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Coordinates: 52°27′22″N 1°26′13″E / 52.456°N 1.437°E / 52.456; 1.437
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bungay Buttercross
Bungay is located in Suffolk
Location within Suffolk
Area11 km2 (4.2 sq mi) [1]
Population5,127 (2011)[1]
• Density466/km2 (1,210/sq mi)
OS grid referenceTM336898
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townBungay
Postcode districtNR35
Dialling code01986
UK Parliament
List of places
52°27′22″N 1°26′13″E / 52.456°N 1.437°E / 52.456; 1.437

Bungay (/ˈbʌŋɡi/)[2] is a market town, civil parish and electoral ward in the English county of Suffolk.[3] It lies in the Waveney Valley, 5+12 miles (9 kilometres) west of Beccles on the edge of The Broads, and at the neck of a meander of the River Waveney.


The origin of the name of 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 Castle, which is shown on Bungay's town sign, was originally built by the Normans but was later rebuilt by Roger Bigod, 5th Earl of Norfolk and his family, who also owned Framlingham 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.

The Church of St. Mary was once the church of the Benedictine Bungay Priory, founded by Gundreda, wife of Roger de Glanville.[4] The 13th-century Franciscan friar Thomas Bungay later enjoyed a popular reputation as a magician, appearing as Roger Bacon's sidekick in Robert Greene's Elizabethan comedy Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay.

A window from St Edmund's Roman Catholic Church

The 11th-century church of Holy Trinity, with its round tower, lies southeast of St. Mary's churchyard, while the 19th-century red brick Roman Catholic church of St. Edmund is immediately south of St Mary's churchyard.

The town was almost destroyed by a great fire in 1688. The central Buttercross was constructed in 1689 and was the place where local farmers displayed their butter and other farm produce for sale. Until 1810, there was also a Corn Cross, but this was taken down and replaced by a pump.

Bungay was important for the printing and paper manufacture industries. Joseph Hooper, a wealthy Harvard University graduate who fled Massachusetts when his lands were seized after the American Revolution, rented a mill at Bungay in 1783 and converted it for paper manufacture.[5] Charles Brightly established a printing and stereotype foundry in 1795. Then in partnership with John Filby Childs, the business became Brightly & Childs in 1808 and later Messrs. Childs and Son.[6] Charles Childs (1807–1876) succeeded his father as the head of the firm of John Childs & Son.[7] The business was further expanded after 1876 as R. Clay and Sons, Ltd.[8]

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 near Clay's Printers. The station closed to passengers in 1953 and freight in 1964.

Modern Bungay[edit]

Local firms include St. Peter's Brewery, based at St. Peter's Hall to the south of the town.

In 2008, Bungay became Suffolk's first Transition Town and part of a global network of communities that have started projects in the areas of food, transport, energy, education, housing and waste as small-scale local responses to the global challenges of climate change, economic hardship and limited of cheap energy.


Bungay is the only town in the United Kingdom still to have a town reeve,[9] though there are surviving portreeves in Laugharne and Ashburton.[10] The reeve runs the town trust, from which each reeve selects the following reeve.[9][11][12]

Black Shuck[edit]

Black Shuck near Bungay's Buttercross
Black Shuck

St Mary's Church was struck by lightning on Sunday 4 August 1577. According to legend,[13] an apparition appeared during the thunderstorm, consisting of a black Hell Hound which dashed around the church, attacking members of the congregation. It then suddenly disappeared and re-appeared in Holy Trinity Church, Blythburgh 12 miles (19 km) away, injuring members of the congregation there. The dog has been associated with Black Shuck, a dog haunting the coasts of Norfolk, Essex, and Suffolk.[14]

An image of the Black Dog has been incorporated in the coat of arms of Bungay and has been used in the titles of various enterprises associated with Bungay as well as several of the town's sporting events. An annual race, The Black Dog Marathon, begins in Bungay, and follows the course of the River Waveney, and the town's football club is nicknamed the "Black Dogs". Black Shuck was also the subject of a song by The Darkness.


The local football club, Bungay Town, play in the Anglian Combination, having previously been members of the Eastern Counties League. The team plays its home games at the Maltings Meadow Sports Ground.

Godric Cycling Club is based in Bungay.[15] It organises a number of events each year, including weekly club runs.

Notable residents[edit]

Bungay was home to several literary figures. Thomas Miller (1731–1804), the bookseller and antiquarian, settled in the village. His publisher son, William Miller (1769–1844), was born there. The author Elizabeth Bonhôte, née Mapes, (1744–1818) was born and grew up there, marrying Daniel Bonhôte and writing the notable book Bungay Castle, a gothic romance. Bonhôte even once owned Bungay Castle. The Strickland family which, according to the Canadian Dictionary of Biography, was as prolific as the Brontës, Edgeworths and Trollopes, settled in the village 1802–08. Its daughters included Agnes, a historian.

The noted French writer, politician, diplomat and historian, François-René, vicomte de Chateaubriand while exiled from France, 1792 – 1800, during the Revolution spent a period living at the Music House, No. 34 Bridge Street. This is recorded on a blue plaque.[16]

Others were Catharine Parr Traill, who concentrated on children's literature, and Susanna Moodie, who emigrated to Canada and wrote Roughing it in the Bush (1852) as a warning to others. The novelist Sir H. Rider Haggard (1856–1925) was born nearby in Bradenham and presented St. Mary's Church with a wooden panel, displayed behind the altar. Religious writer Margaret Barber (1869–1901), author of the posthumously published best-selling book of meditations, The Roadmender, settled in Bungay.

More recently, Formula 1 motor racing president Bernie Ecclestone was brought up in Bungay and internet activist Julian Assange was confined to nearby Ellingham Hall, Norfolk in 2010–11. Authors Elizabeth Jane Howard[17] and Louis de Bernières[18] have lived in the town. Artist Michael Fell lived in the town in the 1980s and 1990s.[19] Blind artist Sargy Mann moved to Bungay in 1990 and lived there until his death in 2015.[20] Poet Luke Wright has lived in Bungay since 2010.[21] Children's author and illustrator James Mayhew lives in Bungay.[22]

Darts professional Andrew Gilding lives in Bungay. Gilding won the PDC's UK Open tournament in 2023, defeating Michael van Gerwen 11-10 in the final at Butlin's Minehead Resort.


Coat of arms of Bungay
Originally granted to Bungay Urban District Council on 6 July 1953, transferred to the successor parish in 1974.
On a wreath of the colours a representation of the Black dog of Bungay courant Proper upon a ray of lightning fesswise Gules.
Barry wavy of six Vert and Argent a Norfolk wherry in full sail Proper pennon flying Gules a chief Or thereon a port between two towers Sable the port ensigned with an escutcheon Gold charged with a cross also Gules.
Moribus Antiquis Pareamus (Let Us Ever Hold Fast to the Old Virtues)[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Town profile: Bungay, East Suffolk District Council, 2019. Retrieved 21 February 2021.
  2. ^ G. M. Miller, BBC Pronouncing Dictionary of British Names (Oxford UP, 1971), p. 22.
  3. ^ OS Explorer Map OL40: The Broads: (1:25 000) : ISBN 0 319 24086 X.
  4. ^ Page, W. (1975), 'Houses of Benedictine nuns: Priory of Bungay', A History of the County of Suffolk: Volume 2, pp. 81–83 (available online). Retrieved 30 April 2011.
  5. ^ Shipton, Clifford K (1970). Sibley's Harvard Graduates; Biographical Sketches of Those Who Attended Harvard College. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. pp. 404–406.
  6. ^ White, William (1844). History, Gazetteer, and Directory, of Suffolk. Sheffield, England: R. Leader. p. 425.
  7. ^ "Childs, John" . Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
  8. ^ Malster, Robert (2005). "Bungay 1926". Old Ordnance Survey Maps. Alan Godfrey Maps.
  9. ^ a b "Bungay welcomes new town reeve to unique and ancient role". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 3 January 2023.
  10. ^ "The Town Reeve". Better in Bungay. 21 August 2018. Retrieved 3 January 2023.
  11. ^ "New Bungay town reeve unveiled for 2023 as tradition continues". Beccles & Bungay Journal. Retrieved 3 January 2023.
  12. ^ "The Town Reeve and Feoffees". Bungay Town Trust. Retrieved 3 January 2023.
  13. ^ Mee, Arthur (1936). SUFFOLK. "Suffolk" volume is one of a series of 41 entitled "The King's England", covering English counties and London. First published 1936, with later revisions and reprints. Hodder & Stoughton. pp. Under entry for "Bungay". Pages vary according to edition.
  14. ^ History of the Black Dog of Bungay, Sanderling Internet, archived from the original on 10 March 2011, retrieved 7 March 2011
  15. ^ Waveney Rural Community Partnership – Sports Information Archived 1 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 10 May 2010.
  16. ^ "Secret Bungay – with style!". Welcome to Bungay. 21 August 2020. Retrieved 13 March 2024.
  17. ^ "In defence of Kingsley Amis: The letters". The Telegraph. 9 October 2007. Retrieved 13 March 2024.
  18. ^ At home with Louis de Bernières Archived 2009-05-13 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ "Biographies | Michael FELL (#4391) - The Cobbold Family History Trust". family-tree.cobboldfht.com. Retrieved 14 January 2024.
  20. ^ "Sargy Mann, artist - obituary"..
  21. ^ "Poet Luke Wright brings new tour to Norfolk and Suffolk".
  22. ^ "Biography | James Mayhew". Archived from the original on 2 February 2018. Retrieved 1 February 2018.
  23. ^ "East of England Region". Civic Heraldry of England. Retrieved 10 March 2021.

External links[edit]