A visitors guide to the Suffolk town of Bungay located in Suffolk.
On all the town signs as you enter Bungay are the words 'Welcome to
Bungay - a fine old town'. Bungay lies within the Broads National
Park in an area known as the Waveney Valley. The town can trace
its roots back to the middle ages and has many historic buildings
including the ruins of a Castle. The centre of Bungay is
officially recognised as a Conservation Area by English Heritage and you
can pick up a town trail guide from the Tourist Information Office in
The building are predominantly Georgian, the result of the town having
been almost destroyed by a great fire in 1688. The town is enclosed by
the River Waveney on three sides, which provides good fishing and
boating activities as well as some very pleasant riverside walks. One of
Bungay's best known landmarks is the 17th century Butter Cross topped by
the figure of 'Justice'. A market has been held on this spot since 1382
and is still held here every Thursday.
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The term Buttercross comes from the fact that farmers used to display
their butter, eggs and other farm produce for sale at these sites. Up
until 1609 there was also a Corn Cross but it was taken down and
replaced by a pump, which itself was dismantled in 1933. The Buttercross
was once used as a prison with a dungeon beneath it this was replaced in
Georgian times by an iron cage in which were placed local villains.
These prisoners were fastened to one of the pillars you will see some
wrist irons an indication of punishment from earlier times.
There is a good range of restaurants, cafes and inns as well as a number
of interesting specialist shops. The town also has an indoor swimming
pool, a theatre and nearby you will find a 18 hole golf course. The
Otter Trust Sanctuary at neighbouring Earsham is only a short drive away
and houses one of the world's largest collection of otters.
Yearly events in the town include an Antiques Market, Christmas Market
and a Spring Garden Market held along the entire length of Earsham
St. Mary's Church with its ninety foot tower dates from the 12th century
and was originally the church for the Benedictine Priory which was
founded by Gundreda, wife of Roger Bigod, who owned the castle. The
castle was originally owned by the Normans but was later rebuilt around
1300, by Richard Bigod a rich East Anglian landowner who held the title
the Earl of Norfolk.
Its walls were some eighteen feet thick and it had
ninety feet towers, alas all that remains today are ruins including the
remains of the two semi-circular towers flanked by the gatehouse.
An interesting tale attached to the town of Bungay is that on Sunday 4th
August 1577, when the congregation were assembled in St. Mary's Church
for morning worship a terrifying thunderstorm occurred "such
darkness, rain, hail, thunder and lightning as was never seen the
like" according to the Parish records. The church became as dark as
night and suddenly a Black Dog appeared before the terrified
congregation. Running along the aisle with incredible speed, the strange
beast grabbed two people "and wrung the necks of them both at one
instant, clean backward, so that even at that moment where they kneeled,
they strangely died".
Then this beast leapt upon another man, and "gave him such a grip
on the back that he was presently drawn together and shrunk up like a
piece of leather scorched in a hot fire". The beast or 'the devil
in such a likeness' then flew off to Blythburgh
church about 12 miles distant.
The story is one of the regions most famous legends and the black dogs
image appears on the Bungay coat of arms and in various sites around the
town centre including the weathervane. Some people still claim to
see him today and he is linked to Black