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Bungay, Suffolk

Historical Description

Bungay, a market-town, two parishes, and a petty sessional division in Suffolk. The town stands on the verge of the county, within a fold of the river Waveney, on the Waveney Valley branch of the G.E.R., 6 miles W of Beccles. The name of it is said to be a corruption of Le Bon Eye, " the beautiful island." A castle at it was the seat and stronghold of the Bigods, Earls of Norfolk; was garrisoned by one of them for Stephen, and thought to be impregnable; passed to the Crown in the time of Edward I., was afterwards given to the Mortimers, and reverted to the Crown in the time of Edward IV. Remains of it still exist on a fine site with pleasant views, and a bowling green has been laid down in the castle grounds. An old ballad represents one of the Bigod owners of the castle, the troublesome Earl Hugh, as saying, on his retreat from Framlingham-" Were I in my strong castle of Bungay, Upon the water of Waveney, I would ne care for the King of Cockayne, Nor all his bravery."

A Benedictine nunnery was founded on a spot between the two parish churches in 1160 by Roger de Glanville and his wife the Countess Gundreda, and given at the dissolution to the Duke of Norfolk. The town, excepting one street, was destroyed by fire in 1688, and most of it now is modern, and consists of spacious well-built streets containing many good houses and shops. There is an excellent water supply derived from springs. The cost of the lighting and paving is defrayed out of the income derived from the town lands, which is about £400 a year, and which leaves a surplus that is devoted to improvements and to charity. The market-place, which stands on rising ground in the centre of the town, formerly had two market crosses, but now has only one, an octagonal " Butter Cross" built in 1690. The market day is Thursday. There is a corn exchange, which was formerly a theatre. Bungay comprises the two parishes of St Mary and Holy Trinity, and there are two parish churches. St Mary's Church is a large and stately structure of flint and stone in the Perpendicular style, and has a fine tower. It was restored in 1879. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Norwich; net yearly value, £204 with residence, in the gift of trustees. Holy Trinity Church is a small building of rubble and flint, supposed to have been built in the llth century. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Norwich; net yearly value, £226 with residence, in the gift of the Bishop of Norwich. There are also Baptist, Roman Catholic, Congregational, Primitive Methodist, and Wesleyan chapels. There are two cemeteries-one for each parish-of about 2 acres each. There is an endowed grammar school, originally founded in 1592, which is regulated by a scheme of the Endowed Schools Commission issued in 1879. There are two commons under the management of common reeves -Outney Common, a capital green space of about 402 acres to the N of the town; and Stow Fen, to the S, containing 88 acres. The town has a station on the railway, is a head post, money order, and telegraph office, has two banks, is the head of a petty sessional division, and a polling-place for the northern division of the county. Area of civil parish of Holy Trinity, 2052 acres; population, 1801; of the ecclesiastical parish, 1874; area of St Mary, 590 acres; population, 1759; of ecclesiastical parish, 1707. The Waveney is navigable hither, and a considerable trade is carried on in grain, flour, malt, and lime. At Ditchingham, on the Norfolk side near the town, there is a large silk manufactory which affords employment to a great number of females, and in the town itself are extensive printing offices. Business is also done in making, lime burning, iron-founding, and milling, and there are some steam saw-mills. Upland Hall, a fine country seat, famous for its huge Levant oak, stands about a mile from the town on the Flixton Road.

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 
Poor Law unionWangford 

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

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Bungay from the following:

Land and Property

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


Online maps of Bungay 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 districtNR35
Post TownBungay