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"BUNGAY, a market town in the hundred and union of Wangford, in the county of Suffolk and comprises the two parishes of Holy Trinity and St. Mary, 14 miles S.E. of Norwich, 40 to the N.E. of Ipswich, and 109 from London by road, or 113 by railway. It is a station on the Waveney Valley branch of the Great Eastern railway. Bungay is situated in a pleasant country on the borders of Norfolk, on the banks of the river Waveney, which separates the two counties. The river is navigable from this place to Yarmouth, and is here crossed by a handsome bridge of modern erection. The river makes a bend, and surrounds the town on all sides except the S.E. Bungay had formerly a castle, built in Stephen's reign by one of the Bigods, earls of Norfolk. It stood on an eminence, and was considered, according to the ancient ballad by one of its lords, Hugh Bigod, impregnable: "Were I in my Castle of Bungay, Upon the river of Waveney, I would'ne care for the king of Cockney." Some portions of its walls still exist. About the year 1160, a nunnery of the Benedictine order was founded here by Roger de Glanville and his lady, the Countess Gundreda, which flourished till the Dissolution, and was valued at £62. The ruins of the building are near St. Mary's Church. In 1689, almost the whole town was destroyed by an accidental fire. In consequence of this conflagration the houses, with the exception of one or two, are of modern date. The streets are paved and lighted with gas, and there is a good supply of water. In the middle of the town is the market place, with a market-house and cross, octangular in form, and surmounted with a dome and a figure of Justice. Another cross formerly stood near it, which was removed in 1810.

The business of the town is chiefly agricultural; a good trade in grain, malt, lime, coals, timber, &c., being carried on by means of the river. There are several iron-foundries, flour-mills, malt-houses, limekilns, a paper-mill, silk manufactory, and an extensive and well-known printing establishment. The theatre is no longer used as such, but is occupied as a corn exchange. The town contains assembly rooms, a dispensary, and a savings-bank. An extensive tract of common lies on the N. side of the town, and is encompassed by the river. Bungay is within the jurisdiction of the Beccles county court; and petty sessions are held weekly at the King's head inn. The living of St. Mary is a perpetual curacy in the diocese of Norwich, worth £115, in the patronage of the Duke of Norfolk, lord of the manor. The church, chiefly ancient, but partly rebuilt in 1696, is a large and handsome structure of flint and stone, with a fine tower. It contains several monuments. The register dates from the year 1588. The living of Holy Trinity is a vicarage in the same diocese, value £256, in the gift of the bishop. The church is small and very ancient, and has a round tower. The register dates from 1557. Here are chapels belonging to the Independents, Wesleyans, Roman Catholics, and Baptists, and a free grammar school, founded about the close of the 16th century, which has a revenue from endowment of about £60 per annum. It has four scholarships at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, to the Master and Fellows of which college the appointment of the master of the school belongs. There are also National and British schools. In the town are several almshouses, some of which were established and endowed by Mrs. Dwyer, in 1848. The town lands are under the management of trustees, and produce about £440 per annum. The other charities of the town amount to about £160 a year. Bungay had formerly a third church, dedicated to St. Thomas, and two chapels, but they were long ago destroyed. Thursday is the market day. Fairs are held for horses and cattle on the 14th May and the 25th September. Races take place annually in the month of August. In the vicinity of the town are several mansions of noble proportions: Flixton Hall, which was nearly destroyed by fire in 1847, has been restored in the Elizabethan style; St. Mary's Hall, Hedenham Park, Broom Place, Earsham Hall, and Ditchingham Hall."

Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)


Church History

Descriptions and photographs of churches in the parish may be found in Simon Knott's Suffolk Churches.


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Historical Geography

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Beccles and Bungay Weekly News Transcriptions of births, deaths, marriages and other selected material from the "Beccles and Bungay Weekly News" prepared by Janelle Penney from microfilm supplied by the British Library Newspaper Library.