Sailors’ Reading Room Celebrates 150 years

Published: Sunday 12th Jan 2014

The Sailors’ Reading Room on Southwold’s seafront will be 150 years old this year. Events to celebrate this anniversary will coincide with the exciting programme planned for the first ever Southwold Arts Festival in June 2014.

The Sailors’ Reading Room was built in 1864 in memory of Captain Charles Rayley RN. It was built by Captain Rayley's widow, Mrs Frances Metcalf Rayley, who intended it to be a shelter for local long-shore mariners and fisherman.  During the 1800s, Southwold beach would have been heaving with fishing boats and The Sailors' Reading Room was a refuge where local seafarers could go and read “soulful” literature, as a deterrent away from the evils of drink.

Captain Charles Rayley RN 

Sea Captain Charles Rayley RN was born in London in 1871 and in the 1851 census, was registered as residing in 3 Queen Street, Southwold, with his occupation noted as “Commander Royal Navy”.  He served in the West and East Indies and fought pirates in Borneo.  During his lifetime he served as a Church Warden in Southwold and was a well respected local citizen. Today, 3 Queen Street is available for holiday lettings through Southwold Lettings. Click here for more information or to check availability at this self-catering holiday cottage.