Harwich is primarily known for its ferry links to the Continent and it is a key embarkation point for those travelling across the North Sea to Holland or joining cruises at Harwich International Port. It is, however, worthy of a visit in itself as the historic old seaport, only a five minute drive beyond the ferry terminal, is regarded as Essex’s hidden jewel.
The winding streets and intersecting lanes, built on the medieval grid pattern, retain hundreds of listed buildings and sites of key historic significance and a stroll around quickly reveals its centuries old charm and atmosphere.
Whether you wish to enjoy a drink in one of the ancient taverns, some dating from Elizabethan times, or relax over a meal as large liners and tiny fishing boats pass by, there is something for everyone in Historic Harwich. A 17th century wheel crane still stands on Harwich Green and two 18th century lighthouses contain museums. A remarkable Napoleonic fort is built into the hill overlooking the town and commands magnificent views over Harwich Harbour and out into the North Sea.
Home to Christopher Jones, the master of the Mayflower which carried the Pilgrim Fathers to the New World in 1620 and Christopher Newport who founded Jamestown Virginia, Harwich has links with Drake, Nelson and Samuel Pepys who was one of the town’s two MPs, as well as having been visited by Henry VIII, Elizabeth I and Charles II during its 800 year history.
Only a few minutes away is the seaside resort of Dovercourt Bay which boasts a European Blue Flag beach and is set in a large, sweeping bay offering safe bathing and sailing.
In between is Dovercourt Town Centre which offers a range of shops, cafes and restaurants in a charming Victorian setting.
Five minutes further on and you may stand on Dovercourt Green which was the location of a settlement recorded in the Doomsday Book and which is the setting for All Saints Church in whose graveyard is the final resting place of Captain Charles Fryatt, the master of the SS Brussels which attempted to ram a German U Boat during World War I, an act for which Captain Fryatt was arrested and executed by firing squad. At the end of World War I only three sets of remains were repatriated to the UK and these were the Unknown Soldier who lies in Westminster Abbey, Nurse Edith Cavell who lies in Norwich Cathedral and Captain Charles Fryatt who lies in the graveyard of Dovercourt’s All Saints Church.
All of this is within a 5 minute drive of Harwich International Port proving that there is far more to Harwich and Dovercourt than the starting point of a continental journey.