And so we come to another victim of the erosion which is found in so many places on the south and east coasts of Britain. Dunwich paid the ultimate price for the wear and tear on this portion of coastline, having once been the capital of East Anglia: the harbour and most of the town were claimed by the sea, rendering what was left a shadow of its former self, so that it is now no more than a coastal village. It was a huge storm in 1286 which set the rot in motion, largely due to the fact that the River Blyth was diverted northwards. By 1677 the sea had reached the market place. In 2008, there were reports of a plan to reveal the submerged town, which has come to be known as the UK’s “Atlantis”, using hi-tech underwater cameras.
However, all this does not mean that Dunwich is not worth visiting. The haunting remains of Dunwich’s past are still on display, including the remnants of a leper chapel behind the Church of St James, and the ruins of a 13th-century friary on the clifftop. There is a local legend which suggests that the submerged church bells ring out storm warnings. There is a museum in the village which tells the fascinating history of the area from Roman times onwards. Dunwich Heath, looked after by the National Trust, is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty whose inhabitants include several rare species of bird as well as adders.
Map of the area.