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The Battle of Solebay: The Southwold house at the centre of the conflict

PUBLISHED: 09:53 18 May 2012 | UPDATED: 09:59 18 May 2012

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STEP inside Sutherland House today and you will find a welcoming restaurant and guesthouse.

But more than 300 years ago, the property on Southwold High Street became a focal point of the third Anglo-Dutch war as the temporary headquarters of the Admiralty – providing a home for the Duke of York (King James II) and Admiral Edward Montagu, the 1st Earl of Sandwich.

To mark the visits of these prominent men, the ceilings were ornately decorated with their insignias, including the Stuart fleur de Lys and the rose of the Earl of Sandwich.

These designs remain a key part of the 15th century building’s character, and were recently restored as part of an English Heritage project.

Meanwhile, the Earl’s legacy lives on through a ghostly love story involving a heartbroken servant girl.

It is believed the Earl became embroiled in a love affair with the maid while staying at Sutherland House during the Battle of Solebay. But this romance was to end in despair when his charred body was found washed ashore, leaving her in a state of anguish.

To this day, eerie noises and strange goings on at the house are attributed to the lovelorn maid who, it is said, has been seen looking out of the window waiting for his return.

Andy Wood, general manager at Sutherland House, admits he is a little reticent to tell guests about the ghost story in case it stops them from staying the night.

However, he is proud of the building’s rich history, including the 17th century ceilings, which he claims are just one example of how historical stories can be told through architecture and design.

He said: “There are so many things you can tell people about this building. There is something in every room that tells a story and we make sure to keep so it looks like how it used to be.”

•For a history of the Battle of Solebay, click on the link in the top right hand corner of the page.

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