Beccles and Bungay are market towns on the River Waveney in Suffolk 5 miles (8 km) apart on the southern edge of the Norfolk Broads. They are rural towns catering primarily to the local populations rather than tourists.
In 2011, Beccles had a population of over 10,000 people, with almost 4,000 more living in Worlingham, a suburb. Bungay had a population of 5,100 people.
In Bungay one Sunday during a church service in 1577 during thunderstorms a black hellhound apparition appeared and attacked members of the congregation. Today this dog is included in the town's coat of arms and the "Black Dog" name can be seen cropping up around the town. The dog has been linked to the Black Shuck - a dog renowned for hunting the coasts of Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex (and featured in a song by the rock group The Darkness).
The name Bungay is thought to derive from the Anglo-Saxon title Bunincga-haye, signifying the land belonging to the tribe of Bonna, a Saxon chieftain. Due to its high position, protected by the River Waveney and marshes, the site was in a good defensive position and attracted settlers from early times. Roman artefacts have been found in the region.
Bungay was important for the printing and paper manufacture industries. Joseph Hooper, a wealthy Harvard graduate who fled Massachusetts when his lands were seized after the American Revolution, rented a mill at Bungay in 1783 and converted it to paper manufacture. Charles Brightly established a printing and stereotype foundry in 1795.
The railway arrived with the Harleston to Bungay section of the Waveney Valley Line opening in November 1860 and the Bungay to Beccles section in March 1863. Bungay had its own railway station. It was closed to passengers in 1953 and freight in 1964.
The name Beccles is conjectured to be derived from Becc-Liss (Brittonic=Small-court), or Bece-laes (Old English=Meadow by Stream), or a contraction of Beata Ecclesia, the name of the Christian temple erected c. 960 by the monks of the monastery of Bury. Once a flourishing Anglian riverport, it lies in the Waveney valley and is a popular boating centre. The town was granted its charter in 1584 by Elizabeth I.
- 1 Beccles Station, Station Rd, Beccles NR34 9QJ. On the East Suffolk Ipswich to Lowestoft line, Station managed by and services provided by Greater Anglia.
Regional Cycle Route 30 runs through both towns through Diss and Thetford to the W and to Lowestoft to the E. In Beccles route 30 connects with National Cycle Route 1 (Shetland to Dover via Norwich and Ipswich) as well as Regional Cycle Route 31 (Reedham to Southwold).
Both towns are small enough to see on foot, though they are 5 miles apart.
- 1 St Michaels Church, New Market Beccles NR34 9HE. It was at this church in 1749 that the mother of Horatio Nelson, Catherine Suckling, married the Reverend Edmund Nelson (a former curate of Beccles). The Suffolk poet George Crabbe married Sarah Elmy at Beccles Church in the 18th century.
- 2 Beccles and District Museum, Leman House, Ballygate, Beccles NR34 9ND, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Beccles Museum is housed in Leman House, a Grade I listed building and has a collection of agricultural, industrial and domestic items, including collections of tools, boat building, printing, costumes and natural history.
- 3 Beccles Bell Tower, ☏ . The townscape is dominated by the detached 16th century bell tower (known as the Beccles bell tower) of St Michael's Church. Like the main body of the church, the tower is Perpendicular Gothic in style and is 97 ft tall. The interior of the church was badly damaged by fire in 1586. It has a 13th-century font. The tower is not attached to the church and at the wrong end of the church as the correct end would be too close to a large cliff.
- 4 Bungay Castle, Castle Orchard, Bungay NR35 1DD. Bungay Castle was built by the Normans but was later rebuilt by Roger Bigod, 5th Earl of Norfolk and his family, who also owned Framlingham Castle. Bungay's village sign shows the castle. The castle contains a unique surviving example of mining galleries, dating to the siege of the castle in 1174. They were intended to undermine and thus collapse the castle's tower and keep. Free (donations appreciated).
- Churches in Bungay: The Church of St. Mary was once the church of the Benedictine Bungay Priory, founded by Gundreda, wife of Roger de Glanville. The 11th-century church of Holy Trinity, with its round tower, lies SE of St. Mary's churchyard, while the 19th-century red brick Roman Catholic church of St. Edmund is immediately south of the churchyard.
- Beccles Town Hall, an 18th-century octagonal town hall.
- Beccles Carnival, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Annual late Aug.
- 1 Beccles Golf Club, The Common, Common Lane, Beccles, NR34 9BX, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com.
- 2 Beccles Lido (Openair Swimming Pool), Puddingmoor, Beccles NR34 9PL, ☏ .
- 3 Ellough Park Raceway (Go-Karting Track), Benacre Rd, Ellough NR34 7XD, ☏ . Daily 10AM-late.
- 4 Fisher Theatre (Performance Arts Venue & Cinema), 10 Broad Street, Bungay NR35 1EE, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 5 Bungay & Waveney Valley Golf Club, Outney Common, Bungay NR35 1DS, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com.
- 6 Bungay Pool & Gym, St Johns Hill, Bungay NR35 1PH, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Centre: M-F 6AM-10PM, Sa Su 8AM-6PM.
Boat and canoe hire
- 7 Outney Meadow Caravan Park (Canoe Hire), Outney Meadow, Bungay NR35 1 HG, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Canadian canoe: £24/half day, £35/day.
- 8 Rowan Craft Ltd, Wherry Dyke, Geldeston, Beccles, NR34 0LY (5½ miles E of Bungay, 3 miles W of Beccles), ☏ . 8:30AM–1PM, 2–5PM. Boat hire: 3 hr £50, 6 hr £80; canoe hire: 3 hr £23, 6 hr £35; two-and three-person canoes available.
- 9 Hipperson (Dayboat Hire), Gillingham Dam, Beccles NR34 0EB, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Summer: M-F 8:30AM-5PM, Sa 8:30AM-5PM, Su 9AM-5PM; Winter: M-F 8:30AM-5PM, Sa 9AM-1PM. £19 per hr.
- 1 Bungay Market, Buttercross, Market Place Bungay NR35 1AR. Th 7AM-.
- 2 Tesco (Supermarket), George Westwood Way, Beccles NR34 9QH, ☏ . M-Sa 6AM-midnight, Su 10AM-4PM.
- 3 Co-op (Convenience Store), Rigbourne Hill, Swines Green, Beccles NR34 9JF, ☏ . M-Sa 6AM-10PM, Su 7:30AM-10PM. ATM
- 4 Co-op (Convenience Store), Hillside Rd East, Bungay NR35 1RX, ☏ . M-F 8AM-10PM, Sa 8AM-8PM, Su 10AM-4PM. ATMs. Petrol station (different hours).
- 1 Prezzo (Italian Restaurant), 9 Saltgate, Beccles NR34 9AN, ☏ . Daily noon-11:30PM.
- 2 [formerly dead link] India Gate (Indian Restaurant), 16 Newgate Beccles NR34 9QD, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Daily 6PM-11:30PM.
- 3 Graze (Cafe, Bar & Grill), 29 New Market, Beccles NR34 9HE, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-Sa 11AM-3PM & 6PM-11PM, Su noon-4PM.
- 4 Suffolk Stonehouse (Pizza Restaurant), 18 St Mary's St, Bungay NR35 1AX, ☏ . M-W 5-9PM, Th-Su 3:30-9:30PM.
- 1 [dead link] The Locks Inn (Pub & Food), Lock's Lane, Geldeston NR34 0HS (4½ miles W of Beccles, 5½ miles E of Bungay), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Pub: daily 11AM-11PM; food: M-F noon-2:30PM & 6PM-9PM, Sa Su noon-9PM.
- 2 Twyfords Cafe, Exchange Square, Beccles NR34 9HL, ☏ . Patisserie: M-Sa 8AM-5PM; cafe M-Sa 8:30AM-5PM.
- 3 Wine Vaults (Bar & Restaurant), 2A Blyburgate, Beccles NR34 9TA, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Bar: M-Th 11AM-11PM, F Sa 11AM-1AM, Su 10AM-midnight; food: M-F noon-2:30PM & 6PM-9PM, Sa noon-9PM, Su 10AM-9PM.
- 4 The Green Dragon (Pub), 29 Broad St, Bungay NR35 1EF, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. M-F 11AM-midnight, Sa noon-midnight, Su noon-5PM.
- 1 The Swan Motel (Rooms, restaurant & bar), Loddon Rd, Gillingham NR34 0LD (2 miles NW of Beccles, 7 miles E of Bungay), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 2 The Waveney House Hotel, Puddingmoor, Beccles NR34 9PL, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com.
- 3 Saltgate House (B&B), 5 Saltgate, Beccles NR34 9AN, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Double/twin from £70/night.
- 4 The King's Head Hotel, 4–6 New Market, Beccles NR34 9HA, ☏ .
- 5 [dead link] The Old Grain Store (B&B), Wainford House, Wainford Rd, Bungay NR35 1TA (1 mile E of Bungay), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com.
- 6 Folly Studio (B&B), 8 Woodland Dr, Bungay NR35 1PE, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Double occupancy £78/night; single occupancy £55/night.
- 1 Beccles Post Office, WH Smith, 9 Newmarket Place, Beccles NR34 9HQ. M-F 8:30AM-5:30PM, Sa 9AM-12:30PM, Su 10AM-2PM.
- 2 Bungay Post Office, 38 St Mary St, Bungay NR35 1AX. M-Sa 6AM-6PM, Su 7AM-1PM.