The Great Fire of Bungay

Published: 24th May 2011
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The east of England has a lot of wonderful and exciting places to visit and even to live in, and most of them are still telling ancient stories about the Romans or old tales about Old England and its people, dating back centuries ago. Bungay makes no exceptions either; located in the lands of East Anglia, England, in the Waveney valley at about seven kilometers west of Beccles. It is part of The Broads National Park.

'Bunincga-haye' is the Anglo-Saxon title meaning “the land belonging to the tribe of Bonna” (a Saxon chieftain), and it is thought to be the original name of Bungay. There is proof that the Romans occupied these lands and transformed them into their military station, thanks to the wonderful defensive position of the site. The many important Roman artifacts that were found in the area are enough evidence to prove the presence of Romans there; it is said that once the Romans returned to their lands back in the 5th century, the Saxon tribes invaded Britain. The expanded boundaries of Bungay are thus explained by the presence of the large burial site that dates back in the 6th-7th century, and which is located in the Joyce Road area.

The great fire in 1688 almost destroyed Bungay. The most important buildings in Bungay include the Buttercross located in the centre of the village; the Buttercross was built in 1689 and it represented the meeting place for local farmers who sold their butter and other farm products. The Corn Cross had similar attributes, but it was taken down by a pump. The castle in Bungay is another important tourist attraction; having been built by the Normans and later rebuilt by Roger Bigod, the Castle was chosen as the village’s sign. Another important construction in Bungay is represented by the Church of St Mary and it guards a peculiar event in the life of the village, referred to as the Black Shuck, when the ghostly hound Black Shuck (or the Black Dog of Bungay) is said to have killed 2 villagers, during a service at the Church of St Mary. The claimed event left a strong impression on people, who started an annual marathon called "The Black Dog Marathon;" also, the local football club Bungay Town is nicknamed the "Black Dogs". Bungay also features the Godric Cycling Club, which is known for the yearly events it organizes.

As for the more modern history of the place, the impressively large number of antique shops, food outlets, hairdressers and pubs are worth mentioning. Bungay is full of them, and there are also a lot of specialist shops and local firms.

Some of the most notable people who lived in Bungay are the Strickland family and the three daughters of the family who were all writers, Thomas Miller, who was a bookseller and a antiquarian, or novelist Sir H. Rider Haggard, who displayed a wooden panel in St Mary’s Church. Religious writer Margaret Barber and the author of the best-selling book of meditations, The Roadmender, was also part of Bungay, as well as singer Charlie Winston or author Elizabeth Jane Howard.

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