Harwich Town

Harwich Museums and historical sites

Little Large Lighthouse Harwich has a rich history with numerous websites of interest, most of which are centred on Old Harwich. The Harwich Society has four primary historical sites that are open to the public every day from 10am to 5pm between 1 Might and 31 August.

(1) The Redoubt

The Redoubt was built in between 1808 and 1810 to safeguard the port of Harwich against the threat of Napoleonic invasion. It was part with the scheme that included the construction of 29 Martello Towers on the East Anglian coast. The Redoubt is of circular shape, approximately 200ft in diameter, having a central parade ground of 85ft diameter. Hoists had been utilized to lift shells from the lower level towards the gun emplacements. It’s similar in design to earlier redoubts at Dymchurch and Eastbourne.

(2) The Maritime Museum

Superb nautical displays housed in a decommissioned lighthouse with excellent views over the harbour and its unending shipping movements. The lighthouse that previously occupied this website was painted by John Constable, possibly about 1800. The present lighthouse was built, along with the high lighthouse a couple of hundred yards away, in 1818.


(three) The Lifeboat Museum

Housed in a Victorian lifeboat-house of 1876 and containing a comprehensive history of Harwich lifeboats. Take the chance to go on board a 37ft (12m) lifeboat which saw service from 1968 until 1988.

Penny Pier Harwich(4) Ha’penny Pier Visitor Centre

The Ha’penny Pier Visitor Centre in Old Harwich has up-to-the-minute information on what to see, where to eat and where to stay in Harwich. This wonderfully refurbished Victorian pier ticket workplace contains a small exhibition of nearby history and provides a free information service on what to see, where to eat and where to remain in Harwich. The Ha’penny Pier now boasts a Mayflower exhibition, which is a must for anyone thinking about history.

Harwich Harbour with typical collection of boats (Felixtow docks in background)

Harwich & Dovercourt

Harwich is a town in Essex, England and one with the Haven ports, located on the coast using the North Sea to the east. It’s in the Tendring district. Nearby places include Felixstowe towards the northeast, Ipswich to the northwest, Colchester towards the southwest and Clacton-on-Sea to the south. It’s the northernmost coastal town within Essex. Its position on the estuaries with the Stour and Orwell rivers and its usefulness to mariners as the only safe anchorage in between the Thames and Humber led to a long period of maritime significance, both civil and military. The town became a naval base in 1657 and was heavily fortified, with Harwich Redoubt, Beacon Hill Battery, and Bath Side Battery. Harwich today is contiguous with Dovercourt and the two, together with Parkeston, are often referred to collectively as Harwich. Harwich seems only to have appeared on the scene about 1150, but it quickly became a thriving port with, evidence suggests, a certain urgency about the place. Harwich’s importance as a port is a result of its location; protruding out as it does into the estuary with the rivers Orwell and Stour, it commands the only safe anchourage in between the Thames and the Humber. The town received its charter in 1238, although there is evidence of earlier settlement – for example, a record of a chapel in 1177, and some indications of a possible Roman presence. An 1804 chart of Harwich from a survey by Graeme Spence Because of its strategic position, Harwich was the target for the invasion of Britain by William of Orange on November 11, 1688. However, unfavourable winds forced his fleet to sail instead into the English Channel and eventually land at Torbay. Due to the involvement with the Schomberg family in the invasion, they had been made Marquesses with the town. Dovercourt is actually older than Harwich. Archeological evidence stretches from prehistory through the Roman occupation and on almost continuously towards the modern day. Dovercourt was essentially a little farming community, until new building began to expand the town in the middle of the nineteenth century.

Walk by the North Sea, The Lifeboat Museum. Felixstow in the background

Notable inhabitants

Foresters OLd House Harwich Harwich was the home town of Christopher Jones, the master and quarter-owner with the Mayflower, and was also a base for that ship. The famous diarist Samuel Pepys was the Member of Parliament for Harwich. Christopher Newport, captain with the expedition that founded Jamestown, Virginia, also hailed from Harwich. Captain Charles Fryatt lived in Harwich; his body was brought back from Belgium in 1919 and he was buried at Dovercourt.

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