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.
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