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No 12 Queen Street

Mary Bye - Postmistress. (W) This is Southwold's first recognisable post office. Until recently, all letters have been delivered to Southwold addresses directly by cart or on foot, from Wangford which is on the mail coach route. Mary herself was the postmistress at Wangford before being 'posted' to Southwold. She is the widow of John Bye who died two years ago and was Wangford's postmaster before her. They have a daughter, Emily Bye and son, Benjamin. The latter was the mail cart driver until he falls sick this summer and dies in September. James Maggs records how he is followed by a succession of drunken letter carriers who are dismissed "fro ye Service" in short order.Meanwhile Emily takes over the Postmistress role from her mother who resigns on 9th November this year. (M)

Emily Bye - Postmistress. In September this year, at the age of 50, Emily marries Charles M Marsden who takes over the position of Postmaster a month later (M, C)

At some later the date (to be established) Miss Matilda Drewell, the niece of Charles Marsden, is thought to take over as Postmistress.

(Note: Whites has Charles Marsden taking the office in 1877 but this seems difficult to reconcile with the entry below)

The Post Office moves to No 25 Market Place where the new Post & Telegraph Master is Eaton Moore. (Charles Marsden dies in 1897 and this may be the date that his niece, Matilda Drewell retires as Post Mistress. Verification needed.

(Note: With acknowlegements to Alan Greening for identiying the site of the Queen Street Post Office, and to David M Lee for his article in Southwold Museum and Historical Society Newsletter No 11, June 2011 on Letter Carriers to Southwold).

Miss C M Critten - Bookseller and Fancy Repository. Miss Critten occupied both this and the next-door premises, No 14 (K1896)

Miss C M Critten - Fancy Repository (K1908)


Misses EH and EE Kent - Costumiers (K1924)

William H Brewer - Hairdressers (K1924) Mr Brewer has a hairdressing salon next door at No 14 as well as at No 10 East Street. It is possible that he uses the first floor of No 12, the ground floor being occupied by the Misses Kent.


Miss E H Kent - Costumier (K1933, 1937)



Mrs Bateman - Confectioner, Restaurant. (Source)

Mrs May G May - 'May's Restaurant' opens this year. Albert and May have previously run a home bakery and cake shop from their front room at No 33 Station Road.. They rent the shop and accommodation from Mrs Bateman. (Source: Gary May)

Mrs May G May - 'May's Restaurant'. Albert and May purchase the freehold of the premises in the mid 1960s.

1969 -70
The Mays
close the restaurant but continue the business as a bread and cake shop.(Source: Gary May)


Albert May dies in June and his widow, May, sells the property and the business as a going concern to John & Colleen Pryse-Jones (Source: Gary May)

C 1973
John & Colleen Pryse-Jones - Trading as 'Noggins' restaurant. (Source: Wendy Gibbs)

C 1976
Eric Woods - Hamilton Tea Rooms. - Presumably named after Lady Hamilton, Lord Nelson's lover. Eric has been the landlord of the Lord Nelson for the past few years. (LM)

Eric Woods - Hamilton Tea Rooms

Eric Woods - Hamilton Tea Rooms


Peter Woodward and Oliver Walker - 'Coasters' Restaurant opens in May this year.


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.

1905 advertisement in 'A Guide to Southwold'. With thanks to Robert Temple

1907 advertisement for Critten

May May in the front of her restaurant at Christmas time 1964, showing off some of her products.
Photo by Norman Parker, reproduced courtesy of Gary May.

Click picture to enlarge

View of May's Restaurant from the back room looking forward to the front entrance. The keys of the old National Cash Register till can be seen in the right-hand bottom corner.  Date 1964-5.
Photo by Norman Parker, reproduced courtesy of Gary May.

Click picture to enlarge

Part of the kitchen showing the six burner, double oven commercial gas cooker and grille. Gary May writes: "My mother did all the cooking here and was very proud of it. She kept everything in this establishment spotless, as can be seen."
Date 1964-5.
Photo by Norman Parker, reproduced courtesy of Gary May.

Click picture to enlarge

Gary May writes: "May G May's Queen Street Recipes. My mother produced this book of her recipes by request from her many valued and loyal customers. It was extremely well received and many were sold. Printing was by Southwold Press, Church Street.

Business card for May's Restaurant. Printed by Southwold Press, Church Street. Reproduced courtesy of Gary May.