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Eye, Suffolk

Historical Description

Eye, an ancient municipal borough, a market-town, and a parish in Suffolk. The town stands at the terminus of a branch from Mellis of the G.E.R., 20 miles N from Ipswich, and 94 from London. It was known to the Saxons as Eay, signifying " an island," and it took that name from being nearly surrounded by two rivers. It is irregularly built, and contains many thatched houses. It is the head of a petty sessional division and a county court district; it had a castle built by the Malets soon after the Conquest; and it has a head post office, two banks, a modern town-hall and corn exchange, gasworks, a church, Baptist and Wesleyan chapels, remains of a Benedictine monastery, the Hartismere workhouse, a grammar-school, rebuilt in 1876, and enlarged in 1878 and 1882, and some almshouses for poor widows or aged spinsters. Brewing is carried on, and there is a/ small iron foundry. The church is a large and handsome building of flint and stone, with a fine embattled western tower, and it contains a most beautiful chancel screen, and some interesting tombs and monuments. The Benedictine monastery was founded by the Malets; was a cell to Bernay Abbey; contained the Bed Book, or Sfc Felix's-copyofthe Gospels in great Lombard letters; and was given at the dissolution to the Suffolk family. A weekly market is held on Monday. The town was chartered by King John, and is a borough by prescription; it is governed by a mayor, 4 aldermen, and 12 councillors; and it sent two members to Parliament from the tune of Elizabeth till the Act of 1832, when the number was reduced to one. In 1885 its representation was merged in that of the county. The municipal borough is conter-minate with the parish. Acreage, 4410; population, 2064. The manor was given by William the Conqueror to Robert Malet; belonged to the late Marquis Cornwallis, who took from it the title of baron; and belongs now to Lady Bate-man. The living is a vicarage in the diocefce of Norwich; gross yearly value, £490 with residence.

Eye Parliamentary Division, or North-Eastern Suffolk was formed under the Redistribution of Seats Act of 1885, and returns one member to the House of Commons. Population, 54,826. The division includes the following:- Blything (part of)-Aldringham, Benhall, Blythburgh, Bram-field, Carlton, Cookley, Cratfield, Darsham, Famham, Friston Hazlewood, Heveningham, Huntingfield, Kelsale, Knodishall, Leiston, Linstead (Magna), Linstead (Parva), Middleton, Peasenhall, Sasmundham, Sibton, Snape, Sternfield, Theberton, Thorington, Ubbeston, Walberswick, Walpole, Wenhaston, Westleton, Yoxford; Framlingham-Ashfield-with-Thorpe, Badingham, Bedfield, Brandeston, Bruisyard, Cransford, Cretingham, Debenham, Dennington, Earl Soham, Easton, Framlingham, Framsden, Glemham (Great), Glemham (Little), Hacheston, Hoo, Kenton, Kettleburgh, Letheringham, Marlesford, Monewden, Monk Soham, Parham, Pettaugh, Eendham, JSaxted, Stratford (St Andrew), Swefling, Tannington, Win-ston; Hartismere-Aspall, Bacton, Botesdale, Braiseworth, Brome, Burgate, Cotton, Finningham, Gislingham, Mellis, Mendlesham, Oakley, Occold, Palgrave, Eedgrave, Bedlingfield, Rickinghall (Superior), Rishangles, Stoke Ash, Stuston, Thorndon, Thornham (Magna), Thornham (Parva), Thran-deston, Thwaite, Westhorpe, Wetheringsett-cum-Brockford, Wickham Skeith, Wortham, Wyverstone, Yasley; Hoxne- Athelington, Bedingfield, Brundish, Denham, Fressingfield, Horham, Hoxne, Laxfield, Mendham, Metfield, Southolt, Stradbroke, Sylebam, Weybread, Wilby, Wingfield, Withers-dale, Worliugworth; Eye, municipal borough.

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 parishEye St. Peter and St. Paul 
Poor Law unionHartismere 

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

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Eye from the following:

Land and Property

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


Online maps of Eye 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:

DistrictMid Suffolk
Postal districtIP23
Post TownEye