HISTORY OF THE LOWESTOFT SCORES
The Lowestoft Scores run from east to west, stretching along the cliff edge of the High Street and leading down to Whapload Road. Today, eleven Scores remain. From north to south, they are:
The bridge which crosses the Ravine was gifted to the town by William Youngman, first Mayor of Lowestoft, to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria’s reign in 1887. The bridge links North Parade and Belle Vue Park.
Once known as Gallows Score, its present name is likely to relate to the score once being at the southern end of a cart track which connected the High Street to a watermill in Gunton. At the entrance to Belle Vue Park are the ‘Beacon Stones’, the remains of a beacon built in 1550 as a measure against coastal incursions by foreign powers. There is a tradition that, unless bathed in fire, the stones leap up when they hear the chimes of midnight and dash down the score to bathe in the sea. They are also known as ‘The Witches Stones’, reputedly getting the name from Amy Denny, who would sit on the stones and curse passers-by, and was hanged as a witch in 1662.
The present lighthouse at the top of this score is 123 feet above sea level, and its light can be seen 17 miles out to sea. It was opened on 16th February 1874 and was manually operated until the 1990s, when it became automated and closed to the public. Local records show that this score, 98 yards in length, was laid out in 1806. A row of cottages once stood at the foot of this score, and a local tale tells of one resident named ‘Happy Welham’. On summer days he sold ‘Happy's Home Made Drink’, a wine of dubious vintage, and charged tuppence to see an unexploded German naval shell that had landed in the score in 1916.
Originally named Cross Score after the medieval Corn Cross which marked the trading-area for grain near the Town Chapel - now the site of the Town Hall. Later it became Swan Score, named after The Swan Inn that was located on the south-western corner facing High Street. Oliver Cromwell was accommodated here when he came to Lowestoft in March 1643. The present name is probably derived from the old Mariners Inn that stood opposite in Mariners Street. In 1628 the town’s first cliff-top lighthouse was erected close by on land immediately to the north of the Score.
Formerly known as Lion Score after The Lion Inn that stood on the corner of this score in the 17th century. Earlier records refer to this score as George Rugge’s Score, named after a man who lived in a house at the top of the score in the 1590s. Rugge often appeared before the local court for verbally abusing fellow townsfolk. The score, which contains 48 steps and is flanked by traditional brick and pebble walls, takes its name from the Crown Hotel standing opposite on High Street. There has been an inn of that name on the site since the 16th century.
This score was not listed in town records until after 1720. It was first known as the Common Score, and up until 1850 was also known as Gowing’s Score. A small post can be found against a wall on the south side of Martin’s Score. Originally placed in 1688, and renewed every hundred years since, it bears the initials 'TM' and is known as the Armada Post. Famously considered to commemorate one Thomas Meldrum who aided in the victory against the Spanish Armada, it actually marks the boundary for Thomas Mighell’s property, who lived at the head of the score.
In March 1643, Oliver Cromwell and six Troops of Horse arrested a dozen Royalist sympathisers (including the local vicar) at this score. His prisoners were incarcerated at Windsor Castle. The Roundheads also captured two cannon from the town, along with arms and ammunition. On 14th January 1737 King George II was driven up this score after he was forced to land on the North Beach due to rough seas. He stayed at the home of a Mr. Jex at 45 High Street before continuing his journey to London. The name of the score comes from the Rant family who in the 17th century owned much of the property immediately to the south of the score.
Named after the Wilde family. In 1586 William Wilde built the old Flint House. John Wilde, a descendant, left in trust money for the building of a school-house for the free education of boys from fishing families. A school remained here until the Second World War, when the pupils were evacuated. It was then used by the Air Training Corps and was later bombed. Part of the old school still stands, which the Lowestoft Civic Society has converted into a Heritage Centre. The bottom of the score was blocked and the cottages demolished to allow for the development of Birds Eye. The score now turns right into Cumberland Place and then winds down to Whapload Road.
Formerly known as Garden Score, as it skirted a large walled garden. According to local tradition, its abrupt turnings were designed as a trap to waylay and rob local seamen returning to their ships. The present name derives from the fact that, in the 18th century, there was a large malthouse immediately to the north. Later, in Victorian times, there was popular public house at its western end called The Jolly Maltsters.
The lower part of this score is flanked by a crinkle-crankle wall, unusual structures which are primarily found in Suffolk. In the 20th century the eastern end was blocked, and the right of way diverted into Spurgeon’s Score.
This score is not listed on a survey of 1720, indicating that it was built after this date. The steps leading to the lower roadway were possibly constructed when the row of six cottages on the south side was erected. The cottages on the north side were built in the late 19th century. Spurgeon’s Score is the only score to still have cottages opening onto it. In 1901, this score was home to 91 people. According to local tradition, during the 19th century one of these small cottages was home to the Woodrow family, with their 23 children.
Herring Fishery Score
Herring Fishery Score has been known by various names. In the late 16th century it was called Barringforth’s Score and later Spendlove’s Score, Porter’s Score and Nelson Score. The present name is taken from the former name of The Wheatsheaf pub which stands here. At the foot of the score is Christchurch, the most easterly parish church in the British Isles. It was erected in 1869 to serve the residents of the Beach Village which once stood below the cliff here. The old school room at the bottom of the score was once used as a navigation school, part of Lowestoft Technical Institute.