The Southwold Sailors’ Reading Room was built in 1864 as a refuge for fishermen and mariners when not engaged at sea, as an endeavour to keep them out of the pubs and encourage them in Christian ideals. It was built in memory of a Sea Captain, Charles Rayley RN who was Church Warden at one time and generally a well respected man. He married twice and after he died in 1863 his widow had the Sailors’ Reading Room built in order to provide somewhere for fishermen and mariners to go to other than the pubs, somewhere they could read things that were good for the soul and drink drink that wasn’t going to be harmful to them and their families.
Displays of a seafaring nature line the walls and fill glass cabinets. Pictures and portraits of local fishermen and seascapes, model ships and maritime paraphernalia offer a fascinating history of Southwold’s connections with the sea.