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Suffolk's most southerly parish, containing the county's most southerly pub (The Dolphin). Daniel Defoe was of the opinion that Felixstowe was far enough south that it should be considered to be in Essex.
Today this town is mainly a modern residential settlement, which contains an Edwardian coastal holiday resort alongside a modern port which is now the largest container port in the country. The parish of Walton (merged in 1895) retains a Victorian high street to the west of the main settlement whilst Felixstowe Ferry is a small separate hamlet just about 2Km to north-east and which lies on the Deben estuary. The pier dates from 1904 whilst the promenade was built in 1902.
A notable Edwardian feature was "Felixstowe Spa" located at foot of Hamilton cliffs, with a natural spring and pump room. Walton castle once stood in Felixstow parish on high cliffs about a mile south of the early village. Its western foundations were about 187 yards in length but mostly washed away by about 1740. The same site is believed to have also been used by the romans.
Also close to the modern container port is Languard Fort which was originally built to defend Harwich in 1540 and was rebuilt in 1875 to help defend the coastline from French invasion. Today the fort is both a museum and occasional arts venue and is well worth a visit as is the nearby Languard Point where you can enjoy a stunning view of the coastal estuary and modern docks.
The mouths of both rivers Orwell and Deben still suffer from shifting sands in stormy winters and require regular dredging.
Today the massive container port facility dominates the entrance to the Orwell estuary just to the south of the town and is partly located on the former WWI flying station.
RAF Felixstowe was active as an air station for nearly 50 years, but little now remains of this historic base. From August 1913 early flying was dominated by seaplanes. After a busy decade of operations and the building of three hangers, from March 1924 the Marine Aircraft Experimental Eatablishment (MAEE) was based here for the trialling of all UK seaplanes and flying boats including both the 1929 & 1931 Schneider Trophy winners. (NB: On Sunday 13th September 1931 Flt. Lt J N Bootham (RAF) in a Southampton-built Supermarine S6B seaplane averaged 340.08mph around a 217-mile circuit over the Solent to win the Schneider Trophy outright for Great Britain.)
For a while T.E.Laurence (of WW1 Arabia fame) was also based at RAF Felixstowe as an engineer, before his sudden death in March 1935. The MAEE moved to Scotland during WW2 and the balloon barrage around nearby Harwich virtually precluded most flying except for the maintenance of some massive Shorts Sunderlands and various Supermarine Walrus (used for air-sea rescue). From 1945 until March 1956 the MAEE returned until closure. Air-sea rescue also continued with Whirlwind helicopters based at Felixstowe until May 1961.
Mrs Simpson was a guest in the town for several months in 1936 until her decree nisei was granted in Ipswich court which cleared the legalities for her subsequent marriage to Edward Windsor (and which subsequently caused his abdication). Sadly the house that she stayed in has since been demolished.
Some details from ââ‚¬Å“Suffolk Airfields in WW2ââ‚¬ by Graham Smith.