Ten great reasons to visit Bungay
PUBLISHED: 16:03 08 March 2010 | UPDATED: 16:50 20 February 2013
Ten great reasons to visit the market town Bungay, Norfolk.
Ten great reasons to visit Bungay
The picturesque market town of Bungay is steeped in history and legend, as Victoria Nicholls reveals.
1 Bungay Castle
The historical feel of the town is evoked by the visible remains of Bungays castle. Although much has been lost over the years, two impressive stone gatehouse towers and part of the curtain wall still stand, dating back to the 12th century. Entrance is via the modern visitors centre, which opened in 2000 and includes a nice teashop.
Theres no shortage of places to go if you fancy a hot cuppa while watching the world go by. The Buttercross Tea Rooms is a great spot to seek refuge on a drizzly day over a cup of something hot, a homemade cake or a hearty fry-up. The Earsham Street Cafe has a more upmarket feel, offering an interesting menu and an emphasis on quality service.
3 Fisher Theatre
This classy intimate venue is the result of a huge community restoration project and the source of much pride for the volunteers who helped set it up and now run it. The theatre has a year-round programme and draws some big names on the entertainment circuit, with Strictly Come Dancing sensation John Sergeant and comedian Arthur Smith both putting in sell-out performances at this 160-seat venue in recent months.
4 Historic businesses
Bungay has a wealth of long-established businesses, one of the finest examples being Nursey and Son, a 200-year-old firm selling hand-made sheepskin clothes, where skills of the craft have been passed down through the generations. The Three Willows Garden Centre is another popular family-run business run by the Watts, following on from Edgar Watts cricket bat willow business which operated for 90 years. The garden centre has recently relocated to a more modern site in Flixton Road and its got its very own tearooms.
5 Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum, Flixton
Located just outside Bungay, this museum is well worth a stop-off for a dose of history. The sprawling museum is a testament to the dedication of a knowledgeable bunch of volunteers who have amassed a wealth of aircraft, equipment and memorabilia. The museum is recognised as East Anglias aviation heritage centre, and its volunteers also go out into the community with educational projects, with the emphasis on remembering local people and events. Entry is free but donations help safeguard the museums future, so be generous!
6 Bungay Pool
A trip to the heated pool will keep restless youngsters happy. A shallow pool for toddlers and an impressive 40ft slide makes it a pretty good option for children of all ages.
7 The Buttercross and shopping
The Buttercross is the towns historical meeting place and the focal point for celebrations through the year, which include the Pumpkin Night at Halloween and the Christmas fair. Bungay hosts a curious yet charming array of shops selling antiques, books and hand-made jewellery, best discovered by simply wandering. Small independent traders are still the order of the day which makes for interesting shopping. Market day is Thursday and dont be caught out by early closing on Wednesdays.
Bungay has some mighty fine traditional pubs. The Castle Inn has made a name for itself food-wise in the past couple of years, making it into the Michelin Eating Out in Pubs guide 2010 thanks to its fresh, seasonal dishes. Other popular drinking spots include the Fleece Inn, Chequers Inn, Green Dragon and the Kings Head. Bungay is also home to St Peters Brewery at St Peters Hall, which was established in 1996 and offers a range of organic ciders and ales.
9 Walking and cycling
Located on the River Waveney, Bungay is a great base for walking and cycling routes across the valley, with Godric Way (a 24-mile cycle route) and Bigod Way (walking trails) being good options for those with a strong pair of legs.
The Common and golf course are also popular spots for a little winter exercise, and if you make it out to Ditchingham look out for those famous chickens on the roundabout (though the mystery of their dwindling numbers over the past year continues to puzzle locals).
10 History and legends
Ask about local legends and anyone from Suffolk will respond with two words: Black Shuck. The tales of this ghostly dog-like beast, blamed for deaths at two churches, including Bungays 15th century St Marys on a stormy night in 1577, continues to spook visitors. But the Bungay Black Dog Running Club is made of stern stuff, taking on its identity as its emblem and attracting big numbers to its annual marathon in April.
Bungay town pictures