Cycling into Dunwich
A visit to a tiny coastal village
(Photos/words © urban75, May 2007)
Once one of the largest ports in eastern England, boasting a population of up to 4,000 souls, eight churches, three chapels and two hospitals, almost all of Dunwich has since disappeared into the sea.
Once noted for its wool and grain exports, with imported goods including fish, furs and timber from Iceland and the Baltic region, cloth from Holland and wine from France, the port has long since vanished.
Calamity first struck in 1286 when a fearsome storm swept much of the town into the sea, leaving the Dunwich River partly silted up.
Despite the continuous efforts of residents to save the harbour and clear the silt, the whole caboodle was completely destroyed by another fierce storm in 1328, which also saw the entire village of Newton (a few miles up the coast) swept away.
More was to come in 1347, when some 400 houses crashed into the sea, with long-shore drift erosion seeing off the remainder of the city over the following three hundred years.
The last standing church, All Saints, fell into the sea between 1904 and 1919, with the last major portion of the tower vanishing under the waves in November, 1919.
The remaining small pocket of buildings that now make up Dunwich village would have stood a mile inland in medieval times.
Although not much happens in the sleepy village these days, Dunwich comes to life once a year with the arrival of the semi-official annual Dunwich Dynamo bicycle ride, which rides through the night from Hackney in London in July.
Two distant walkers heading for Dunwich.
Watch out for frogs!
The route into Dunwich was fabulous for cycling, and our folding bikes stood up to some of the rough tracks perfectly!
Bluebells in the forest.
Bright yellow gorse.
A rather attractive pile of sticks.
On the road into Dunwich.
The last church in Dunwich, St James, built in 1830.
» Dunwich St James feature
This is just about all that's left of the town of Dunwich. The Ship Inn is closest to the camera.
Inside the small two-storey museum.
Looking out to sea.
Coastal erosion is still taking place - this hut doesn't look too long for this world!
Looking north along the shingle beach.
A couple watching the waves.
End of the road. The cafe is to the left.
Enjoying tea and scones in the modern and surprisingly large cafe on Dunwich beach.
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