Many centuries ago Dunwich in Suffolk was a large and thriving port town and the capital of the Kingdom of East Anglia, and at its peak had eight churches, two monasteries and even a mint. In the late 13th century three fierce storms and tide surges within a 12-month period destroyed the harbour and washed many properties into the sea; another big storm in 1347 swept about 400 houses into the sea, and by the late 14th century most of the town had been destroyed. Since then, continuing coastal erosion over the centuries, which is still advancing, has contributed to the loss of much of the land and many more buildings including all the churches, and the present-day Dunwich is now just a small coastal village backed by a vast heath and with a large shingle beach. A popular local legend says that at certain tides church bells can still be heard from beneath the waves.
In the village is the Ship Inn, a pub/restaurant with accommodation, and next door to it a small museum which charts the story of the city-town-village through the centuries up to the present day. Just out of the village is Dunwich Greyfriars, a ruined Franciscan priory; at one time this had a large graveyard on the nearby clifftop but constant erosion has ensured that most, if not all, of the graves and their contents have fallen onto the beach and been washed out to see. Take a walk along the beach just below Greyfriars and you may find various bones in the sand at the bottom of the cliff - in fact several years ago I personally found a human skull sticking out of the cliff just a few feet up off the beach.
There is a large free car park next to the shingle beach, and a cafe which serves good fish and chips. Dogs are allowed on the beach and there's a nice coastal path walk which runs for about three miles to the nearby village of Walberswick. Dunwich Heath is home to rabbits and deer (watch out for the adders!) and several species of birds, and from July to September the whole area is a patchwork of yellow gorse and pink and purple heather - well worth a photo or two.