Eye, Stradbroke and Diss
Two towns and a village with a wealth of history and natural environment to discover
Eye is a jewel of a town in north Suffolk, with a wealth of interesting places to visit and great places to shop and eat. You can take a leisurely walk around the town trail and visit some of the wonderful historic buildings, including the Victorian flint and brick Town Hall, the magnificent 15th century church of St Peter and St Paul, the Guild Hall which also dates from the 1400s and, of course, Eye Castle which possibly dates back to the 11th century and is well worth a visit.
Eye derives its name from the Old English word for ‘island’ and it is believed that the first settlement on the site would have been almost entirely surrounded by water and marshland formed by the River Dove and by the low land, part of which now forms the Town Moor. Before the Norman Conquest, Eye was one of the numerous holdings of Edric of Laxfield, a wealthy and influential Saxon and the third largest land holder in Suffolk. After the Norman Conquest, the importance of the town was firmly established in the region when the Honour of Eye was granted to William Malet, a Norman Lord, and continued to be held by royal or noble families until 1823. Between 1066 and 1071, Malet constructed a castle, to establish his military and administrative headquarters. The ruins of the keep are still there today.
Eye was known as a centre of lace making, made by local women, the last one of whom died in 1914. Lace was not the only industry, and the many trades and occupations of the people of Eye over the centuries included blacksmiths, wheelwrights, coopers, clockmakers, tailors, milliners and printers. Through the years Eye has had a deer park, a leper hospital, a jail, a workhouse, a David Fisher Theatre, a coaching inn with posting establishment (now White Lion House), a Working Men’s Hall and Reading Room, a Guildhall (now a private house next to the church), a grammar school (now the primary school), 20 pubs (including beer houses) and an airfield, which was occupied by the 490th USAAF Bomb Group during World War II. Until 2005, Eye also boasted one of the smallest professional theatres in the country, at the Assembly Room of the former White Lion Inn. Eye today is still a thriving town. One of the most innovative recent additions is The Bank Coffee House and Arts Centre, a not-for-profit Community Interest Company dedicated to bringing arts to Eye and surrounding areas. It’s housed in an old HSBC Bank, a Grade II Listed building and embraces a wide range of creative arts, including visual arts, music, theatre, literature, performance and education.
EVENTS March 4, 12pm-4pm
Snowdrop Open Garden The Old Coach House The Street, Brockdish, Diss, IP21 4JY In aid of EAAA, EACH, St Elizabeth Hospice, Prostate cancer and other local charities. Teas and refreshments available email@example.com
Eye Bach Choir Concert Gloria! Eye parish church, Church Street, Eye 7:30 pm With the Kingfisher Sinfonietta Tickets: firstname.lastname@example.org
Family Fun Day August 26
Diss is an interesting market town on the border of Suffolk and Norfolk, with a thriving, vibrant community. There’s lots to do and see in this part of the county, and it’s a great base for exploring the beautiful Waveney Valley. Recently Diss has been undertaking the Heritage Triangle Project, a scheme to revitalise the old historic heart of the town. The three main aspects to the project are the renovation and extension of the Corn Hall, the Streetscape Scheme to improve the public spaces in the streets and give more priority to pedestrians, and the wildlife garden and boardwalk behind the town council offices, from which visitors and residents can get a beautiful view of the iconic Mere. The Corn Hall project is now complete and the building has reopened to a fantastic new programme of events. The garden and boardwalk scheme is also complete with a lovely new relaxed space for people to enjoy.
DON’T MISS . . .
Diss Museum 4 Market Place, Diss, IP22 4JT Tel: 01379 650618 There’s something for everybody in this awardwinning community museum. The museum collects any interesting information or objects from within six miles of the town. www. dissmuseum.co.uk
The 100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum Common Road, Dickleburgh, Norfolk IP21 4PH Tel: 01379 740708 Housed in the original airfield control tower and other atmospheric buildings, 100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum is a moving testament to the Americans who came to Thorpe Abbotts in Norfolk to fight alongside the allies during World War Two. Admission- March 1 to October 31, weekends and bank holidays, 10am to 5pm Plus Wednesdays, May to September (last admission 4pm).
Redgrave and Lopham Fen Low Common Road, South Lopham, IP22 2HX Tel: 01379 688333 A 127 hectare biological site of Special Scientific Interest between Thelnetham and Diss. A great location for long walks, spotting wildlife and picnic benches for an enjoyable family trip out. Visitors can collect one of several popular walking map routes and follow the written commentary as they walk round. The fen is the largest remaining river valley fen in England and one of the most important wetlands in Europe.
Above, Eye church.
Wildlife on Diss Mere.