The Tramway Hotel, Pakefield by Adrian S Pye, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Pakefield sits on some of Suffolk’s most dramatic coastline, near Lowestoft. This charming village is sufficiently isolated to make for a pleasant weekend getaway, yet close enough to numerous great Suffolk attractions so you can make the most of your stay. Explore the historical richness of St. Margaret’s & All Saints Church, or walk down to the easily accessible beach, where fishing boats are scattered across the golden sands.
An examination of early records reveals that Pacca’s or Pagga’s field (which later became Pakefield) was named after a local landowner. Around 300 people lived in Pakefield at the beginning of the 20th century, in a secluded area south of the busy town of Lowestoft.
Archaeological digs at Pakefield have unearthed evidence of habitations from over 700,000 years ago, which proves that the history of this lovely Suffolk village does not only stretch back to the 19th century. This represents the oldest definite evidence of habitation in the whole of Northern Europe.
Those looking to visit the Suffolk Wildlife Park or the marvellous Marina Theatre, which offers an extensive assortment of entertainment, should make Pakefield their base. For the sports fanatic, Kirkley FC’s stadium is nearby, and Kensington Gardens has some fantastic tennis courts.
The Ancient History of Pakefield
Scientists have discovered stone tools dating back 700,000 years at Pakefield, making them 200,000 years older than previous discoveries. At that time, humans were living in southern Europe, but the exact point at which they moved up north is unknown. The uncovered tools displayed distinct characteristics of human workmanship, as confirmed by the Natural History Museum’s Paleontology Department. This indicates that the tools did not form due to natural erosion but rather were used to cut, scrape, and saw.
Particular sites in Italy and Spain gave us evidence that humans inhabited the areas over 800 000 years ago. Scientists originally hypothesised that humans did not move further north due to the short growing seasons and long winters. However, this theory was disproved when several Pakefield soil samples indicated the climate of that time to have been similar to the modern-day Meditteranean area.
The Forgotten Pakefield Lighthouse
The secret of the old lighthouse in Pakefield is so well-kept that many residents don’t even know of its existence. Navigation between Newcome and Barnard in these waters is hindered by shifting sandbanks.
In 1831, work began on the Pakefield Hall lighthouse, which became quickly obsolescent as the sandbanks and shoreline moved too far south over the next 30 years. The project to restore the lighthouse was finally terminated in 1864.
The structure remained unused for almost seven decades before Pakefield Hall Holiday camp started using it as a bar in the 30s. Pontin’s Holiday centre then started using the lighthouse as a photography darkroom. Volunteers commenced a project to renovate the structure in the year 2000, and today, the lighthouse is a coastal surveillance station.
Old rumours maintain that the Ghost of a fisherman’s wife, Crazy Mary, still roams the lighthouse and walks down Florance Road looking for her husband’s ship every night at precisely 9 pm.
Adrian S Pye / Old lighthouse on Pakefield cliffs / CC BY-SA 2.0
The two semi-detached churches in Pakefield, All Saints and St. Margaret’s church were both mentioned in the 11th century Domesday Book. The churches share the same wall and serve as the first permanent structure ever to be established in Pakefield. The churches consist of near-identical chancels and naves.
The two churches had two respective congregations and rectors from the time of Cromwell until the middle of the 15th century. The majority of the buildings’ splendour was demolished during World War II. Incendiary bombs that were dropped during an air raid burnt the thatched roof and most of the furniture to dust, but the restoration process commenced almost immediately and led to the church being the first in the UK to be rededicated after the devasting war times.
The church of All Saints and St Margaret, Pakefield by Evelyn Simak, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Pakefield provides an excellent starting point for a family vacation thanks to its ambience, history, and wonderful views. It is the perfect spot for a quick getaway or a lengthy family trip.