Explore our dynamic panoramas

No 81, 83 & 85 High St - Buckenham House

This Grade II Listed building was probably built by Richard Buckenham, a Tudor merchant specialising in beer and fish. The house was left to his nephew, John Clarke who, in his turn, generously decreed in his will that the proceeds of its sale should be used for the benefit of the town. The man who bought it In 1608, was Thomas Warren, a merchant, Town Bailiff and Puritan, whose extended family - and their business - occupied the house until the 1700s. The family were Parliamentarians during the Civil War and, as a consequence, debarred from holding civic office after the Restoration.

The house seems to have escaped complete destruction during the 1659 Southwold fire.

In 1705 the Warrens sold up to another well-known brewer and Town Bailiff, John Thompson. John's descendants were responsible for giving Buckenham House its Georgian facelift and extensively upgrading the interior. The Thompson dynasty ended in 1806. and eventually the house was bought - with a large mortgage - by Henry William Gooch, a financially stretched member of the aristocratic family that owned, and still own, the Benacre Estate. When it was sold by William's widow in 1829, most of the proceeds were claimed by the lenders.

The purchasers were the ecclesiastical charitable fund, established under Royal patronage, known as 'Queen Anne's Bounty', and it became Southwold's Vicarage. The first vicar to take up residence there was the Revd H W Rous Birch, a nephew of the Earl of Stradbroke in whose patronage the living then was. This was Birch's second appointment as Vicar of Southwold; his first tenure was aborted some years previously when the Earl decided to give the living to his fourth son instead. But the latter died of TB and H W Rous Birch was reinstated. (The Revd Birch does not appear to have endeared himself to the townsfolk. More about tthis at Baggott's Mill, Field Stile Road.)

The building remained Southwold's vicarage until, a century later, it was sold to antiques dealer, Eric Tooke in 1929.

Vicarage - residential

Vicarage - residential
Eric Tooke - Antiques Dealer, purchases the building this year from the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty' and renames it 'The Old Vicarage'. ('Buckenham House - a brief history'.)


Eric Tooke - Antiques Dealer. Mr Tooke divides the building into several different business units and creates four self-contained shops on the ground floor, radically altering the facade to accommodate them. The first floor is tenanted by a gentlemen's club, 'The Blyth Club'. This is a breakaway group by ex members of the Constitution Club on South Green who apparently feel the latter has been going down-market of late. (LM).

Eric Tooke also runs his own coach tour business - 'Wanderer Coaches'. See advertisement, right (Southwold Magazine1930). The Tooke businesses also encompass No 2 and No 4 Queen Street.

Mr Tooke's commercial tenants before the War include:

Marion Brashier - 'Marion's' Art & Needlework Depot. (K1933, K1937, SRB1939). Miss Brashier's address is recorded at No 83 in 1933 but at 85 in 1937. The latter appears to be the basement. Her business is a long-lived one in Southwold; she is recorded at No 11 East Street in 1908, and at No 29 Station Road in 1924. Her present address will not be the last: she will move up the road to No 73 High Street by 1946.

J H Wigg - Fruit, Vegetables and Flowers. Recorded at No 83. (K1933, SPM1933)

Lowestoft Coaling Co Ltd - Coal Merchants. Recorded at No 83. (K1937, SRB 1939).

Eastern Counties Bus Company - purchases the entire building from Eric Tooke. They take an office here but otherwise retain the mix of businesses already established
. However, in August this year, the bus company tables a proposal to demolish a good part of the ground floor to the left of the main door to create an entrance to a new bus garage which is to be constructed behind the building in the extensive mature gardens of Buckenham House. Buses would exit the garage into Mill Lane. The proposals outrage Southwold Borough Council and MP P C Loftus takes up the anti-cause. The proposal is roundly defeated.

Lowestoft Coaling Co Ltd - Coal Merchants. Recorded at No 83 (SRB1940)

G C Rous & Son - Brick and Tile Company based in Lowestoft. Recorded at No 83. (SRB1947)

Marion Brashier - 'Marion's' Art & Needlework Depot. Now recorded at No 85 (SRB1940) See also 1933, above.

Eastern Counties Bus Company - Bus Office (SRB1945)

Government Food Office - Occupies 81b for dispensing free orange juice and cod liver oil for children during the period of food rationing. (LM)


The Dutch Barn Restaurant - The restaurant has temporarily relocated to No 81b from its original premises in Ferry Road which is being repaired following a fire.

G C Rous & Son - Brick and Tile Company based in Lowestoft. Now recorded at 81a. (CSP1953, SRB1954). The company goes into receivership in 1957 (London Gazette)

Eastern Counties Bus Company - Bus Office (SRB1954)

Marjorie Wright -
Occupies 81b, to the right of the building, where, this year, she launches a ladies' fashion shop called 'Mary-Louise'. She takes over the unit previously used by the local Ministry of Food office.(Source: Marjorie Wright's niece, Heather Osmer)



William Denny & Son Ltd - purchase the building and rename it 'Buckenham House" . They restore it gradually to its Georgian state.

Marjorie Wright - closes her fashion shop, 'Mary-Louise', which has traded at 81b for the past 25 years.(Source: Marjorie Wright's niece, Heather Osmer)


Buckenham Coffee House - established in the basement. (SLHR). The rear part becomes a Doctor's surgery (LM) More information required.


Southwold Antique Centre (Source) What part / parts of the building were occupied by the antique centre? When did it close?

John & Pat Wood - Artists' Supplies. Details required. Closed 2004?

Graham Denny - Buckenham Galleries - Art Gallery, occupying three Floors.

Buckenham Coffee House -
Occupy the basement


Do you have any memories or records about this address? Can you correct any of our information or fill in any of our blanks? If so, please email Barry Tolfree
Our forum facility has been withdrawn by the provider. Sorry for the inconvenience. We are looking for an alternative.

BSD - Bernard Segrave-Daly
BCS = Bygones & Characters of Southwold by Barrett Jenkins
C = Census
CP = Cinema Programme 1958
CSP = Coronation Souvenir Programme 1953
G = Gales Trade Directory
GRO = General Register Office
K = Kelly's Directory
LM = Local memory
M = James Maggs' Southwold Diary 1818-1876
MCG = Methodist Church Guide 1930
NA = National Archives
PP = Pantomime Programme 1933
PLR = Petrol Licence Records

POD = Post Office Directory
PPP = Pier Pavilion Programme 1924, 1926
RCE = Rotary Club Exhibition 1969
SCM = Southwold Catholic Magazine 1923
SCTG = Southwold Corporation Tourist Guide
SER = Southwold Electoral Register
SFP = Southwold Scouts Fete Programme 1947
SG = Southwold Guide
SGCH = Southwold Golf Club Handbook
SLHR = Southwold Local History Recorder 1980s 1990s (Mrs R. McDermot)
SMHS = Southwold Museum & Historical Society

SN = Southwold & Neighbourhood 1903
SPM = Southwold Parish Magazine 1895 -1954
SR = Southwold Recorder 1927, 1932, 1934, 1935
SRB = Southwold Rate Book
SRT = Southwold Railway Timetable 1915
SSAS = Southwold Sea Angling Society Handbook 1909
SST = Southwold Summer Theatre Programmes
SSW = Southwold Shopping Week Programme, June/July 1922
STG = Southwold Town Guide 1930
SVL = Southwold Visitors List 1907, 1930
SVCP = Southwold Victory Celebration Programme 1946
SWCG = Southwold Wesleyan Church Guide

TTR = 'The Town Revisited' - Portraits of Southwold by Stephen Wolfenden 2000
TTT = ''To The Town' - Portraits of Southwold by Stephen Wolfenden 1988
W = White’s History, Gazetteer and Directory of Suffolk 1874

Note on dates
Unless otherwise stated, dates given do not indicate the years in which the business started or finished but those for which there is firm evidence that it was trading at this address. Sources in brackets; key at bottom of page.


Buckenham House - The Vicarage - in 1895.
Click picture to enlarge

The Vicarage in 1910
Southwold Museum P1469
Click the picture to enlarge

Buckenham House in 1971, still with the 1930s shopfronts, before its imminent restoration.
Click picture to enlarge

In 1983 with the ground floor frontage restored to its Georgian state.
Click picture to enlarge

1930 advertisement in Southwold Magazine

Advertisement in the Handbook of the Southwold Golf Club in the 1960s

The two images above courtesy of Heather Osmer