14th January, 1328

14/01/2019 all-day

A huge storm devastated the port of Dunwich. The Suffolk town had been among the foremost in the country until a long process of erosion, punctuated by dramatic storms and flooding, wiped it out.

In the winter of 1328 ferocious winds whipped up the sea. In subsequent flooding about 400 houses were destroyed and the market place inundated. The harbour was blocked and coastal trade switched to nearby Walberswick. It was a far cry from the days, less than a century earlier, when Dunwich proudly launched 80 ships to go to war with the French.

After 1328 people began to abandon Dunwich. The form of erosion known as longshore drift had an irreversible effect, and churches and houses were washed away over subsequent centuries. The Franciscan Greyfriars monastery was rebuilt further inland, but today the cliffs are just feet away from the surviving ruins.

Despite having just eight inhabitants the historic borough of Dunwich returned two Members of Parliament until it was abolished in the 1832 Reform Act.