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Norfolk: Diss

William White's History, Gazetteer, and Directory of Norfolk 1845

[Transcription copyright Ann Duncan]

DISS, which gives name to this hundred, is a small but pleasant and well-built MARKET TOWN, on the acclivities of a deep lake, or mere, on the north side of the vale of the river Waveney, which divides it from Suffolk, 22 miles S.S.W. of Norwich, 23 miles N. by W. of Ipswich, and 91 miles N.E. by N. of London. The projected Ipswich and Norwich Railway is intended to pass through Diss, and it has been proposed to extend a railway from Diss to Beccles and Yarmouth.

The parish of Diss has increased its population, since the year 1801, from 2246 to 3205 souls, and contains 3382 acres of land; of which 243 acres were enclosed in 1814. The soil is generally fertile, belongs to a great number of proprietors, and lies in the four MANORS of Diss-cum-membris, Heywood, Heywood Hall, and the Rectory manor. Thomas L. Taylor, Esq., is lord of the first; the Earl of Albemarle, of the second; the trustees of the late Charles Layton, Esq., are lords of the third; and the Rector is lord of the fourth. The copyholds are all subject to arbitrary fines, and many of the owners are resident here, some in large and handsome mansions.

Heywood is a large district of farms, on the north side of the parish, extending to the distance of five miles, and having on its northern verge, Heywood Hall, now a farm-house, held by copy of court-roll, by the Rev. Temple Frere. The other hamlets are Walcot Green, 1 mile N.E., and Westby Green, 1 mile N.W.

The MERE, or lake, round which the town is built, is a large natural pool, having an outlet to the river, and supplied only by springs, rising from its own oozy bed, and by the rain and sewer water collected on its banks. This singular basin was formerly considered to be of unfathomable depth, and supposed by some to have been the crater of a volcano; but in 1835, it was carefully measured, and found to cover a surface of 5A. 1R. 11P., and to average in depth 17 feet, the greatest depth being 19 feet. Its muddy bottom is well stored with eels, and a rare fish called chasers, similar to the china carp found in Germany; having only three large scales, nearly on the dorsal fin.

As most of the sewers of the town have no other outlet than the lake, the water is considered unfit for culinary purposes, so that the inhabitants have been at much expense in sinking wells and pumps. The brewery, on the highest point of the town, is supplied by a well, sunk to the depth of 615 feet, of which 500 feet is through chalk, above which the water springs to within fifty feet of the surface, and is thence raised by a horse-pump, at the rate of 36 gallons per minute.

The chief part of the town is on the acclivities on the west and north sides of the mere, the steep banks of which are mostly laid out in ornamental gardens, forming a delightful contrast with the expansive sheet of water below, and the town above; especially when viewed from the south and east, where the banks are lower than on the other sides, and would be overflowed if the passage out of the mere was stopped up. Near the mere is Park House, the residence of Mr. Samuel Brook, lately erected in the Italian style.

The town is said to derive its name from the mere; Dise, or Diss, signifying, in the Saxon tongue, standing water, lake, or ditch. It has about a dozen streets, the principal of which are well paved, and have many neat houses and well-stocked shops. They were first lit with GAS in Dec., 1835, from the works erected by Messrs. J. and T. Whaite, whose gasometer is on the telescope principle, and, when all its sliding joints are extended, it will contain 2200 cubic feet of gas.

The MARKET, held every Friday, for the sale of corn, swine, provisions, &c., is held in a small square, and the open street, extending from the church to Scole road. A large FAIR is held on November 8th, upon the large green at the foot of Cock street; where a lamb fair is held on the first Friday in July.

Diss was formerly noted for the manufacture of "Suffolk hempen cloth," worsted yarn, and knit hosiery; but when the hand-loom commissioners were here, some years ago, they found only one manufacturer, giving out materials for sheeting, drabbets, &c.; and the business is now wholly discontinued. Weaver's Hall, at the Saracen's Head, was formerly the great mart, for the hempen linen manufactured in the town and the surrounding villages.

Here are two large breweries, and several windmills; a Book Club, formed in 1777; and a Subscription Library and Scientific Institution, commenced in 1828, and now having more than 1000 volumes.

The early annals of Diss are barren of all that is momentous; but we find that the plague raged here in the year 1579; and in 1640, the town suffered by an alarming fire, which was ultimately quenched by an ample supply of water carried out of the mere.

The CHURCH (Virgin Mary,) is a large and handsome Gothic structure, consisting of a nave, chancel, aisles, north and south porch, and a square tower at the west end, containing a peal of eight bells, cast by Mr. Dobson, of Downham, and put up January 6, 1832, in place of the old peal of six. The tenor weighs 24 cwt., and is in the key of D natural. The peal is allowed to be as musical and perfect as any in the kingdom. A set of chimes play upon the bells every four hours, viz., at 4, 8, and 12.

The church was founded by the Fitzwalters, one of whom was Sir Robt. Fitzwalter, who eminently distinguished himself in the reign of King John. That monarch, because he could not obtain the knight's consent to gratify an illicit passion he entertained for his daughter, Matilda, surnamed the Fair, banished the father, and afterwards caused the daughter to be poisoned.

The heads of the cleristory windows are neither round, pointed, nor flat, but the arch is formed by a waving line. At the west end of the aisles are two chapels, anciently belonging to the Guilds of Corpus Christi and St. Nicholas.

The rectory, valued in the King's Book at 33. 6s. 8d., is in the patronage and incumbency of the Rev. Wm. Mauning [sic], M.A., who has about 12A. of glebe, a large Rectory House, and a yearly rent of 903, recently awarded in lieu of tithes; but of this 200 is absorbed by the parochial rates.

There are in the town six Dissenters' chapels; two belonging to the Baptists, and one each to the Wesleyans, Independents, Unitarians, and the Society of Friends; but only one family of the latter sect is now resident here. The present Independent Chapel is a handsome building, erected in 1839, at the cost of 2000, and has a good organ. The Unitarian Chapel was built in 1822, and is licensed for marriages. The Wesleyan Chapel was rebuilt in 1833, by a congregation formed in 1799, and adjoining it is a large school, erected in 1819.

Here is a National School, and also a British School, for children of both sexes; and a Clothing Charity, was established in 1842. At the King's Head, is a large and handsome Assembly Room. Petty Sessions are held at this Inn, as noted at page 710 [ This is the entry for Diss Hundred ].

The TOWN ESTATE, which has been held in trust since the reign of Elizabeth, for repairing the church and streets, and other public uses in Diss, consists of the Guildhall, let for 25, and a farm of 95A. 3R. 31P. at Framlingham, in Suffolk, let for 120 a year. More than half of these rents are applied to the use of the church, and the remainder in improving the streets, &c. From 1830 to 1833, about 250 was applied by the trustees to the rebuilding of Cock street bridge.

Vested with the same trustees were eight Almshouses, which were taken down a few years ago, for the purpose of enlarging the churchyard. These tenements, for eight poor widows, were given by Richard Fisher, in 1601, and repaired out of the rent of the town estate. Apartments have been provided for the eight almspeople, in the building, which was erected as the parish Workhouse, in 1730, and in which there is a large Committee Room, decorated with a full-length portrait of the worthy rector, painted by Thomas Roods, Esq., of London, at the expense of a numerous list of subscribers.

The CHURCH ESTATE consists of several small parcels of land, at Penning's Green, Walcot, and Roydon, let for 9. 1s. 8d. a year, which is applied in the service of the church. In 1833, 462 was borrowed to make up a deficiency which had arisen from having the church bells re-cast.

Two cottages, called Town Houses, were given by Robert Buxton and John Notley, in 1715 and 1757. A close of 1A., called Bell Acre, was purchased for the poor with 24 benefaction money, in 1596, and is now let for about 7 a year, which is distributed in bread, with the following yearly doles:- 18 from 6A. of land, purchased with 100 left by Wm. Burton, in 1705; 20s. from a piece of waste ground, called Cock street Fairstead Green; 25s. as a rent-charge left by Wm. Camell, in 1700; 11s. charged on land at Stradbroke, by Richmond Girling, in 1658; and 20s. a year left by Ralph Chapman, in 1618. A house and meadow, formerly called the Unicorn, were charged by Wm. Pettit, in 1727, with the yearly payments of 10s. for the poor of Diss; 10s. for the repairs of the south porch, 10s. for a sermon, and 1s. each for the clerk and sexton.

In the following DIRECTORY OF DISS , those marked 1, reside in Brook street; 2, Chapel street; 3, Cherrytree lane; 4, Church street; 5, Cock street; 6, Cock street green; 7, Crown street; 8, Half-Moon street; 9, Heywood; 10, Market place; 11, Mere street; 12, Mount street; 13, Scole road; 14, Shelfanger road; 15, Walcot green; 16, Westby green; and 17, in St. Nicholas street.

The POST-OFFICE is at Miss Mary Ann Musgrave's. Letters are despatched to London, &c., at half-past 7 evening; to Bury, &c., at half-past 5 evening; and to Norwich, &c., at four morning, via Scole.

	17 Abbot      Theophilus        banker's clerk and accountant
	11 Aldis      Rev James         (Wes. min.)
	12 Baldwin    Wm.               clog, &c. maker
	 7 Bardwell   Mr Wm. and
	                Miss Har.
	 7 Barkham    Mr  Thomas
	12 Barkway    John              clog, &c. maker
	 4 Brown      Charles           vety. surgeon
	 6 Bryant     Edmund            clothes dealer
	   Buckingham James             chimney sweep
	 2 Burrows    Robert            clerk
	11 Button     Wm. Fredk.        postmaster at the King's Head
	 6 Calver     James             book-keeper
	15 Calver     Mrs Eliz          [see note below]
	 4 Clarke     Mary              [see note below]
	   Cobb       Mary Ann          toy dealer
	 6 Cotman     Ts.               corn inspector & regr.
	 7 Cook       James             sack manufacturer
	 4 Curson     Mrs My.           [see note below]
	13 Curtis     Henry             horse dealer
	   Darby      Mrs Eliz.         [see note below]
	11 Drewett    Rev Wm.           (Wes. min.)
	   Dyson      Thos. Esq.        banker & brewer
	12 Eaton      Mrs Sarah         Mount street
	 7 Farrow     Samuel            chief constable
	13 Field      Rev Joseph        (Indpt. min.)
	10 Fincham    Robert, Esq.      banker
	 4 Galloway   Atchison          excise officer
	 6 Garrard    Mrs Dinah
	11 Girling    Nathaniel         solr.'s clerk
	17 Gray       Frederick Wm.     organist
	 7 Harrison   Wm.               house, &c. agent
	13 Haynes     Mr Henry
	11 Holmes     John              dyer
	17 Legood     Mrs Eliz.         [see note below]
	 3 Lewis      Rev John Philip   (Bapt.)
	17 Long       Caroline          music teacher
	   Manning    Rev Wm. M.A.      Rectory
	13 Manning    Miss Frances      Cottage
	11 Marsh      Sar.              [see note below]
	 6 McCammon   Rev Fras.         (Unitarn.)
	11 Mines      Edward, Esq.      Terrace
	   Morris     Rev Thomas Brooke,
                        M.A.            rector of Shelfanger
	 4 Moyce      Mr Rt.            [see note below]
	17 Nice       Mrs.              glover, &c
	 4 Nunn       Robert            solicitor's clerk
	 2 Parr       Robert            sexton and organist
	 7 Parsley    Mrs M.A.          [see note below]
	   Plummer    John              gent. Rose Cottage
	   Powis      Rev Henry D.      (Wes. min.)
	17 Rayner     Robert            hay & straw dlr
	12 Redgrave   John              solicitor's clerk
	 4 Rix        John Blofield     bank clerk
	12 Robinson   Mr John Thomas
	12 Shelverton Mr John
	10 Simpson    Zach.             banker's clerk
	 4 Slack      Richard           vety. surgeon
	13 Smith      Mark              botanist
	12 Smith      Thomas            solicitor's clerk
	12 Taylor     Miss Mary         gentlewoman
	   Thorn      John              excise officer
	11 Ward       Rev Charles, M.A. curate
	 4 Welham     Robert            solicitor's clerk
	 9 Williams   Mr Southby        gentleman, Walcott Hall
	10 Womack     Miss Mary Ann
	   Watson     Elizabeth
Note: in the original these entries are written:-
     15 Calver Mrs Eliz || 4 Clarke Mary
       4 Curson Mrs My. || Darby Mrs Eliz.
     17 Legood Mrs Eliz. || 11 Marsh Sar.
       4 Moyce Mr Rt. || 7 Parsley Mrs M.A.


	10 Oakes, Fincham, Bevan, & Moor, (on Barclay and Co.)
	10 Taylor and Dyson, (on Barnett, Hoare, and Co.)


	12 Browne     George F.         Pelican
	 6 Cotman     Thomas            Royal Farmers
	 7 Crowe      Jas.              Norwich Equitable
	10 Eldridge   J.U.              Fam. Endowment
	12 Heffill    Henry             Norwich Union
	12 Norton     Edward            Promoter
	 4 Rix        J.B.              Suffolk Amicable


	10 Ayton      Charles           Bell
	11 Berrett    Benjamin          Cross Keys
	 7 Brooks     James             Bee Hive
	 8 Buckingham Timy.             Half Moon
	10 Calver     Ann               Star
	 7 Chapman    John              Greyhound
	13 Chapman    Wm.               White Hart
	 7 Church     Sarah             Chequers
	 3 Crowe      Eliza             Cherry Tree
	12 Edwards    Fras.             Saracen's Head
	 4 Garrett    Nathaniel         Dolphin
	14 Goold      Philip            Ship
	10 Maplestone Jane              King's Head Inn (posting,)
	 6 Payne      Jonathan          Cock
	11 Rayner     Philip            Sun
	 7 Shaw       John              Two Brewers
	10 Stowers    Samuel            White Horse
	 7 Wincup     Robert B.         Crown & Commercial
ACADEMIES. Bakers. Bird John 11 Baxter Margt. 11 Billings Mrs Mary 4 Cattermole Isc. & Miss Alice 6 Cobb Charles 12 Cuthbert Cornelius Driver Harriet 4 Fulcher Maria 6 Frost John 6 Herne Edward 10 Juby Thomas 7 Legood Eliz. 12 Scrivener Rd. 4 Nunn Edward Cooke 11 Shepherd H. 4 Tripp Eliza 6 Whiting Robt. 13 Tucker Jas. 12 Whitby Saml. James ATTORNEYS. Basket Makers. 11 Brook John Calver 11 Berrett Benj. 12 Browne Geo. Frederick 6 Shemend Robt. 12 Heffill (Hy.) & Norton (Edward) 12 Muskett John (coroner and clerk to magistrates) Beer Houses. 11 Taylor Thos. Lombe Wallace (Thos. Edw.) 11 Barrett Philip & Lyus (Geo.) Terrace 7 Church Sarah 13 Easto Richd. Auctioneers. 6 Ellis James 9 Fordham John 17 Alger Cleer Sewell 6 Froud David (and surveyor) 16 Levi Samuel 17 Elliott Wm. Waller 9 Moore Mary 11 Gostling Ths. 13 Payne John
Blacksmiths. Brewers and Maltsters. 12 Blomfield Jas. 4 Baker Geo. C. 12 Garrett Nath. 7 Cuthbert Hy. 11 Goold Philip 6 Farrow Chas. 3 Haywood Hy. 7 Taylor 12 Reeve Abslm. & Dyson 2 Slack Richard Woolnough Wm. (Parkfields) 12 Towel Wm. Booksellers, Printers, &c. Brush Makers. 11 Abbott Edw. 7 Aldrich Robt. 11 Gostling Thos. 7 Broad George 7 Todd John Boot & Shoe Mkrs. Bricklayers. 13 Barker Ebzr. 7 Downing Robt. 10 Bloomfield W. 7 Garrard Robt. 4 Bloomfield Jas. 13 Houchen Geo. 11 Hammond W. 12 Hubbard Spha 7 Haywood Thos. 7 Rout John 7 Knowles Saml. 12 Welham Hy. 17 Legood Eliz. 12 Pierce Thos. 4 Ready Richd. Braziers & Tinrs. Butchers. 11 Brook Saml. 10 Baker George 11 Bryant Robt. 7 Browning My. 13 Smith Saml. 12 Leggett John 10 Loocock Jas. 11 Plummer Edm. 7 Robinson Jas. 3 Sandy Samuel 10 Tyrrell Geo.
Cabinet Makers and Joiners. 10 Barkham Wm. Henry 12 Battel Wm. 7 Harrison Wm. 7 Parker John Chemists & Dgsts 11 Cupiss Fras. (oil & colourman, vety. surgeon, & propr. of the constitutional horse balls) 10 Eldridge Jas.
Corn and Coach Makers. Coal Merchants. 11 Garrett Nathl. 4 Baker George Clarke Garrett Sylvester Bond 13 Chaplyn Wm. 7 Lait Thomas 11 Cutting John 11 Lait Charles 6 Levick Wm. Confectioners. Corn Millers. 17 Alger James 13 Chaplyn Wm. 10 Browning Sl. 3 Cornell Saml. 11 Baxter Ann 9 Ellis Stimpson 11 Berrett Philip 13 Jay Thomas 11 Leeder Sampn. 11 Leathers Chas. Jay 6 Whiting Wm. 6 Pike Henry 13 Rush Thomas Coopers. Curriers, &c. 11 Berrett Benj. 4 Baldwin John 7 Burch Thomas 10 Leech John 4 Harvey Martin
FARMERS (* are owners.) 9 Booty Rhoda 9 Harbourd Wm. 9 Chapman Geo. 9 Johnson James 9 Coe Charles 9*Murton Robt. 9*Ellis Stimpson 9 Murton R. jun. 13*Ellis Robert 9 Newdick Wm. 9 Ellis Henry 9*Palmer George 9 Esling John 13 Payne Nunn 13*Fincham Jas. 9 Pim Wm. 9 Fisher Ann 9*Smith Edmund 15 Fulcer Isaac 9 Smith John 12 Fulcher Hy. 9 Stollery Chas. 9 Fordham John 9 Tacon Joseph 9 Grant John 9 Well Fredk.
Gardeners. GROCERS. 2 Cornell Wm. 17 Aldrich Robt. 13 Goldsmith Mk. 11 Alger James 7 Gooderam Edw. 17 Alger Charles 7 Parker Richd. 10 Browning Sl. 11 Burrows Gibson Lucas Glass & China 7 Churchyard Rt. Dealers. 13 Chaplyn Wm. 10 Cory John Sendall 17 Alger Charles 6 Cotman Thos. 10 Cory John. S. 7 Crowe James 11 Gostling Thos. 8 Read John 3 Sandy Samuel 7 Spelman Geo. 4 Witting Chas.
Gunsmith. Iron Founders & Machine Mkrs. 11 Mallett John 12 Swootman W. Hair Dressers. 10 Whaite J. & T. 10 Burrows Bdly. Iron Merchant. 11 Chaplyn Wm. (ornamental) 6 Sandy Stephen 11 Brook Saml. 10 Whitehead Rt. Ironmongers. Hosier & Worsted 11 Brook Saml. Manufacturer. 8 Lines John 10 Whaite John and Thos. 17 Leech Thos. (gas fitters)
Painters, Plumbers, Joiners & Buldrs & Glaziers. 12 Angold Henry 12 Aldrich John 2 Atkins George 11 Cobb Andrew 11 Cobb Samuel 11 Cobb Samuel 7 Farrow Joseph 11 Coe Jno. & Jrvs 7 Farrow Thos. 4 Evinson Robt. 12 Porcher Thos. 12 Hunting Wm. 10 Whaite J.&T. Linen & Woollen Drapers. Porter Merchts. 10 Blake Jno. G. 11 Berrett Philip 8 Bobby Jas. Horatio 11 Berrett Thos. (Norfolk House) 10 Bulwer Wm. Saddlers. 17 Chamberlain and Son 17 Church Wm. 10 Cracknell Jno. Smith 7 Terry James 7 Debenham Ed. 17 Walne Belnda. 17 Eglinton Sml. 10 Hall Wm. Milliners. Stone Masons. 12 Cooper Hanh. 4 Alger Charles 12 Elsey Jane 7 Farrow Thos. 17 Legood M.A. (& timber dlr.) 7 Turner Eliz.
Straw Hat Mkrs. Turners. (Wood) 7 Knowles Rachl. 7 Meadows Robt. 12 Martin J. 3 Tipple George 12 Towel Eliz. 12 Youels Har. Surgeons. Watchmakers. 7 Harrison Php. 6 Dove John 11 Haydon Hy. Phippard (& umbrella mfr.) 12 Mines Wm. 10 Marsh Wm. 11 Rose Fdk. Rt. 10 Scrivener Edward Keer 7 Thompson Chs. 11 Taylor Dennis 7 Ward Henry 17 Whitrod Benj. Tailors. Wheelwrights. 7 Andrews Wm. 13 Everett Robt. 12 Bailey Mark 12 Kerry Jonth. 7 Bond George 4 Nicholson Terah 11 Bryant Danl. (par. clk.) 11 Cooper David 17 Eglinton Sol. Wine and Spirit Merchants. 7 Goold Philip 7 Hague Wm. 7 Cuthbert Hy. 7 Lait Thomas 10 Browning Sl. 7 Lait T. jun. 6 Farrow Chas. 17 Stannard Rt. 7 Taylor 12 Towel Robert & Dyson 13 Trudgill Chas. Woolnough Wm. (Parkfields)

From the King's Head to Norwich, 6 evg.; to London, 11 mg.; to Cambridge, p. 12 noon; to Yarmouth, p. 11 mg., and p. 3 aft.; and to Bury, p. 3 aft.

From the Crown, every Sat., to Norwich, bef. 8 mng., and to Botesdale, p. 7 evening.


To London, Norwich, &c., Deacon and Co.'s Vans from the King's Head; S. Noller's Van from the Crown; and Salter and Co.'s Van from the Star, three days a week.
Attlebro', J. Johnson, Tuesday.
Botesdale. &c., Bidwell, from the Greyhound, Friday.
Harleston, Jas. Reeve, from the Saracen's Head, Monday.
Hopton, Jas. Brock, from the Dolphin, Friday.
Ipswich, N Garrett, from the Dolphin, twice a week.
New Buckenham, J. Hewitt, from the Bell, Thursday.
Norwich, (see London, &c.,) and Nunn Payne, from Scole road, and John Brown, Tues. and Fri.; also N. Garrett from the Dolphin, twice a week.
Thetford, Clark from the Greyhound, and Miller from the Star, Friday.

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See also the Diss parish page.

Copyright Pat Newby.
August 2001