Visit Britain's Atlantis At This Eerie UK Coastal Village

Britain is one of the most haunted nations in the world, and each of its historic counties and shires is rich in legends and lore. Suffolk in the east of England is no different. In Orford, a merman was once captured by fishermen and held captive in the castle for six months; further inland at Woolpit, two children with green skin were discovered, said to have come from a mysterious land beneath the earth. To this day, the ghost dog Black Shuck pads along the lonely lanes, and on a stormy night, you can stand on the cliffs of Dunwich and hear the bells of a lost city's churches tolling beneath the waves.

Dunwich is a sleepy village with a population of around 200 people, but once it was a thriving seaport and the capital of the Kingdom of East Anglia, equal in importance to London. That all changed in the 13th and 14th centuries when fierce storms washed away the city and clogged the harbor. Recent archaeological surveys beneath the muddy water have revealed ruins the size of the City of London that 5,000 folks once called home, earning it a reputation as Britain's Atlantis. Nowadays, there is little left of Dunwich to indicate its former glories other than a few haunting reminders of the past, making the village a perfect spot for an eerie and atmospheric day by the coast.

Things to see in Dunwich

One of the most appealing aspects of Dunwich is its feeling of isolation. Although it is just over 100 miles from London, the village is surrounded by marshes, woodland, heaths, bird sanctuaries, and nature reserves, giving it a sense that it is cut off from the rest of the world. It's a beautiful part of the country, and all roads lead to two invigorating walks: one along the stretch of shingle beach, which is rarely busy save for a few amblers and anglers. Then, there's a coastal path along the crumbling clifftops towards Dunwich Heath and RSPB Minsmere beyond. To add to the peculiar atmosphere, the brute bulk of the Sizewell B nuclear power station to the south lends an otherworldly contrast to the wild and windy shoreline.

The village itself has several poignant reminders of the past. The tiny Dunwich Museum charts the history of the lost city. Nearby are the ruins of Greyfriars, once a significant friary established by Franciscan monks after their former home was destroyed by the great storm of 1286. Close to the cliff's edge is the resting place of Jacob Forster, the last surviving headstone from the graveyard of All Saints church, which succumbed to the encroaching sea in the early 20th Century. The only thing that remains of All Saints is part of a buttress that now resides safely on the grounds of the new St. James Church.

Dunwich is also good for eating and drinking

With its easy access to the beach, coastal paths, and areas of natural beauty, Dunwich is a wonderful place for a bracing stroll. And what can be better at the end of a great walk than rewarding yourself with a nice bite to eat? Dunwich only has one pub, but luckily it is a very good one with excellent accommodation available. 

The Ship is a cozy traditional inn that has won numerous accolades, was named one of the best dog-friendly hotels in the U.K., and was listed in the Sunday Times' Best Places to Stay in 2020. The restaurant's menu emphasizes locally sourced produce, from delicious sausages to line-caught fish and freshly dressed crab. It's top-notch pub grub, which goes down well with a pint of local ale.

There are two other main places for refreshments. Further down the coast at Dunwich Heath is the Coastguard Cottages Tearoom, a simple but welcoming café that sells snacks and hot and cold drinks. Better still is the family-run Flora Tea Rooms by the beach car park in the village, which has provided people with an extra excuse to visit Dunwich for over 30 years with its famous fish and chips. The bright and friendly restaurant is only open seasonally. Still, in the summer, it is popular with coach tours, serves afternoon tea ice cream, and has a quaint little gift shop selling souvenirs and works by local artists.