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Beccles, Suffolk

Historical Description

Beccles, an ancient market-town, municipal borough, and parish in Suffolk. The town stands on the river Waveney and on the G.E.R., amid pleasant environs, 8½ miles W of Lowestoft. It belonged anciently to Bury Abbey, and suffered severely in 1586 from fire. It is now well-built, and comprises several streets, which diverge from a spacious market-place, with a considerable number of separate private residences. It is governed by a mayor, four aldermen, and twelve councillors, and it possesses an estate of about 958 acres, the revenue of which until recently precluded the necessity for borough rates. It has also several valuable charities and some almshouses. The town is well paved, sewered, and lighted, and is supplied with water by the Beccles Water Company. The chief industries are making, printing, tanning, coach-building, the manufacture of agricultural implements, bricks, tiles, earthenware, and tobacco. pipes. There is a large town-hall, held in trust by the mayor,. used for religious, social, and political purposes, a town library, a council chamber, corn hall, and hospital. The old jail was converted in 1879 into a court-house, where the petty sessions and county courts are held, and a police station with a lockup. The parish church is Later English; consists of nave, chancel, and aisles, altogether 148 feet long and 61¼ wide, was renovated in 1859, and has a tower, 92 feet high, built about 1515, detached a short distance from the SE corner, and commanding a fine view of the surrounding country. Another church or a chapel, connected with an hospital for lepers, founded in the time of Edward IIL, stood at Endgate. A cemetery, formed in 1854, comprises 5 acres beautifully laid out, and contains two chapels. The town has Baptist, Roman Catholic, Congregationalist, Wesleyan, and Primitive Methodist chapels. It has a head post office, a station on the G.E.R., two banking offices, two endowed schools, and regular communication by steamers with London by way of Lowestoft. The Waveney is navigable hence to the sea, making Beccles a subport to Yarmouth. Messrs Clowes & Sons, Limited, the eminent printers of London, have a branch here, and publish a weekly newspaper. The town is a polling place for the Northern division of the county. The parish is conterminate with the borough. Acreage, 2017; population, 6669. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Norwich; net value, j£230 with residence, in the gift of Simeon Trustees.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountySuffolk 
Ecclesiastical parishBeccles St. Michael 
Poor Law unionWangford 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Beccles from the following:

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Suffolk is available to browse.


Online maps of Beccles are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Suffolk papers online:

Postal districtNR34
Post TownBeccles