THE SEA
COASTAL EROSION
The village that fell into the sea
 
Registered Charity No 1109571, Museum & Galleries Registration No 808, MLA (Museums Libraries Archives) Accredited
 
 
 
  The last days of a house on the cliff at Easton Bavents before it succumbed to the sea in about 1967. Click the picture for a larger view  
In the beginning
The Sea
Natural Southwold
Fishing
Transport to Southwold
Southwold at war
Christianity in Southwold
Industry
Arts & Crafts
Holidays & Leisure
Southwold the town
Southwold Shops & Trades
 

Find out more about Southwold’s struggle with the North Sea. Booklets are on sale in the museum shop.

 

 
 
 

If you’d like to visit Southwold’s neighbour, Dunwich, you’d better be quick. Every year a little more of the village falls into the sea – it has lost eight churches since 1236.

Sole Bay itself was once protected by two promontories, Easton Ness to the north, and Dunwich Ness to the south, but both have now disappeared as the sea eats away roughly a metre of coast every year.

Although the sea has also swept fishermen’s huts and boat-sheds away from Southwold’s beaches, the town has experienced much less erosion than neighbouring areas – almost entirely because of the continuing efforts of residents and authorities to protect the cliffs.

Southwold's sea defences were breached 1n 1906. Click to enlarge.

 

In 1906, just 3 years after the timber sea defences had been renewed, the cliff path in front of the Sailors' Reading Room was washed away. A well shaft was exposed as can be seen clearly in the enlarged picture. P1642

 

In contrast, the village of Easton Bavents was once a prosperous community with a market, a fair and churches. By the 17th century the church of St. Nicholas and most of the houses had been lost to the sea.

However, one stunning by-product of the sea’s attacks on Southwold’s beaches and cliffs is the treasure-trove of fossils discovered over the years. Eagle-eyed people have also found deposits of amber (fossilised resin from plants or trees), jet (the mineral-like remains of ancient trees) and petrified wood. In 2006, erosion revealed remains thought to be 17th century salt pans. More about fossils and amber in our storyline: 'In the beginning'.

Meanwhile the erosion of the sand cliffs at Easton continues and there is fear that one day the sea will break through and sweep in towards the town over the marshes from the North

 

In 1938 Southwold's sea front was again under threat when a storm destroyed much of the promenade.

Click on the picture for an enlargement.

P699

 
 
 

Use the links below to explore Southwold’s other sea stories.
Shipwrecks and lifeboats
The Lighthouse - Over a million bricks to save the ships
Southwold’s killer flood of 1953

 

The lost Church of Dunwich

Click to enlarge
The Medieval church of All Saints in Dunwich was almost as big as St Edmund's in Southwold. Its ruins had already begun to tumble into the sea when this photo was taken in 1904 and, by 1919, the tower finally fell in. The last traces of the graveyard behind have only recently been lost. This part of the coastline is now officially scheduled for 'managed retreat' with no plans to protect it.
P077

Click the picture to enlarge

 

CHRONIC GROYNE TROUBLE!
Eroded groynes pre 2005. Click on the picture to read more about Southwold's centuries-old battle with the North Sea.

Read about the efforts, that have been made (with mixed success) over the years to protect Southwold from the sea.

Click here to open a new window.

 
Whatever happened to Sole Bay?
Click the map to find out
   
 

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Southwold Museum & Historical Society, 9 -11 Victoria Street, Southwold, Suffolk IP18 6HZ
Tel: 01502 726097 email