Over 100 years ago, the vicar of St Edmund’s church proposed the building of a hospital in Southwold to serve the people of this remote rural area at a time when the average life span of working men and women was 25 and children were lucky to survive their fifth birthday. Farmland on Field Stile road, opposite St Edmund’s Church, was purchased; a local architect was commissioned to design the building; and, on a day in 1903 commemorated by a marching band and a special church service, the Bishop of Ipswich opened the hospital. Thereafter, the Southwold Hospital expanded and grew serving parishes throughout the Borough.
All of the monies needed to build and maintain Southwold Hospital were raised by the community – through fetes, bazars, entertainments, collecting boxes, subscriptions, donations, from employees of local firms etc. One document records that in one year only monies were received from 450 subscribers and donators. Even after the NHS nationalised the hospital in 1948, the community continued to provide the money to build new wards and provide up to date equipment.
The NHS closed Southwold in November 2015. This was a sad day for the community. However, we can all take pride in the fact that for over a century the community enabled Southwold Hospital to provide exemplary care.
To learn more about how the community raised the money, read the evidence given by Bob Jellicoe, a local historian, to oppose the NHS’s appeal of the hospital’s designation as an Asset of Community Value.