The Town of Bungay in Suffolk

Bungay Suffolk Holidays

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 Broad Street.

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. 

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 Street.

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 Shuck.

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