Over time, the rivers silted up, and Dunwich was lost to the sea over a period of two to three hundred years through a form of coastal erosion known as long-shore drift. Buildings on the present day cliffs were once a mile inland and the village no longer has a significant natural harbor.
Most of the original buildings have disappeared, including all eight churches (a new church, All Saints, was built in the 19th century) and Dunwich is now a small coastal "village", though retaining its status as a town. However, the remains of a Franciscan priory and a building constructed as a hospice for lepers can still be seen. A local legend says that at certain tides, church bells can still be heard from beneath the waves.