Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Southwold, Suffolk

Corner shop

The Resident Wise Woman is a great one for coming home from the shops with bargains, and she is in the habit of including in her bargain baskets a few of what the supermarket is offering in the way of bottled beers. They’re an interesting lot, too, ranging from the products of microbreweries I’ve never heard of to beers from stalwarts such as Shepherd Neame, Martson’s, and Adnams.

When I see a bottle of Adnams I usually think two things – that this is going to be a good glass of beer and that it comes from Southwold, one of Suffolk’s most beautiful towns. And in Southwold is Adnams’ wonderful shop*, which has one of the best 19th-century shopfronts you could wish for. This is, they say, a building of the early-19th century (it originally housed a chemist’s) but the actual frontage, with this glorious semicircular, bay, is from about 1860.†
I am, as regular readers will know, a sucker for buildings that turn a corner memorably and there are few corner shops that do so as memorably as this one. It’s not just the curving window, nor the neat Doric pilasters that frame the doorway, nor even the way that the line of the pavement echoes the curve of the window. It’s also the lettering of the sign – gold, standing out against its red background, with pleasant proportions and pretty good spacing. I can even live with the fact that the comma in ‘Ltd.,’ is rather eccentrically lying on its side and that part of the leg of one of the Rs is broken. It’s all part of the character of this very characterful facade. Cheers!

- - -

* It’s actually Adnams wine shop, and adjoins the Red Lion pub. Adnams also has a newer shop elsewhere in the town. There’s more on Adnams stores here.

† I was first alerted to this shop front by seeing a picture of it in one of the beautiful pocket books that Peter Ashley did for English Heritage some years ago. The book is Local Heroes: Pubs and Inns (2001).


Peter Ashley said...

Thanks Phil for the Pocket Book reference. I was last in this shop three years ago loading up with Broadsides. Of which, the Lord Nelson pub round the corner has it on draught. A perfect evening, sitting looking out to sea with a dark pint of that on the go.

Philip Wilkinson said...

A lovely way to relax. By the way, it strikes me that a lot of Southwold's architecture is designed for just that: looking out to sea (with whatever you fancy in a glass beside you). Those wonderful beach huts of course, and a slew of houses that have balconies, observation turrets, or big bay windows. If one's not in Wales it is just the place to be Nogood Boyo, staring at a pancake-flat sea and murmuring, 'Too rough for fishing today'.

Joe Treasure said...

This is really charming. Suffolk is unexplored territory for me - somewhere I used to drive through on my way to Norfolk. Thanks for introducing me to Southwold.