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Dunwich, Suffolk

Historical Description

Dunwich, a decayed ancient citie and borough, and a parish in Suffolk. It stands on the coast, 5½ miles E of Darsham station on the G.E.R., and 4¼ SSW of Southwold. It is supposed to have been a seat of the Britons, or a Roman station, and it has yielded Roman coins and urns. It was known to the Saxons as Domoc or Dunmock, and during the Heptarchy was the metropolis of East Anglia. It became the seat of a diocese in 630 (Felix of Burgundy, first bishop, was brought over by King Sebert), and, after a division of that diocese in 673, it continued to be the seat of the bishops of Suffolk till they removed to Thetford in 955. It belonged at Domesday to the Malets, and it had then three churches and a royal forest. It was made a mint town by Henry II.; received a charter from John; paid under Richard I., for supplying the king's enemies with corn, a fine of 6000 merks, while Ipswich paid only 200; contributed to the navy of Edward I. eleven ships of war; and possessed at the same time 16 good, ships, 20 barks, and 24 boats for its own home trade. It also had two palaces-the king's and the bishop's-several churches and chapels, a Knights Templars' preceptory, a Black friary, a Grey friary, a Maison Dieu, a lepers' hospital, and a number of other religious foundations. It likewise had a weekly market, a market cross, and a jail, and it sent two members to Parliament from the time of Edward I. till disfranchised by the Act of 1832. But it is now a small village, without anyprospect of becoming again a town, and its corporation was abolished in 1866. It lost part of its prosperity by the opening of a port at Blythburgh, but it owed its main decay to the destruction of its harbour and its streets by the encroachments of the sea. Its site was an eminence composed of loose sand and loam, and both a part of that site and parts of the adjacent coast for several miles to the east have sunk beneath the waves. The present parish church is a structure of 1830 in good modern Gothic, in lieu of a previous ruined church. Day the printer was a native of the town, and tho Earl of Stradbroke takes from it the title of viscount. The parish comprises 1193 acres; population, 213. It has a poat and money order office, under Saxmundham; telegraph office, Darsham. Dunwich Bank lies about 1 mile from the shore, is about 2 miles long, and has from 3 to 4 fathoms of water. There is a coastguard station here, and also a lifeboat. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Norwich; net yearly value, s£44. Grey Friars is a chief residence.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountySuffolk 
Ecclesiastical parishDunwich All Saints 
Poor Law unionBlything 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Church Records

Marriages at Dunwich St. Peter, 1549 to 1658 are available online as part of the Suffolk Parish and Probate Records.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Dunwich from the following:

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Suffolk is available to browse.


Online maps of Dunwich are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Suffolk papers online:

DistrictSuffolk Coastal
Postal districtIP17
Post TownSaxmundham