The project will investigate the role of Harwich as a port and small town that was strategically significant for the defence of the country. Its significance grew during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars when barracks were established in Harwich to complement Landguard Fort. The packet station at Harwich was of national significance being one of the main routes to the Continent and the town also served as a base for HM Customs.
The most important industries in Harwich were sea-fishing and shipbuilding while Dovercourt was a predominantly agricultural community. The social life of Harwich was centred on the numerous inns, particularly the Three Cups, as well as the church and freemason communities. Harwich was a treasury borough which sent two members to parliament.
Research has started on documentary sources in the Essex Record Office (Chelmsford), The British Library, The National Archives (Kew) and in local collections in Harwich.
The VCH is especially grateful to The Harwich Society and Harwich Town Council who have both offered to provide access to their collections and working space, and help to promote the VCH project locally.