This historic market town and popular yachting centre is beautifully located on the River Waveney, in the heart of rural Suffolk. Bungay's history dates back long before the Norman Conquest, and is believed to be named after the Anglo-Saxon tribe of Bonna. The core of the town is mainly 17/18th century, with many elegant buildings dating back to 1688, when a fire destroyed much of the original settlement. Originally a market centre, the trades of printing and leatherworking greatly increased the town's fortune in the 18th century.
Bungay Marketplace © Travel About Britain
In the market-place is a domed Butter Cross (built to keep the butter cool on market days), which replaced an older one destroyed by the fire. It once contained a cage where wrongdoers were imprisoned. The charming town centre is lined with many quaint little shops, restaurants and cafes. Shoppers can enjoy a variety of independent establishments, offering a range of craft goods, art, antiques, fashion and jewellery.
There as so many buildings of architectural interest in the centre that it has been deemed a conservation area by English Heritage. In St Mary's Street, a fine 16th-c. house has rare carved woodwork around the windows. Behind the marketplace stands the remains of a large Normal castle, that was later rebuilt by Robert Bigod, the 5th Earl of Norfolk.
The town's excellent 19th-c. Fisher Theatre (on Broad St) remains one of the oldest provincial theatres in the UK, that still provides regular showings of films, plays and exhibitions.
Bungay Holy Trinity © TAB
Rough flints and mortar were used to build the round towers of many small 11th-c churches in Suffolk. For example, Holy Trinity Parish Church has a round herringbone tower, which is mainly Norman, with later additions up to 1926.
The ruins of St Mary's Church, which has a fine pinnacled tower, was once the nave of a Benedictine nunnery. The Bungay Stone, near the north porch, is believed to be a 2000 year old Druid Cross.
A number of local walks are maintained by the parish council. These include the 'Bigod Way', a 5.5 mile circular walk starting at the castle, and a shorter 'Town Trail', that covers the town's main historic sites and buildings of interest. The Bungay Riverside Walk follows the riverside paths around Outney Common. To the east of the common is Broome Heath, a pleasant nature reserve with ponds and lakes.
Built by the Earls of Norfolk circa 1100. It quickly fell into disrepair and much of its stonework was recycled for local building materials and for road repairs during the 18th-c. Remains include a twin-towered gatehouse, sections of the curtain wall and part of the foundations. An unfinished mine shaft can be seen, which was initially dug to undermine the castle during a siege against Hugh Bigot by Henry II.
Opening times: Monday
to Saturday, 8.30 to 5.00 pm
Location: Bungay NR35 1AR
Tel: 01986 892721