St Mary's Church, Diss (c) Adrian Cable
St Mary's church, Diss

by Barbara Ballard

Old courtyards and twisty streets lend character to the old market town of Diss, in Norfolk. Designated a conservation area, its mixture of Tudor, Georgian and Victorian buildings adds to its historical importance. One of the two old town centres, Fair Green, shows off its 17th and 18th-century cottages and homes. Many homes in the town have tiled roofs. St Mary's Church looks over Mere Street, the shopping area.

The fair, granted a Royal Charter in 1185, was closed in 1872. Typical of most of England's fairs, its rowdiness forced its closure by the government. Diss had the last working corn market in the country. Its Corn Hall, with its classical portico, was built in 1854. More serene markets are still held today on Fridays along with large antique and art auctions.

The history of the area is highlighted in the museum in the old Shambles building in Market Square. Railroad lovers will want to visit the nearby Bressingham Steam Museum and Gardens. Mainline locomotives and small stationary engines, traction engines, a decorated Victorian steam roundabout, and three narrow-gauge railway rides are part of the attractions.

The Diss town sign (c) Colin Park
The Diss town sign

The six-acre gardens contain 47 perennial beds, lawns, and trees. There are more than 5000 plant varieties on show. The 100th Bomber Group Museum contains memorabilia, photographs and documents-of the US 8th Air Force & 100th Bomb Group, housed in an old control tower. A link trainer and B24 tail turret are part of the site.

The old market town of Diss on the edge of Norfolk is most noted for its Mere. The six-acre mere is the result of the Ice Age and the rock structure of the area. Underlying chalk bedrock collapsed under the weight of the ice forming a 60-foot deep hollow that then collected water. Once used as a reservoir and a town drain, it now serves for recreational purposes for man and waterfowl. Farming is still an important industry in the area.

Essential Information

100th Bomber Group Museum signed from the A143, east side of Diss.

Photos © Adrian Cable and Colin Park, reproduced with gratitude under a Creative Commons license.

© Barbara Ballard. Reproduction of this work in whole or in part, including images, and reproduction in electronic media, without documented permission from the author is prohibited.

About Diss
Address: Diss, Norfolk, England
Attraction Type: Town
Location map
OS: TM 1220 8071
Photo Credit: Richard Slessor, licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence


HeritageWe've 'tagged' this attraction information to help you find related historic attractions and learn more about major time periods mentioned.

Historic Time Periods:


Find other attractions tagged with:

13th century (Time Period) - 15th century (Time Period) - 18th century (Time Period) - Decorated (Architecture) - Edwardian (Historical Reference) - Georgian (Time Period) - Henry VII (Person) - Henry VIII (Person) - Tudor (Time Period) - Victorian (Time Period) -


Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest

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