Eye, Strad­broke and Diss

Two towns and a vil­lage with a wealth of his­tory and nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment to discover

EADT Suffolk - - Explore -


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 jack­iespooner@bt­in­ter­net.com

March 10

Eye Bach Choir Con­cert Glo­ria! Eye par­ish church, Church Street, Eye 7:30 pm With the King­fisher Sin­foni­etta Tick­ets: tick­ets@eye­bach­choir.co.uk

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.

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