyond Pakefield is Kessingland, and p. 75between the two villages, on the beach, is a neat and new Light-house: the walk along the cliff here is very pleasant; several coins and other curiosities have been found at different times, specimens of which may be obtained of an old man who lives close by.

Through Kessingland lies Covehithe; the ruins of its church covered with ivy, and venerable in its decay, are thus described by Davy in his architectural antiquities.  “These splendid ruins attest the former wealth and populousness of a place, which now ranks among the poorest and meanest parishes in the county.  All the ancient part of this once stately pile is now in complete decay; but divine service is performed in a small edifice erected within the nave of the old one, though it does not occupy one half of it.  This, as appears from an inscription on a stone in the north wall, was completed in the year 1672.  The three grand arches at the east, still retain their position, though much mutilated, and, for magnitude and form, may vie with the noblest specimens of the kind in the county.  The tower, which appears of a more ancient date than the rest of the ruined fabric, still remains as a landmark for travellers.”

p. 76Miss Agnes Strickland, who resides at Reydon hall, not many miles distant, has thus sung the melancholy fate of Covehithe:—

“On gray Covehithe mild eve has cast
   A soft and mellow ray;
But o’er its glories time has pass’d
   With dark destroying sway.

“All roofless now, the stately pile,
   And rent, the arches tall,
Through which, with bright departing smile,
   The western sunbeams fall.

“The ivy wreaths unheeded twine
   In wild profusion there,
And oft with summer flowers combine
   To crown the oriel fair.

“The choir is hush’d, and silent now
   The organ’s thrilling sigh;
Yet swells at eve, from many a bough,
   The linnet’s lullaby.

“The grass-grown aisle all green and lone,
   No musing footsteps tread;
And even o’er the altar stone
   The mantling brambles spread.

p. 77“Tradition’s voice forgets to tell
   Whose ashes sleep below,
And fancy here unchecked may swell
   And bid the story flow.”

But we are trenching now upon the proper domain of Southwold, which is a pleasant watering place beyond Covehithe, to which, if the visiter should wish to rove, we advise that, on his return, he should take the road to Wrentham, thence proceed along the turnpike road past Benacre Hall, the seat of Sir T. S. Gooch, and so through Kessingland to Lowestoft again.

We have now performed our task, and heartily wish our readers health and happiness through the season, in the enjoyment of which they cannot fail to appreciate the pleasures afforded by the works of Him whose is the sea, for he made it; whose hand also fashioned the dry land.




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[14]  For a very minute account of this strife, and for the merits of the case, see Gillingwater’s History in loco.

[16]  Suckling has asserted that this was a piece of Cromwell’s “usual duplicity.”  The reader is referred to “Cromwell’s Letters and Speeches” edited by Thomas Carlyle, for a splendid refutation of the ungenerous calumny.

[26]  Names of the persons who composed the crew of the “Frances Ann” Life-boat:—Lieut. T. S. Carter, R.N.; H. B. Disney, James Stebbens, James Titlow, pilots; Thomas Aldiss, Henry Smith, Thomas Butcher, William Hook, William Gurney, James Taylor, John Browne, William Francis, Robert Chaston, Edmund Boyce, Thomas Humsley, Nathaniel Killwick, James Robinson, and William Butcher.

[27]  The persons who composed the crew of the Life-boat were, Henry Beverley Disney, Henry May, David Burwood, James Cullingham, pilots; Cornelius Ferrett, William Ayers, Samuel Spurden, John Spurden, Robert Watson, James Websdale, Samuel Butcher, Batholomew Allerton, James Farrer, Peter Smith, George Burwood, Matthew Colman, Edward Ellis, and James Stebbens.

[29]  This poor man was a teetotaller, and although left on the wreck some hours longer than the rest, when brought on shore was found to be less exhausted than they.

[48]  Edinburgh Review, Jan. 1840.

[50]  The interest of £1000 is left to keep this tomb in repair; the surplus is given to the poor.

[56]  This is the orthodox time; we believe the merchants now perform the whole process in a much shorter period.

[62]  Craik’s Sketches of the History of Learning and Literature in England.


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