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MARKET TOWNS OF SUFFOLK (from SDUK Penny Cyclopedia)

Lowestoft in 1842

Lowestoffe or Lowestoft, colloquially Laystoff, as it was formerly written by some persons, is in the hundred of Lothingland in the county of Suffolk, 45 miles north-east of Ipswich, on the sea. The parish has an area of 1,950 acres ; the population in 1831 was 4,238, scarcely any part of it agricultural.

The town stands on the top of a cliff facing the sea, from which it is separated by a beach, in some parts nearly half a mile wide. It consists of one principal well-paved street, nearly a mile long, running north and south, lined with good modern brick houses, and some of the smaller streets opening into this on the west side. The houses on the east side of the High-street have gardens at the back sloping down the face of the cliff towards the sea. Buildings have accumulated at the bottom of the cliff on the beach, where the curing-houses for herrings and a rope-walk are situated.

The parish church is large and handsome church of perpendicular architecture, situated nearly half a mile west of the town. The length of the whole building is 182 feet, the breadth 57 feet, the height 43 feet ; it has a tower and a spire 120 feet high, 50 feet of which belongs to the spire. The windows are large and fine, and the east-end of the church has some chequer-work of flint and stone. There are in the church an ancient font and a number of monuments, including those of Thomas Scroope, bishop of Dromore, who died here in 1491, of admirals Sir John Ashby and James Mighells, of Potter, the translator of Aeschylus and Sophocles, and of several others. There is a chapel-of-ease in the town ; and there are places of worship for Baptists, Independents, and Methodists.

There are a town-hall or chamber over the market or ‘corn-cross’, a theatre, and near the south end of the town a bathing house. On the cliff is the upper lighthouse, and on the beach are a battery at the south end of the town, and the lower lighthouse. Off the shore are the North and the South roads, sheltered to sea-ward by he Corrton and Newcome sands. The upper lighthouse is of brick and stone, with a cylindrical revolving lantern furnished with powerful reflectors ; the lower lighthouse is of timber.

South of the town is the cut communicating between lake Lothing and the sea, forming part of the line of the Norwich and Lowestoffe navigation. The tide-lock will admit vessels 84 feet long and 21 feet in the beam. The principal branch of industry at Lowestoffe is the fishery, which occupies about 200 men. Great quantities of mackerel and soles are caught, and sent to the London and Norwich markets ; and a great quantity of herrings are taken and cured. There are rope and twine manufactories. The market is on Wednesday, and there are two yearly fairs. Lowestoffe is also frequented as a bathing-place.

The living is a vicarage in the rural deanery of Lothingland, in the archdeaconry of Suffolk, and the diocese of Norwich, of the clear yearly value of £323, with a glebe-house.

There were in the parish in 1833, an infant-school, with 100 children of both sexes ; fourteen day-schools of all kinds (two of them endowed, and one partly supported by subscription), with 425 children, namely 186 boys, 123 girls, and 116 young children of sex not stated ; and two Sunday-schools, with 205 children, namely 120 boys and 85 girls. There is a lending library in the parish.