Many towns claim to be 'historic market towns', but there has been a market in the centre of Diss, for well over 500 years.
The town of Diss, which lies in the beautiful Waveney Valley, was established around one of the deepest natural inland lakes in the country.
The town may derive its name from the Saxon term for a 'lake' or 'ditch'; another possibility is that it is a Viking word meaning 'village of the dancing horse'. Diss has a number of finds which indicate people in the area from pre-historic times, including Stone Age and Bronze Age implements, but no specific settlement is known. Again, Roman pottery, metalwork and jewellery has been found but with no known town. Saxon brooches indicate settlement in that period, and by the time of the Domesday Book in 1088, a small but valuable settlement is recorded.
To the south-west of the town centre lies Fair Green which was first granted a Royal Charter in 1185 and such activities as bull baiting and cock fighting took place until the fair closed in 1872. The Green is now however, still the location for modern day travelling fairs and circuses.
Diss grew as a prosperous market town in the medieval period, operating as a market for cloth and linen thread. Recent research marks Diss out as having a specialist facility in the Mere, which many of the other market towns of East Anglia did not have. Commonly it is suggested that the linen industry dates back to the Medieval period but some supporting evidence suggests that this activity goes back for at least 1500 years.
The prosperity of the town was sufficient to build the present parish church of St Mary the Virgin in the 14th century, probably on the site of a previous Saxon church. The tower is dated to about 1300 whilst the nave in its current form from a century later.
The market area at Diss became colonised with other buildings over the years, with a chapel and a Guildhall at one end. Late medieval timber framed houses with jettied first floors are still to be seen.
The arrival of the railway when the Eastern Union opened the first station for passenger and freight usage in 1849 was important for the town. Malting was one of the industries which prospered because of the railway. Diss ceased being a freight centre in 1985 but its position on the busy Norwich-Ipswich-London line still remains.
Diss is also well worth visiting - a view supported by former poet laureate John Betjeman - not only because of the range of late medieval buildings but for the later Georgian and Victorian buildings. It houses a working corn hall with imposing classical portico, built in 1854 to a design by George Adams. The town has a good range of shops, information leaflets for the visitor and a town museum which allows further study of the town's history
Diss lies in the valley of the river Waveney around a lake (mere) that covers six acres. Diss is on the Norfolk/Suffolk border accessible by the A140 and A143.
ACTIVITIES & ATTRACTIONS
Go Ape! - tackle a high wire forest adventure course of rope bridges, Tarzan swings and zip slides high above the forest floor, crawl through tunnels and tackle high wire rope bridges. Go Ape! Has a minimum age of 10, minimum height of 1.4 metres (4ft7) and a Maximum weight of 130kg (20.5 stone). It is located at High Lodge Forest Centre, Thetford Forest, just off of the B1107
Banham Zoo – a fun filled day out, the zoo is home to almost 1000 animals from around the world including, Tigers, Giraffes, Zebras, Penguins and Camels, amongst others. Open daily from 10am, Banham Zoo is 25 minutes from Norwich, 45 minutes from Yarmouth on the B1113.
Bressingham Steam & Gardens – An attraction dedicated to times gone by, Bressingham boasts over five miles of narrow gauge steam railway, two restaurants and three different gardens. Located on the A1066, near Diss, in the small village of Bressingham.
UK Parachuting – Skydiving centre with over 30 years of experience in tandem skydiving and accelerated freefall courses. Located just outside Attleborough in Old Buckenham.
Broadland Balloon Flights – Operate scheduled balloon flights from Norwich and Eye (near Diss) on a daily basis, offering unrivalled views over Norfolk.
New Buckenham Castle – Here the remains of a Norman castle can be seen, a moat and massive ring-work surround the inner bailey and ruins of the circular flint keep. The castle is free entry and located on the B1113 (Castle Hill Road).
Old Buckenham Mill - The largest diameter corn mill in the UK built in 1818, the mill is now static but open to visitors free of charge. It is located just off the A11 near Attleborough on West Carr Road.
Peter Beales Rose Gardens – Three acres of Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Gold Medal winning varieties of rose, together with a bistro restaurant. Situated on London Road in Attleborough.
Knettishall Heath Country Park – 370 acres of Breckland Heath with picnic areas and walks along the river Ouse.
100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum – Housed in an original World War Two control tower the museum details the history of the 100th Bomb Group and 8th Air Force. Entry is free and the museum is open on Saturdays 10am to 4pm. Located in Dickleburgh on the A140 north of Diss.
Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015