Southwold Jack – Southwold, England - Atlas Obscura
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Southwold, England

Southwold Jack

Keep a lookout for replicas of this wooden soldier hiding in plain sight all around town. 

The original Southwold Jack is a rare, well-preserved bit of 15th-century woodwork. But if you’re out and about in the town, you’d be forgiven for thinking he’s a common chap, as his doppelgängers are everywhere.

The first Southwold Jack (also named Jack the Smiter) is a 15th-century clock jack that has been repurposed to ring a bell at the magnificent St. Edmund’s Church. The charming wooden figure stands just under 4.5 feet tall. He’s dressed like a soldier from the Wars of the Roses and clutches a sword and a battle axe in his hands. At the start of each church service, or to announce the arrival of a bride at her wedding, he swings his axe and strikes a small bell.

In the early 20th century, the local Adnams brewery decided to adopt Southwold Jack as the trademark for its craft beer. The company installed little replicas of the wooden man on the front of its brewery building, and most Adnams pubs have some form of the logo plastered onto their walls.

The brewery also slapped his image on many of its vehicles. Up until 2006, pictures of the Southwold Jack logo even got to hitch rides on the horse-drawn drays (beer delivering carts) that passed through town en route to the pubs, though those equine attractions are now only brought out for special occasions.

Southwold Jack has become so iconic of this charming little seaside town that models of the figure are often sold as souvenirs. Of these touristy trinkets, a brass door knocker in the form of Southwold Jack has been particularly popular and comes up for sale from time to time on internet auction sites.

Know Before You Go

The church is well worth a visit in its own right. Its external construction is a great example of the local flint "flushwork," and inside is one of the best rood screens in the country and a fantastic ceiling. Under the choir stalls is a very unusual resonating chamber used to magnify the voices of the choir.