Bungay St. Mary and Bungay Trinity
Bongeia, Bunghea or Bonnagaie
This town stood on an island by the river Waveney, anciently called "Le Bon
Eye," or "The Good Island." It was a borough, and the lordship of it belonged to
the family of the Bigods, Earls of Norfolk; one or more of whom erected a Castle
here: which, during the intestine commotions in the turbulent reign of King
Stephen, was so strongly fortified by Hugh Bigod, and stood in such an
advantageous situation, as to have been deemed impregnable.
On the accession of King Henry II., this nobleman, however, who had invariably
espoused the cause of Stephen, was obliged to give a large sum of money, with
sufficient hostages, to save this Castle from destruction. He afterwards joined
in the rebellion of Henry's eldest son, against his father, and was deprived by
the King, of this Castle, as well as that of Framlingham: but they were both
restored, with his other estates and honours, to his son and heir; whose
posterity held them for several generations. Hugh Bigod deceased in 1225.
In the reign of King Henry III., this Castle was demolished; and in the 10th of
Edward I., Roger Bigod, Earl of Norfolk, obtained license to embattle his house,
erected on the site of the ancient Castle. He endowed Alice, his second wife,
daughter of John de Avanne, Earl of Henault, with this manor; and having no
children, settled all his castles, towns, manors, and possessions, on King
Edward and his heirs. The Earl deceased in 1305.
The castle, borough, and lordship of this town, are supposed to have been given
by that Monarch, to his fifth son, Thomas de Brotherton, Earl of Norfolk; and to
have been carried, by the marriage of his daughter and co-heiress, into the
family of the Uffords. Alice, sister, and co-heir with Margaret, daughter of the
said Thomas de Brotherton, by Alice his first wife, daughter of Sir Roger Halys,
of Harwich, Knt, married Sir Edmund de Montacute (or Montague); whose daughter
and heiress, Joan, was born at Bungay, on Candlemas day, 1348: she was wife to
"William de Ufford, Earl of Suffolk.
In the 2nd of King Edward III., Bardolf's manor, in Bungay Trinity, and Ilketsal
St. Lawrence, with that of Clopton, was obtained by Elizabeth de Burgh, the
relict of Roger de Amorie, for herself, for life; the remainder to John, Lord
Bardolf, and Elizabeth his wife (who was her daughter by the said Roger); in
exchange for the manors of Kennington and Frankshall, in Surry. Sir William
Windham Calling, Bart., of Earsham Hall, in Norfolk, is the present owner of
Bungay contains two parish churches, St. Mary and the Holy Trinity; besides
which there was formerly a third, dedicated to St. Thomas, which has been long
since demolished. St. Mary's is a stately structure; and with its beautiful
steeple, containing a peal of eight bells, is a great ornament to the town. The
market-place formerly contained two market crosses: the Corn Cross1
has been taken down since 1810.
The remains of the Convent of St. Cross are seen between the present churches.
It was of the Benedictine order, and founded by Roger de Glanville, and the
Countess Gundreda his wife, about the year 1160; who endowed it with lands,
benefices, and revenues, which were increased by several benefactions, at
various periods; and the whole endowments were confirmed to the Prioress and
sisters, by King Henry III.
It was dedicated to the honor of God, of the blessed Virgin Mary, and of the
Holy Cross; and the gross value in "Valor Ecclesiasticus," is 72 19s. 3d. John
de Bedingfield, Prior of Aldeby, in Norfolk, was appointed by the Prior of
Norwich, in 1355, to take the confessions, to absolve, and to enjoin the
penances, of the Prioress and nuns of this Priory.
In the 1st of King Henry IV., Thomas de Mowbray, Duke of Suffolk, held on the
day of his decease, as of fee, of our Sovereign Lord, Richard II., late King of
England, the advowson of the Priory of Bungay. There were certain rents of salt,
at Tyrington, in Norfolk, payable by divers persons there, who held of the fee
of Sir William de Tyrington, to the Prioress of St. Cross, in this town, namely:
of Walter de Marham, for one messuage, three acres and a half, in his croft, two
combs of salt, &c.
The sum of 12s. 4d. was annually expended in this Monastery in alms to the poor,
on the anniversary of Gundreda, Countess of Norfolk, who was considered the
foundress; and also for wax lights to burn about her tomb, on the same day. In
the time of King Edward I., here was a Prioress, and fifteen sisters: Cecilia
Fastolf, the Prioress, and eleven nuns, at the dissolution; when it was granted
to Thomas, Duke of Norfolk, A.D. 1537. The present possessor is Wolfran Lewis,
Esq., and others.2
Thomas de Bungeia (or Bungeye), who died about 1290, was a native of this town;
and being educated amongst the Franciscan friars, at Norwich, was sent to
Oxford, and there admitted Doctor of Divinity; after which he became Professor
of Theology at that University; being well qualified for that high employment.
He was an eminent mathematician, and so well skilled in the secrets of nature
and art, that he was considered by many as a conjuror and wizard. He succeeded
John Bungeye, D.D., who appears to have been his brother, as Minister Provincial
of England; and published a work on Natural Magic, and some other things.
Mrs. Elizabeth Bonhote, authoress of several popular works, "Frankley's
Rambles," "Olivia," "The Parental Monitor," "Bungay Castle," &c., was the wife
of Daniel Bonhote, Esq., solicitor of this town; whom Mrs. B. survived. She
deceased June 11, 1818, aged 74 years.
Thomas Miller, of this town, born in 1731, was at the usual period, apprenticed
to a respectable grocer, in Norwich; but a great fondness for reading, displayed
in very early life, induced him, on commencing business for himself, in 1755, to
unite book-selling with his other trade; and for the last thirty years previous
to his decease, he confined himself almost entirely to his favorite line. Mr.
Miller had his shop furnished with rare and valuable books, and possessed a
large collection of expensive portraits, and an extensive series of Roman and
English silver and brass coins.
In 1795, when it was the common custom for tradesmen to circulate provincial
coins, he had a die cast, which was very finely engraved, and bore a correct
profile likeness of himself. By an accident happening to one of the dies, when
only twenty-three pieces were struck off, and Mr. Miller declining to have a
fresh one made, the coin became very rare, and has been known to sell at from
three to five guineas. It is known to collectors by the name of "Miller's
He possessed a strong mind, and retentive memory; but his cultivated abilities
were hid in the confined circle in which he moved. During the latter years of
his life, he became blind; and, to the honor of Bungay, its inhabitants, who
appreciated his worth, shewed him every kind attention. He died June 25, 1804.
Nathaniel Godbold, inventor and original patentee of the famous "Vegetable
Balsam," was born at, or near this town, and apprenticed to a confectioner;
which trade he carried on many years, at Bungay, with credit. For several years
of his residence there, he used to prepare, for applicants only, a pectoral
medicine for the relief of recent coughs; which was very grateful and
efficacious in those cases, and most likely was the basis of the "Vegetable
Mr. Godbold, during the latter part of his residence in Bungay, speculated
rather largely in the purchase and resale of estates; he also built the present
Theatre there. He retired from business, and established himself in London,
between 1775 and 1780; and shortly after purchased an estate at Godalming, in
Surry, which had belonged to General Oglethorpe; consisting of a handsome house
in a park of about 100 acres, called "Westbrooke Place," the small manor of
Westbrooke, and some other lands. He repaired and fitted up the house, and
continued to reside there until his decease, which took place the 17th of Dec.,
1799; and his remains were deposited in the south aisle of Godalming church.
Mem. An inscription in Bungay Holy Trinity church, records, the decease
of Captain Thomas Stanton, in 1691; formerly commander of the good ship "Return
to and from Surat, in East India;" who, by his indefatigable industry, made the
said voyage in twelve months; and in his return, he fought and beat a Dutch man
of war, and brought the said ship, to his never dying fame, safe into the river
Thames. It is added, "the like not done by any since:" but, by our late
improvements in steam navigation, the wonder ceases.
CHARITIES. The town lands, and certain premises here, are vested in, or
under the management and order of the town-reeve, and feoffees of the town, or
town-lands of Bungay; are partly held in trust, for the common benefit and
general utility of the town of Bungay, and its inhabitants; and are partly
derived from, and applicable to the support of, particular charities, mentioned
The Grammar School. By indenture, dated the 16th January, 34th of Queen
Elizabeth, Thomas Popeson, A.M., schoolmaster at Bungay, granted to the Master,
Fellows, and Scholars, of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, a yearly rent of
£4, during the life of himself and his wife;
and after their decease, a yearly rent of £6:
and the then feoffees of the town lands, thereby also granted to the said
Master, Fellows, and Scholars, a yearly rent of £6.
And in consideration thereof, the Master, Fellows, and Scholars, covenanted that
they would allow to every scholar, placed in any of the ten Scholarships in
Emmanuel College, of the foundation of Sir Walter Mildmay, Knt., therein
mentioned, 4d. weekly: and that the ten scholars should have such privileges and
advantages as therein mentioned. By indenture, dated 20th April, in the above
year, reciting that the said Thomas Popeson, and the feoffees of the town lands,
for the good of the inhabitants of Bungay, had then in part made, and mean'd
further to make, provision for the perpetuity of a Free Grammar School within
that town; and certain messuages, land, and premises, were conveyed pursuant to
the covenant in this deed, by indenture of feoffment, of the 26th May, 1592. The
school premises consist of a dwelling house, containing several apartments, and
a schoolroom, and small playground adjoining.
Wingfield's Charity. In 1593, Thomas Wingfield devised
£170 to be laid out in the purchase of a
rent charge of £10 a year; and he directed
that out of the same the following payments should be made:
£5 a year for the help of necessitous people
in Bungay, 10s. a year for an anniversary sermon, 40s. a year for raising a
stock to be lent in small sums to tradesmen, and 10s. a year to be bestowed on
his funeral day, yearly, in good cheer, for such of the feoffees as should be
present; and the residue to the use of two poor scholars in Cambridge. In 1712,
Henry Webster devised his acre of land in Parnow Meadow, in Ditchingham, for
teaching poor children to read and write: and Henry Smith gave a portion of
rent, which for the year 1828, was £36 12s.
8d.; and the amount is distributed in bread among poor persons. Christian
Wharton, in 1577, by will, directed the persons enfeoffed of her five
almshouses, in the parish of the Holy Trinity, to dwell therein, and take the
profits of the same while they should dwell there. These alms-houses consist of
five small tenements under one roof, and are occupied rent free, by poor widows.
There are also church lands belonging to each parish, and several minor
charities; the aggregate amount of which, arising from various sources, is about
£470 per annum.
1. A representation of this Cross has been
engraved in the "Gentleman's Magazine," for 1810, parti., p. 425; with several
town Tokens, and the Seal of the Convent of St. Cross.
2. There are engraved illustrations of this
house: by Kirby, in 1/48; and Davy, in 1818.
Topographical and Genealogical, The County of Suffolk, 1844, Augustine Page