infobox UK place
country = England

official_name= Harwich
latitude= 51.9355
longitude= 1.2625
population = 15500
(Harwich and Dovercourt)
shire_district= Tendring
shire_county = Essex
region= East of England
constituency_westminster= Harwich
post_town= HARWICH
postcode_area= CO
dial_code= 01255
os_grid_reference= TM243313

Harwich (pronEng|ˈhærɪdʒ [ [http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Harwich Harwich - Definition from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary ] ] ) is a town in Essex, England and one of the Haven ports, located on the coast with the North Sea to the east. It is in the Tendring district. Nearby places include Felixstowe to the northeast, Ipswich to the northwest and Colchester to the southwest.

Its position on the estuaries of the Stour and Orwell rivers and its usefulness to mariners as the only safe anchorage 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, along with Parkeston, are often referred to collectively as Harwich.


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.

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 of the Schomberg family in the invasion, they were made Marquesses of the town.

Writer Daniel Defoe devotes a few pages of his "A tour through England and Wales" to the town. Visiting in 1722, he noted its formidable fort and harbour "of a vast extent"Daniel Defoe, "A tour through England and Wales", J.M. Dent and Sons Ltd, London (1959) [http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/text/chap_page.jsp?t_id=Defoe&c_id=3&p_id=44 Available online here] ] . The town, he recounts, was also known for an unusual spring rising on Beacon Hill (a promontory to the north-east of the town), which "petrified" clay, allowing it to be used to pave Harwich's streets and build its walls. The locals also claimed that "the same spring is said to turn wood into iron", but Defoe put this down to the presence of "copperas" in the water. Regarding the atmosphere of the town, he states: "Harwich is a town of hurry and business, not much of gaiety and pleasure; yet the inhabitants seem warm in their nests and some of them are very wealthy".


The Royal Navy is no longer present in Harwich but Harwich International Port at nearby Parkeston continues to offer regular ferry services to the Hook of Holland (Hoek van Holland) in the Netherlands and Esbjerg in Denmark. Many operations of the large container port at Felixstowe and of Trinity House, the lighthouse authority, are managed from Harwich, and plans for the development of a new container port in Bathside Bay were approved by the British government in December 2005.

The town's coastal position, however, made it vulnerable to the North Sea Flood of 1953.


Despite, or perhaps because of, its small size Harwich is highly-regarded in terms of architectural heritage, and the whole of the older part of the town, excluding Navyard Wharf, is a conservation area. [ [http://www.harwich-society.co.uk/old/info_navyard.htm Harwich Society, 2008.] ]

The regular street plan, with principal thoroughfares connected by numerous small alleys, betrays the town’s medieval origins although many buildings of this period are hidden behind 18th century facades.

The extant medieval structures are largely private homes. Notable public buildings, all later, include the parish church of St. Nicholas (1821) in a restrained Gothic style, with many original furnishings including a (somewhat altered) organ of the same date in the west end gallery, and the Guildhall of 1769, the only Grade I listed building in Harwich. [ [http://www.harwich-society.co.uk/old/info_guildhall.htm Harwich Society, 2008.] ]

On the quayside may be seen the Pier Hotel of 1860 and Great Eastern Hotel of 1864 (the latter now divided into apartments), both reflecting the town’s new importance to travellers following the arrival of the railway line from Colchester in 1854.

Also of interest are the High Lighthouse (1818); the unusual Treadwheel Crane (late 17th century); the Electric Palace Cinema (1911), one of the oldest purpose-built cinemas to survive complete with its original projection room and ornamental frontage still intact and operational; the Old Custom Houses on West Street; and a number of Victorian shopfronts. There is little notable building from the later parts of the 20th century, but major recent additions include the lifeboat station and two new structures for Trinity House; that organisation's office building, next door to the Old Custom Houses, was completed in 2005. All three additions are influenced by the high-tech style.

Notable inhabitants

Harwich was the home town of Christopher Jones, the master and quarter-owner of 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 of the expedition that founded Jamestown, Virginia, also hailed from Harwich.


Harwich is home to Harwich & Parkeston F.C., Harwich & Dovercourt Sailing Club, and Harwich, Dovercourt & Parkeston Swimming Club.


See also

* Harwich Redoubt
* Harwich (UK Parliament constituency)



* cite book
author = Pevsner, Nikolaus and Radcliffe, Enid
id = ISBN 0-300-09601-1
publisher = Yale University Press
title = The Buildings of England: Essex
year = 2002

* cite book
author = Smith Stuart Reynolds (consultants) et al
publisher = Tendring District Council
title = [http://www.tendringdc.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/6F032F83-3E6A-4D07-BAC5-D3AACF60B27E/1899/Harwich.pdf “Tendring District Council Conservation Area Review: Harwich Conservation Area”]
year = 2006

External links

* [http://www.harwichtowncouncil.co.uk/ Harwich Town Council]
* [http://www.harwich-society.co.uk/ The Harwich Society]
* [http://www.harwichconnexions.co.uk/ Harwich Tourist Information Centre]
* [http://www.simplonpc.co.uk/Harwich3.html#anchor140376 Harwich Lightships] - Simplon
* [http://www.hict.co.uk/content/home/main.asp Bathside Bay Development] - HICT
* [http://www.hdsc.org.uk Harwich & Dovercourt Sailing Club]

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