Gun Hill, Southwold
On Gun Hill, overlooking the sea you can not fail to be impressed by the eighteen pound cannons. It is said these guns were given to the town in 1746 by the Royal Armouries, as a protection to shipping against raids.
Legend has it that they were presented by the Duke of Cumberland because of the wonderful reception he received at Southwold following the Battle of Culloden….but as he didn’t come within 90 miles of Southwold that would seem to be rather a tall story!
It’s more likely that the guns were sent by the Royal Ordnance for the protection of Southwold against the Dunkirk pirates.
The Ghost of Gun Hill
The guns were last fired in 1842, to celebrate the birthday of the Prince of Wales, with tragic results. Whilst reloading No 1 gun for the second round there was a misfire. A soldier, James Martin, looked down the muzzle and the delayed explosion blew his head off. He left a widow and three young children, without any means of support.
There are many stories of the ghost walking on Gun Hill but no one is now sure which is No 1 gun as during WW 1 the guns were dismounted and buried.
The Great Fire
In 1659 a raging fire destroyed much of Southwold and it’s likely that before the fire there were buildings on Gun Hill. In total some 459 buildings were lost in the fire and many families faced poverty. It’s thought the distinctive ‘Greens’ in the town were designed to act as firebreaks should another similar disaster ever occur.
The only building on Gun Hill now is the Casino – originally a reading room. There is currently a proposal to turn it into a camera obscura, to replicate the one that was on Gun Hill in the late 19th/early 20th century.
- Gun Hill