Dunwich once enjoyed the distinction of being the capital of East Anglia, a place of such importance that it was second only to London. In the time of Henry II it had 52 churches, the last of which, St Andrews, tumbled into the sea in 1919.
In spite of its importance Dunwich was unable to resist the sea and in 1287 and 1328 two fearful storms took away major parts of the town. Since then it has been in steady decline and during the 17th and 18th centuries whole streets would disappear overnight to the sea.
So now Dunwich is a tiny coastal village with only tantalising hints of its great past still to be seen. The folk lore is incredible to the point of the bizarre. Well, would you care to meet Black Shuck, the red-eyed, spectral hound on your way home late one night? But somehow The Ship has managed to survive - why is it that the pub nearly always hangs on in these circumstances? No prizes. And it has about it more than a hint of the smugglers who undoubtedly found its proximity to the sea of great benefit.
Surrounded by an exterior of those rose red bricks that distinguish many an East Anglian building, The Ship's interior is everything you could want, with comfortably furnished rooms in traditional style offering views across the marshes to the ever murmuring sea. Come in to sit in front of the fire and you'll most likely have to share the space with one or two blissfully dozing canine friends, and there's a refreshing disregard to any talk of dress codes.
Upstairs 15 converted bedrooms offer good old fashioned iron bedsteads, fully sprung mattresses and feather pillows and duvets. There are no phones in the rooms, but the mobile signal seems okay. Frankly, who cares? The toiletries are supplied by Pecksniff, and no, are not named after a local smuggler.
And onto the main reason that most folks now pay a visit to The Ship Inn at Dunwich - hearty meals and real ales. Colin, the chef, who has been at The Ship nigh on 20 years, has ensured that it has become renowned for its fish and chips, his prowess naturally extends to other great traditional staples, which could include steak and ale pie - Adnam's is just up the road - lamb, pea and mint casserole, bread and butter pudding and chocolate roly poly.
There's a choice of places to eat: the dining room, the conservatory, the rustic bar or the spacious garden. In the evening the dining room comes into its own, with no nonsense scrubbed pine tables, sisal matting and a welcoming log burner.
Talking of Adnams, scrupulous care is paid to the keeping of a fine selection of draught beers, both guest and resident, with a sensibly priced wine list to complement Colin's menu.
Vincent Crumb, writing in the Sunday Times said, "More than anywhere, Dunwich embodies the elusive beauty of the Suffolk coast". He might have added that this beauty is much enhanced by the inns that are so moulded into that elusive beauty they appear to be part of it - as indeed The Ship at Dunwich is, but then you can find out from their Website