Harwich: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 51°56′08″N 1°15′45″E / 51.9355°N 1.2625°E / 51.9355; 1.2625

Harwich England.jpg
Harwich is located in Essex

 Harwich shown within Essex
Population 15,500 
(Harwich and Dovercourt)
OS grid reference TM243313
District Tendring
Shire county Essex
Region East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town HARWICH
Postcode district CO12
Dialling code 01255
Police Essex
Fire Essex
Ambulance East of England
EU Parliament East of England
UK Parliament Harwich
List of places: UK • England • Essex

Harwich (pronounced /ˈhærɪdʒ/[1]) 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, Colchester to the southwest and Clacton-on-sea to the south.

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,[2] 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's name means "military settlement," from Old English here-wic.[3]

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.

A chart of Harwich published in 1804 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 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".[4] 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".[4]


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.

The port is famous for the phrase "Harwich for the Continent" seen on road signs and in London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) advertisements.[5][6]


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.[7]

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.[8]

The Harwich Quay

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. Captain Charles Fryatt lived in Harwich; his body was brought back from Belgium in 1919 and he was buried at Dovercourt.


Harwich is home to Harwich and Dovercourt RFC, Harwich & Parkeston F.C., Harwich & Dovercourt Sailing Club, Harwich, Dovercourt & Parkeston Swimming Club and Harwich & Dovercourt Rugby Union Football Club


See also



  • Pevsner, Nikolaus and Radcliffe, Enid (2002). The Buildings of England: Essex. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-09601-1. 

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

There is more than one place called Harwich:


United States of America

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

HARWICH, a municipal borough and seaport in the Harwich parliamentary division of Essex, England, on the extremity of a small peninsula projecting into the estuary of the Stour and Orwell, 70 m. N.E. by E. of London by the Great Eastern railway. Pop. (1901), 10,070. It occupies an elevated situation, and a wide view is obtained from Beacon Hill at the southern end of the esplanade. The church of St Nicholas was built of brick in 1821; and there are a town hall and a custom-house. The harbour is one of the best on the east coast of England, and in stormy weather is largely used for shelter. A breakwater and sea-wall prevent the blocking of the harbour entrance and encroachments of the sea; and there is another breakwater at Landguard Point on the opposite (Suffolk) shore of the estuary. The principal imports are grain and agricultural produce, timber and coal, and the exports cement and fish. Harwich is one of the principal English ports for continental passenger traffic, steamers regularly serving the Hook of Holland, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Antwerp, Esbjerg, Copenhagen and Hamburg. The continental trains of the Great Eastern railway run to Parkeston Quay, r m. from Harwich up the Stour, where the passenger steamers start. The fisheries are important, principally those for shrimps and lobsters. There are cement and shipbuilding works. The port is the headquarters of the Royal Harwich Yacht Club. There are batteries at and opposite Harwich, and modern works on Shotley Point, at the fork of the two estuaries. There are also several of the Martello towers of the Napoleonic era. At Landguard Fort there are important defence works with heavy modern guns commanding the main channel. This has been a point of coast defence since the time of James I. Between the Parkeston Quay and Town railway stations is that of Dovercourt, an adjoining parish and popular watering-place. Harwich is under a mayor, 4 aldermen and 12 councillors. Area, 1541 acres.

Harwich (Herewica, Herewyck) cannot be shown to have been inhabited very early, although in the 18th century remains of a camp, possibly Roman, existed there. Harwich formed part of the manor of Dovercourt. It became a borough in 1319 by a charter of Edward II., which was confirmed in 1342 and 1378, and by each of the Lancastrian kings. The exact nature and degree of its self-government is not clear. Harwich received charters in 1 547, 1 553 and r 560. In 1604 James I. gave it a charter which amounted to a new constitution, and from this charter begins the regular parliamentary representation. Two burgesses had attended parliament in 1343, but none had been summoned since. Until 1867 Harwich returned two members; it then lost one, and in 1885 it was merged in the county. Included in the manor of Dovercourt, Harwich from 1086 was for long held by the de Vere family. In 1252 Henry III. granted to Roger Bigod a market here every Tuesday, and a fair on Ascension day, and eight days after. In 1320 a grant occurs of a Tuesday market, but no fair is mentioned. James I. granted a Friday market, and two fairs, at the feast of St Philip and St James, and on St Luke's day. The fair has died out, but markets are still held on Tuesday and Friday. Harwich has always had a considerable trade; in the 14th century merchants came even from Spain, and there was much trade in wheat and wool with Flanders. But the passenger traffic appears to have been as important at Harwich in the 14th century as it is now. Shipbuilding was a considerable industry at Harwich in the 17th century.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

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Proper noun


  1. A coastal town in Essex, England


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