Walberswick is a village on the Suffolk coast, across the River Blyth from Southwold. Coastal erosion and the shifting of the mouth of the River Blyth meant that the neighbouring town of Dunwich was lost as a port in the last years of the 13th century. Following a brief period of rivalry and dispute with Dunwich, Walberswick became a major trading port from the 13th century until World War I. The British Open Crabbing Championship is held yearly to raise funds for charities. Almost half of the properties in the village are holiday homes.

The name Walberswick is believed to derive from the Saxon Waldbert – probably a landowner – and “wyc” meaning shelter or harbour. At the top of the village is the 15th century St. Andrews Church. The size of the St. Andrews ruins demonstrate how large the parish once was.

With over a thousand acres (4 km²) of heath and marshland protected within the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Walberswick has good varied local habitats for birds. The village and surrounding beach and marshland have long attracted residents drawn from the arts, film and media. In the 1890's and 1900's the village became associated with Philip Wilson Steer and his circle of English Impressionists. It was home to the noted artist and architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh from 1914. It was also the birthplace of Oscar nominated documentary film maker Humphrey Jennings famous for his World War II documentaries.

The World War Two defences constructed around Walberswick have been documented. They included a number of pillboxes, landmines and flame fougasse installations. The beaches were protected with extensive barriers of scaffolding. [Foot, 2006, p105.]

The ornate metalwork sign to the village was erected in 1953 in commemoration of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

Considering its size, an inordinate number of British celebrities own holiday homes in the village including Sir Clement Freud and his wife Jill, and their daughter, Emma Freud and her husband Richard Curtis. Martin Bell, Geoffrey Palmer, maintain properties here while Paul Heiney and Libby Purves live nearby. The village is the setting for Esther Freud's novel, "The Sea House", thinly disguised as 'Steerborough' - presumably a coded reference, or in-joke, towards one-time resident, Philip Wilson Steer (see above). Esther Freud is the cousin of Emma Freud and the niece of Sir Clement Freud has a house in nearby Southwold.

The village is famous for its annual crabbing competition - The British Open Crabbing Championship, held every August. The person who catches the single heaviest crab within a period of 90 minutes is declared the winner. The proceeds go towards strengthening Walberswick's sea defences.


Walberswick had a railway station on the Southwold Railway but the line and station closed on April 11th 1929.



General references

*cite book
last = Foot
first = William
title = Beaches, fields, streets, and hills ... the anti-invasion landscapes of England, 1940
publisher = Council for British Archaeology
year = 2006
isbn = 1-902771-53-2

External links

* [http://www.walberswick.ws/index.php Walberswick.ws]

* British Open Crabbing Championship [http://www.walberswick.ws/crabbing/]

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