Great British boltholes: Inside The Ship in Dunwich, Suffolk

Magical moments and a splash of mystery: Inside the cosy coastal pub with rooms that lies near the ‘British Atlantis’

  • The Ship in Dunwich, Suffolk, is a pub with a long history – it harks right back to the Middle Ages
  • Lizzie Enfield checks in and finds the ‘comfortable’ bedrooms come with a decanter of complimentary port
  • She makes a delicious discovery at dinner in the form of Aldeburgh vintage marmalade ice cream 

The Ship harks back to the Middle Ages, when Dunwich was a thriving port.

At the time the Suffolk village was the size of London’s square mile, a hub built on fishing, trade and religious patronage.

Over the past 700 years, most of this mini metropolis was gradually lost to the sea, but thankfully not all – and where once the daily market was its beating heart, now it’s The Ship, with a cosy bar, welcoming wood-burner and draught Adnams beers brewed just up the coast in Southwold.

Shipshape: Lizzie Enfield was a fan of the ‘sea-sidey’ food served in The Ship’s spacious restaurant (pictured)

Lizzie slept soundly in her bedroom, which had crisp white bedding and delicately patterned cushions. Pictured is one of the rooms 

Food is sea-sidey, seasonal and served in a restaurant with ocean-blue walls. We start with terrine of Suffolk ham hock and moules mariniere, followed by Norfolk chicken and fried sea bream. It’s all washed down with an aptly named Sea Change chardonnay and finished with Aldeburgh vintage marmalade ice cream – a surprisingly delicious discovery.

No lunch reservations are taken in the summer months, but staff say they’ll find guests a spot in the restaurant or pretty field garden with its alfresco bar servicing pints of ale – or prawns – and salt and pepper squid with sweet chilli.

We took our breakfast of kippers and smashed avocado on sourdough in the conservatory, spied from the bar through an old porthole.

Where once Dunwich attracted kings, seafarers and pilgrims – it is part of an ancient pilgrimage route that’s said to have been travelled by St Edmund, the original patron saint of England – now its 16 comfortable double bedrooms (with potential for twin and family rooms) bring weekenders and holidaymakers.

Dogs are welcome in all rooms, too.

The walls and wooden furniture are painted in earthy neutral tones, complementing the wrought-iron bed frames with crisp white bedding and delicately patterned cushions.

Alfresco affair: Guests can enjoy pints of ale and salt and pepper squid with sweet chilli at the pub’s Field Bar, above, in the summer months

The Ship is located in Dunwich, which boasts the clifftop ruins of medieval Greyfriars monastery (pictured) and a museum that charts the history of the port


The Ship, Dunwich, Suffolk. B&B from £125 per night for a double room (

Some of the en suites have roll-top baths, others have spacious walk-in showers, and all have complimentary British-made Bramley toiletries.

The details nod to the location, with pebbles from the beach piled high in fireplace grates and a decanter of complimentary port on the mantelpiece. All the rooms are named after buildings from Dunwich’s medieval heyday. Ours, The Guildhall, looked out across the marshes to the sea, enticing us out along the Suffolk Coast Path.

From Dunwich you can walk south to Aldeburgh, north to Walberswick and Southwold or inland to Dunwich Heath and the RSPB reserve at Minsmere.

Dunwich itself boasts the clifftop ruins of medieval Greyfriars monastery and a museum that charts the history of the port, its demise and its recent rediscovery.

For years, tales circulated that the village’s lost buildings remained beneath the sea – a British Atlantis. And recently scientists found the remains of two monasteries and several churches on the seabed, exactly as storytellers claimed.

In The Ship’s bar, the story goes that at certain times you can hear church bells ringing beneath the waves.

But whether we had walked too far, drunk too much or simply succumbed to the comfort of our surroundings, we slept soundly, hearing only the occasional cry of a gull or creak of Tudor timbered floorboard. 

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