Southwold: An Earthly Paradise
Author(s): Geoffrey C. Munn
Year published: 2006
Publisher: Antique Collectors' Club
Publisher Location: Suffolk
Total Pages: 264
Illustrations: 124 colour and 68 b&w
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Southwold is a nostalgic place where childhood memories are made from sunny holidays beside the sea, coloured beach huts lining the shore and the delicate pier straddling the waves of the North Sea. To some it is nothing short of an earthly paradise – indeed it was Southwold that inspired William Morris to write his epic poem The Earthly Paradise.
Southwold – An Earthly Paradise is a collection of vividly written essays that take the reader through the evolution of the town from a mediaeval fishing community, prosperous enough to build a magnificent church, to its modern identity as a popular, yet unspoilt, holiday town. However its history is a troubled one. The sea, despite its changing moods has been the only constant in a past in which fire, famine and plague have devastated the town.
A rich treasure of silver and silver gilt lies on the bottom of the coast of Southwold. It is a reminder of one of the fiercest fights in British history: The Battle of Sole Bay was fought against the Dutch in 1672 and the bloody confrontation is fully described and illustrated with contemporary paintings and drawings.
The greatest genius of English literature, William Shakespeare, heads an extraordinary cast of writers to have visited Southwold, including Algernon Swinburne, Thomas Hardy, Walter de la Mare, George Orwell, P. D. James and Esther Freud. J. M. W. Turner, one of Britain’s most celebrated artists, is known to have visited Southwold on many occasions and Geoffrey Munn has, for the first time, identified a number of drawings of Southwold by Turner. Whistler, Sickert, Wilson Steer, Spencer, and Damien Hirst have all followed in Turner’s footsteps.