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.
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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. Main line locomotives and small stationery engines, traction engines, a decorated Victorian steam roundabout, and three narrow gauge railway rides are part of the attractions.
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—phootgrahs and documents—of the US 8th Air Force & 100th Bomb Group, housed in an old control tower. A link trainer and B-24 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.
Steam Museum and Gardens are 2 ½ miles west of Diss.
Tel. 0 1379 687386 for hours
100th Bomber Group Museum
signed from the A143, east side of Diss
Open weekends and bank holidays, 10-5pm; May to Sept also on Wed; closed Nov-Jan.
Photos courtesy of Ken Chapman, Diss website: Diss
Photos courtesy of Howard Stephens, Bressingham website: Bressingham