How and when did Southwold gain its independence?

In 1489 King Henry VII granted Southwold a charter giving the town rights which would normally have been his. This charter enabled the town to own property and to hold two weekly markets and two annual fairs – Trinity and Bartholomew.

Southwold Market in 1904

Southwold Market in 1904 P284

In 1509 William Godell, a rich ship owner, merchant and Bailiff of the town, made a generous bequest to the townspeople. On the death of his widow his lands and properties, including the marshes and the Common, were to be given to the town in perpetuity.

By 1568 the town had acquired a profitable farm at Walpole.

Southwold was now self-governing and self-financing.

If you'd like to know more about William Godell and how his generosity 500 years ago helped to shape the Southwold of today, you may like to read Ronnie Waters' article on the subject, by clicking on the link in the right hand margin.