Hear Dunwich bells ring again on band’s new film

PUBLISHED: 17:49 12 July 2020 | UPDATED: 11:12 13 July 2020

David Stainer, of the folk/rock band The Silburys, on location at Dunwich. Photo: The Silburys

David Stainer, of the folk/rock band The Silburys, on location at Dunwich. Photo: The Silburys

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Suffolk folk/rock band The Silburys have created an atmospheric video about the city beneath the waves as the backdrop to their original song, The Dunwich Bells

The ruins of Greyfriars at Dunwich provide an atmospheric setting for The Silburys' new video. Photo: The SilburysThe ruins of Greyfriars at Dunwich provide an atmospheric setting for The Silburys' new video. Photo: The Silburys

Is there anywhere on the Suffolk coast more intriguing than Dunwich? The atmospheric village could once lay claim to the title ‘capital of Suffolk’ and was certainly one of the most important ports in the country. . . until it was swept into the sea by catastrophic storms in the 13th century.

Medieval homes, businesses, and churches were lost beneath the waves, so it’s little wonder that England’s very own lost city of Atlantis inspires poets, writers, musicians, photographers and film makers, all eager to tell the story in their own special way. Now, Suffolk folk/rock band The Silbury’s have combined original song with moving images in a haunting video called The Dunwich Bells.

The Silburys wrote and featured the song The Dunwich Bells on their Broadside & Mayhem CD and, more recently, on their Live at Springfest album released earlier this year. As band member David Stainer explains, with lock down easing – and keeping social distancing regulations – the band felt it was time to commit the song to film.

No fewer than eight churches were lost to the sea, as coastal erosion reduced Dunwich to the charming coastal village it is today. As you wander the lanes and wonder at the remains of the 13th-century Franciscan priory Greyfriars, and the Leper Hospital of St James, you can soak up the haunting atmosphere.

Band members David Stainer (left) and Scott Dolling. Photo: The SilburysBand members David Stainer (left) and Scott Dolling. Photo: The Silburys

“Legend has it that the bells of the lost churches can still be heard, ringing beneath the North Sea,” says band member David Stainer. “It’s the stuff of legend – and history – and ripe inspiration for song.”

The video was filmed recently on location in Dunwich, he explaines, at “an indecently early hour” to ensure the beach and remains of the 800-year-old friary were deserted.

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Band leader and vocalist Scott Dolling is delighted with the results. “Filmed in black and white it completely captures the atmosphere of the song and of Dunwich itself. Dunwich Bells is always a favourite at our concerts with its pounding beat and the open strings of guitar and mandolin replicating the sound of the ringing bells. Having been unable to play live in recent months, it was a great treat for the band to be together and fun to produce.”

He suggested that the video could make a great backdrop for the song when the band gets back to performing live. In the meantime you can watch it on on the band’s website where you can find out more about the band.

About Dunwich

Dating back to Anglo-Saxon times, Dunwich once stood proud as the capital of the Kingdom of the Eastern Angles, at its mightiest matching 14th century London for size. It was a seat of power for the Anglo-Saxon bishops for centuries, an international port, and the Domesday book of 1086 puts the population at over 3,000.

The harbour and most of the town disappeared due to coastal erosion, exacerbated by tremendous storms. Its decline began in 1286 when a storm surge hit the East Anglian coast, followed by a great storm in 1287 and another great storm, also in 1287, until it eventually shrank to the village it is today. Today Dunwich, in the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB, is a wonderful place to visit to enjoy walking and wildlife. Its story is told in the local museum. Check here for opening times.

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