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Town coat of arms
Diss shown within Norfolk
|Area||5.32 km2 (2.05 sq mi)|
|Population||7,503 (2011 census)|
|– density||1,410/km2 (3,700/sq mi)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Ambulance||East of England|
|EU Parliament||East of England|
|UK Parliament||South Norfolk|
The town lies in the valley of the River Waveney, around a mere (lake) that covers 6 acres (2.4 ha). The mere is up to 18 feet (5.5 m) deep, although there is another 51 feet (16 m) of mud. The town takes its name from dic an Anglo-Saxon word meaning either ditch or embankment.
Diss has a large number of historic buildings, including the early 14th century parish church. It is also home to a museum. Diss railway station lies on the Great Eastern Main Line route from London to Norwich. Just outside of Diss is the home of the 100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum.
At the time of Edward the Confessor, Diss was part of the Hartismere hundred (a hundred was an administrative subdivision) of Suffolk, and it was recorded as such in Domesday book. It is recorded as being in the king's possession as demesne (direct ownership) of the Crown, there being at that time[clarification needed] a church and a glebe of 24 acres. This was considered to be worth £15 per annum, which had doubled by the time of William the Conqueror, it being then estimated at £30 with the benefit of the whole hundred and half[clarification needed], belonging to it. It was then found to be a league long, around 3 miles (5 km) and half this distance broad, and paid 4d. in Danegeld. From this it appears that it was still relatively small, but it grew shortly afterwards when it subsumed Watlingsete Manor, a neighbouring area, which was as large as Diss, and seemingly fuller of inhabitants, according to the geld or tax that it paid. This[clarification needed] was afterwards called Walcote, and includes part of Heywode, as appears from its joining to Burston, into which town this manor extended.
The whole estate later fell into the hands of the Lordship of the FitzWalters (who were raised to Baron FitzWalters in 1295) and in 1299 the then Lord FitzWalter obtained a charter of confirmation for a fair every year at his manor of Diss, to be held around the feast of Saint Simon and Jude (October 28), and several days after. A grant made in 1298 to William Partekyn of Prilleston (now Billingford) granted, for homage and half a mark of silver, two homesteads in Diss, with liberty of washing his wool and cloths in Diss Meer. This came on the express condition that the gross dye should be washed off first. It seems as if the church of Diss was built by the same Lord, as his arms were cut into the stone of the south porch of the church several times.
Soon after the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, Edward Plantagenet, Duke of York and Earl of Rutland, came to hold Diss manor, hundred, and market, together with Hemenhale; and the title of Lord FitzWalter became attached to the estate. It was part of a much larger estate that included Hemenhale and Diss manors, with the hundred of Diss in Norfolk, the manors of Shimpling and Thorne in Suffolk, of Wodeham-Walter (now Woodham Walter), Henham, Leiden (now part of Leaden Roding), Vitring, Dunmow Parva (now Little Dunmow), Burnham (possibly equating to the modern village of Burnham-on-Crouch), Winbush, and Shering (now Sheering) in Essex. Shortly afterwards, the estate was acquired by the Ratcliffe family, who inherited the title of Baron FitzWalter. The Ratcliffe family owned the land until at least 1732, styling themselves Viscounts FitzWalter.
Opposite the 14th-century parish church of St. Mary the Virgin stands a 16th-century building known as the Dolphin House. This was one of the most important buildings in the town. Its impressive dressed-oak beams denote it as an important building, possibly a wool merchant's house. Formerly a pub, the Dolphin, from the 1800s to the 1960s, the building now houses a number of small businesses.
Adjacent to Dolphin House is the town's market place, the geographical and social centre of the town. The market is held every Friday (except Good Friday and other holidays, when it is rescheduled to the preceding Thursday): a variety of local traders sell fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, fish and cheeses. The market was first granted a charter by Richard the Lionheart. The town's post office and main shopping street (Mere Street) are also located by the marketplace.
Early in 1871, substantial alterations were made to a house in Mount Street, about 100 yards (100 m) north of the parish church. The workmen were removing the brick flooring of one of the ground floor rooms and excavating the soil beneath, to insert the joists of a boarded floor, when they discovered a hoard of coins. Beneath the bricks, they came upon the original hard clay floor, and in the centre of the room, at about 18 inches (50 cm) from the surface, the remains of an earthen vessel were found, containing over 300 coins. Except for two fine gold nobles, all of the coins were silver.
Sport and culture
The town is home to several sporting organisations, including football club Diss Town FC, who won the FA Vase at Wembley in 1994, Diss RFC (based in nearby Roydon) who won the London 2 North league in 2009 earning promotion to the National leagues, Diss & District Cycling Club and Diss & District Bowls Club, Diss ladies netball club and Diss and District athletics club.
Diss has produced a few national and international sports stars, including footballer Matthew Upson, who played in defence for England and Arsenal amongst others, and Great Britain judo team member Colin Oates.
The local Rugby Union club in Roydon has recently enjoyed a great deal of success having been promoted twice in successive years.
Famous people from Diss include John Skelton, a former poet laureate whose poem "Ware the Hawk" is set in St. Mary's Church. Others include Thomas Lord, founder of Lord's Cricket Ground and England footballer Matthew Upson.
Ethel Le Neve born 1883 on Bryars Lane (off Victoria Road) was the mistress of Hawley Harvey Crippen - better known as Dr Crippen, who murdered his wife Cora Crippen in 1910.
- Office for National Statistics & Norfolk County Council, 2011. Census population and household counts for unparished urban areas and all parishes.
- Ekwall, E. (1940) The Concise Dictionary of English Place-names; 2nd ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press; pp. 137, 139
- Blomefield, Francis (c. 1736). History of Norfolk. London (published c. 1806).
- "Coin Hoard Article". Detecting.merseyblogs.co.uk. 2007-02-15. Retrieved 2009-11-30.
- Cittaslow, 2006. Diss becomes Cittaslow.
- "BBC SPORT | Judo | GB name 14-strong team for Worlds". BBC News. 2009-08-07. Retrieved 2009-11-30.
- An Illustrated History & Guide to Diss, by Stephen Govier, published in 2007.
- wikisource:History of Norfolk/Volume 1/Diss
- Diss Town Council – official town council website
- Norfolk: Diss GENUKI Norfolk transcript from History, Gazetteer, and Directory of Norfolk, William White, 1845