Once the capital of the Kingdom of the East Angles with an international port as large as London and a population of 3000 Dunwich was a significant, wealthy town with six parish churches.
During the 13th and 14th century Dunwich was punished by storm resulting in the decline of the once prosperous town. Thomas Gardner reports 400 houses, 2 churches, as well as shops and windmills, succumbing to the tempest. The sea was driven against the spit of land, shifting the shingle, effectively blocked off Dunwich harbour. This was devastating for Dunwich as all ships, trade and revenues diverted into Walberswick instead. This lead to a disagreement between the two towns, which went on for nearly a century.
Today, Dunwich is a peaceful, coastal village within The Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The landscape is picturesque, unspoilt with the distinctive ‘Big Suffolk Sky’ and you can indeed walk for miles along the vast pebble beach, beneath the cliffs. Heading north, the cliffs are replaced with sand dunes and beach grass; a footpath through low lying heathland will take you to neighbouring Walberswick. South of Dunwich is RSPB Minsmere.
The fascinating history is a real attraction for visitors, although there is very little to see but the ruins of the Greyfriars monastery, it is rumoured that the beach is haunted and you can hear the church bells from the city lost to the sea.