In an area shrouded in as much history as the Suffolk coast, if anywhere wants to stand out it must have a great story to tell, and Dunwich certainly has an unusual story.
Dunwich, known as England’s Lost City, has an amazing and interesting history.
Situated on the Suffolk coast and surrounded by much beauty, it is hailed by some as Suffolk’s answer to Atlantis.
Dunwich was once a thriving medieval port and, surprisingly, was on par with London as the capital of the kingdom of East Anglia, with over 3,000 inhabitants recorded as living there in 1086.
Unfortunately, the impact of storm surges and the resulting coastal erosion washed away much of the port’s buildings and land, meaning it became much smaller and less important over the years.
The search was supplemented with sonar devices to map the streets and underwater buildings of Dunwich’s past.
Professor David Sear, from the University of Southampton, said Dunwich was hit by huge storms every year.
Professor Sear told the BBC “We use sound to create a video image of the seabed and the reason we do that is because when you dive in Dunwich it’s dark.
“We found the ruins of about four churches and we also found the ruins of what we believe to be a toll house.
“But we also found wrecks for example, and we found some with this Touching the Tide project, that nobody knew about before.”
Many locals claim that during storms you can hear lost church bells ringing beneath the waves.
The macabre folklore, “The Dark Heart of Dunwich”, tells the story of a heartbroken local girl who haunts the beach surroundings in search of her lost love.
Dr Francis Young, one of East Anglia’s foremost experts on history and folklore, told the East Anglia Daily Times : “The Domesday Book of 1086 records a population of 3,000, and it probably peaked at around 6,000 in the 12th century. By comparison, Bury St Edmunds had only reached 6,000 in the 18th century.
“The city would have had everything that a great port has to offer: the fishing, the merchants’ warehouses, the shipbuilders, the people who turned the ships – A place of this size would have had it all.
“The flood meant that the commercial impetus behind the town was gone, but the destruction of Dunwich was gradual, not overnight.”
Today people can explore the village’s expanse of forest, moorland and beach at the National Trust Dunwich Heath.
Visitors can also learn about the area’s fascinating past at the Dunwich Museum which tells more about the area’s history.
Knowledgeable staff are on hand at every turn to explain more about the underwater city.
The museum spans from the first millennium to the present day.
A detailed model shows what Dunwich looked like at the height of its powers in the 13th century, and the many exhibits span the Roman, Saxon, Medieval, Elizabethan, Jacobean Georgian and Victorian periods.
Locals and visitors alike can even sample some of the best food on the Suffolk coast at award-winning coastal and countryside pubs and inns – it might be a small place, but it sure is mighty.