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No 23 High Street - Part of the King's Head

James Maggs, Grocer and Schoolmaster, aged 32 (later to become Southwold's famous archivist and diarist) moves in with his family. He bought this cottage the previous year for £105 and has had extensive work done on it, including the provision of a schoolroom. Up until now, he has been renting No 25 (the smaller cottage and grocer's shop next door) from his former employer and High Steward of Southwold, James Jermyn of Reydon. He stays here until 1833. More about Maggs here.

John Crowford - Alehouse keeper. An alehouse licence (one of eight permitted in the town at any one time) has been granted to the owner of the premises. This is now the Revd Edward Jermyn (brother of James) who appoints Crowford (peviously from the Two Brewers) as manager. The alehouse is signed 'The King's Head' (M)

John Crowford - Alehouse keeper. The proprietor of the King's Head is now William Crisp of the Sole Bay Brewery who has taken it over from the Jermyns.

William Goldsmith - originally from Beccles, succeeds John Crowford as Keeper of the Kings Head. William, who is now 27, is married to Mary Ann (22) and this year they have a daughter whom they name after her mother. Their son James Aldred, is 10.

In spite of his family responsibilities, William apparently keeps a rather rough house. Maggs records that he is fined a shilling in 1855 for breaking one of the pub's windows, 5 shillings for getting drunk plus expenses of 6 shillings and sixpence. (M, W1855)

Note: A regular guest at the inn during the 1860s is Charles Blythe, a game dealer and fishmonger from Coventry. It is his practice to purchase quantities of fish at Southwold and despatch them back to Coventry. On one occasion, in 1868, he returns home with more than his usual consignment - a wife, William's 23-year-old daughter Mary Ann jnr.

Owner of the King's Head, William Crisp of the Sole Bay Brewery dies in 1872 and the brewery and all its tied houses are auctioned. The brewery is bought by the Adnams brothers, Ernest and George. The King's Head changes hands for £330. (M) However, not many years later, ownership appears to have reverted to the landlord, William Goldsmith.

Mary Ann Goldsmith (Snr)- By now, William Goldsmith has died and his widow takes over proprietorship of the inn this year.
(W, BSD)

Mary Ann Goldsmith (Snr) dies this year aged 59 and ownership of the inn passes to her married daughter, Mary Ann Blythe who still lives in Coventry.

Noah Cobb - is appointed landlord by Mary Ann Blythe this year. (POD) Mr Cobb will later (1895) be found at No 88 High Street where he seems to have undergone a career change - running a shoe shop.

On Noah Cobb's departure, Mary Ann Blythe appoints John Marshall, a native of Halesworth but, most recently, a coachbuilder iin London's East End, as landlord of the 'King's Head Inn and Foresters' Dining Room'. He advertises its virtues as a venue for 'Beanfeasts etc' and offers 'good accommodation'. John Marshall also owns a restaurant / tearoom at the harbour end of Ferry Road.

To read an account of John Marshall by his grandson, the late George Bumstead, click here.

Six years later, in 1896, Mary Ann dies at her home in Coventry and ownership of the King's Head passes to her son, William John Blythe.

John Marshall and his wife Emma have been married for the past 22 years and they have seven children. (six of them girls). Their eldest, Lily Elizabeth marries the inn's new owner William John Blythe in 1897. Like his father before him, William has continued to make regular fish-buying trips to Southwold from Coventry which is, no doubt, how the romance with Lily has developed.

William & Lily Blythe decide to settle in Southwold. In addition to the King's Head (No 23), William's inheritance includes the adjacent properties at No 25, No 27 and No 29. As luck would have it, the one remaining property in the block, Anchor Villa (No 31) comes up for auction this year and they buy it as their home. William suffers from TB and it is hoped the sea air will benefit him.

John Marshall is still the landlord of what is now a Free House and called 'The King's Head Hotel'. An advertisement in the Southwold Visitors' List of 1907 also indicates that Mr Marshall is in charge of bookings for 'The Assembly Rooms'. (SVL1907) He is also a Town Councillor. (SN c1903)

The Assembly Rooms were later to become the Southwold Cinema and were located roughly behind the King's Head where Southwold Surgery now is.

John Marshall was evidently an energetic and able organiser of large events. In 1897, according to an article in the 'Southwold & Neighbourhood' visitors' guide (c 1902), he took responsibility for "the entire catering arrangements for the public rejoicings at the late Queen's Jubilee, when more than 1,400 of the inhabitants of Southwold dined in the High Street, and recently at the King's Coronation when 800 partook of Dinner on the Common..." To read the entire article, click here and to read a description of the Coronation celebrations by George Bumstead, click here. John was a considerable pillar of Southwold society and a Knight in the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes. This is evident from his obituary in the 'Buffalo Record' of 1908. Click here to read it.

After John's death this year, his widow, Emma Marshall, takes over as Landlady, the owner still being William John Blythe who, with his wife, Lily Elizabeth, and their three sons and one daughter, now lives at Anchor Villa.


William John Blythe dies of TB at the age of only 33 and his widow, Lily Elizabeth inherits all the property from No 23 to 31, as well as a considerable holding in the Southwold Gas Light Company of which she now becomes a director, playing an active role in its management.

Lily Elizabeth Blythe lets out No 25 High Street next door, and later also no 27, to her sister, Violet Bumstead and her husband.

Lily Elizabeth Blythe (nee Marshall) remarries the recently appointed chief engineer of the Southwold Gas Light Company, George Crick.

Emma Marshall - Landlady of the King's Head (and mother of its owner, Lily Elizabeth Crick) dies aged 71.


H U Fenners is appointed as Landlord (BSD)

Lily Elizabeth Crick sells the King's Head this year to Adnams Brewery and, with the proceeds, purchases the Cinema in the former York Road Assembly Rooms from Mr R S Ransome. After she has carried out extensive rebuilding and expansion, she installs her son James William Marshall Blythe as its manager.

Note: Lily Elizabeth died in her 70th year in 1942 at Southwold Cottage Hospital. We gratefully acknowledge the help of her grandson, Jim Blythe in providing information on the Blythe, Goldsmith and Marshall families

P B Newman - Landlord (BSD)

W T Aires - Landlord (BSD)


W Snell - Landlord (BSD)

J H Dawkins - Landlord (BSD)

G W Gaine (confirm spelling) (BSD)

E E Bell - Landlord (BSD)

R B Behn - Landlord (BSD)


Mrs M Behn
- Landlord (BSD)

S T Ringwood - Proprietor? (BSD,CSP)

G S Young - Landlord (BSD)

H Charlton - Landlord (BSD)

R L Zimbler - Landlord (BSD)

G G Thomas - Landlord (BSD)

P Samkin - Landlord (BSD)

H S Case - Landlord (BSD)

R E Francis -Landlord (BSD)


M Rudkin - Landlord (BSD)


M Rudkin & G Huckle - Landlord (BSD)

M Atkins - Landlord (BSD)




Phil Goodacre - Landlord (TTR2000)

Graham Dungey - Landlord

Jack Fountain and Trish Hazell (Jack's mother)
- Landlords

Mary and Mark Ritchie
- Landlords

The King's Head closes in October after 177 years as a public house.



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
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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.

The original King's Head was the corner cottage now painted cream. The cottage to the left is James Maggs' grocer's shop, now part of the pub. The red brick extension to the rear is a later addition.

An undated photograph of the King's Head probably in the late 19th Century. The core building (No 23) is substantially unchanged in the present day, but the buildings at right angles and to the rear seem to have been rebuilt. (Photo supplied by David Lee)
Click the photo to enlarge.

William Crisp., first Mayor of Southwold in 1836, following the Municipal Corporation Act .
Reproduced from 'Bygones and Local Characters of Southwold' by Barrett Jenkins, with the kind permission of his daughter, Ann Thornton.

James Maggs in later life. From Barrett Jenkins book 'Southwold Bygones and Local Characters'. reproduced by permission of the author's daughter, Ann Thornton.

Emma and John Marshall in about 1888, with their children, Lily Eiizabeth and Violet at the back and Florence and Granville in front.
With thanks to Jim Blythe for providing this image.
Click on the photo to enlarge.

Emma Marshall & Family

At the centre of this family group (approx 1917) is Emma Marshall with her daughters Lily Elizabeth Blythe (left), and Violet Bumstead. (right)
Identity of others uncertain.
Photo courtesy of Jim Blythe.
Click picture to enlarge

Advertisement in Southwold Visitors' List 1907.
Click the picture to enlarge


John Marshall
John Marshall in the regalia of 'Knight' in the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes. Reproduced from his obituary in 'The Buffalo Record' in 1908. To read the full obituary, click the picture
With thanks to his great grandson, Jim Blythe, for supplying this image.

Festivities to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria when 1400 residents dined in the High Street with catering provided by John Marshall.

Photo courtesy of Southwold Town Council

Click the picture to enlarge