Diss, Norfolk

Diss is a market town and electoral ward in South Norfolk, England, close to the border with Suffolk, with a population of 7,572 in 2011.[1] Diss railway station is on the Great Eastern Main Line from London to Norwich. The town lies in the valley of the River Waveney, round a mere covering 6 acres (2.4 ha) and up to 18 feet (5.5 m) deep, although there is another 51 feet (16 m) of mud.[2]

Saracen's Head, Diss - geograph.org.uk - 155955.jpg
The Saracen's Head pub
Diss Inner Flag.svg
Coat of arms of Diss Town Council
Diss is located in Norfolk
Location within Norfolk
Area5.32 km2 (2.05 sq mi)
Population7,572 (2011 census)
• Density1,423/km2 (3,690/sq mi)
OS grid referenceTM1180
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townDISS
Postcode districtIP22
Dialling code01379
AmbulanceEast of England
UK Parliament
List of places
52°22′52″N 1°06′28″E / 52.3812°N 1.1079°E / 52.3812; 1.1079Coordinates: 52°22′52″N 1°06′28″E / 52.3812°N 1.1079°E / 52.3812; 1.1079


The town takes its name from dic an Anglo-Saxon word meaning either ditch or embankment.[3] Diss has a number of historic buildings, including an early 14th-century parish church and an 1850s corn exchange still in operation.[4]

At the time of Edward the Confessor, Diss was part of the Hartismere hundred (a hundred was an administrative subdivision) of Suffolk, and it was recorded as such in the Domesday book. It is recorded as being in the king's possession as demesne (direct ownership) of the Crown, there being at that time a church and a glebe of 24 acres.

This was thought to be worth £15 per annum, which had doubled by the time of William the Conqueror to £30, with the benefit of the whole hundred and half belonging to it. It was then found to be a league long, around 3 miles (5 km) and half that distance wide, and paid 4d. in Danegeld. From this it appears that it was still relatively small, but it grew shortly afterwards when it subsumed Watlingsete Manor, a neighbouring area as large as Diss, and seemingly more populated according to the geld or tax that it paid. This was afterwards called Walcote,[clarification needed] and includes part of Heywode, as appears from its joining to Burston, into which the manor extended.[5]

Diss was granted by King Henry I to Richard de Lucy, prior to 1135. The Testa de Neville states that it was not known whether Diss was rendered unto Richard de Lucy as an inheritance or for his service, but states that it was doubtless for the latter. Richard de Lucy become Chief Justiciar to King Stephen and Henry II. In 1152 Richard de Lucy received the right to hold a market in Diss, and prior to 1161 he gave a third of a hundred of Diss (Heywood or Hewode) together with the market in frank marriage with his daughter Dionisia to Sir Robert de Mountenay. After Richard de Lucy's death in 1179, the inheritance of the other two parts of the hundred of Diss passed to his daughter Maud, who married Walter FitzRobert.[6]

The whole estate later fell into the hands of the Lordship of the FitzWalters, who were raised to Baron FitzWalter in 1295). In 1299 the then Lord FitzWalter obtained a charter of confirmation for a fair every year at his manor of Diss, to be held around the feast of Saint Simon and Jude (28 October) and several days after. A grant made in 1298 to William Partekyn of Prilleston (now Billingford) granted, for homage and half a mark of silver, two homesteads in Diss, with liberty of washing his wool and cloths in Diss Meer. This came on the express condition that the gross dye be washed off first. It seems as if the church of Diss was built by the same Lord, as his arms were cut into the stone of the south porch of the church several times.[5]

Soon after the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, Edward Plantagenet, Duke of York and Earl of Rutland, came to hold Diss manor, hundred, and market, together with Hemenhale; and the title of Lord FitzWalter became attached to the estate. It was part of a larger estate that included Hemenhale and Diss manors, with the hundred of Diss in Norfolk, the manors of Shimpling and Thorne in Suffolk, of Wodeham-Walter (now Woodham Walter), Henham, Leiden (now part of Leaden Roding), Vitring, Dunmow Parva (now Little Dunmow), Burnham (possibly the modern village of Burnham-on-Crouch), Winbush, and Shering (now Sheering) in Essex. Shortly afterwards, the estate was acquired by the Ratcliffe family, which inherited the title of Baron FitzWalter. The Ratcliffe family owned the land until at least 1732, styling themselves Viscounts FitzWalter.[5]

Opposite the 14th-century parish Church of St Mary the Virgin stands a 16th-century building known as the Dolphin House. This was one of the major buildings in the town, as its impressive dressed-oak beams denote. It was possibly a wool merchant's house. Formerly a pub, the Dolphin, from the 1800s to the 1960s, the building now houses some small businesses.[7]

Next to Dolphin House is the town's market place, the geographical and social centre of the town. The market is held every Friday (except Good Friday and other holidays, when it is rescheduled to Thursday): a variety of local traders sell fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, fish and cheeses. It was first granted a charter by Richard the Lionheart. The town's post office and main shopping street, Mere Street, are also located by the marketplace.

Early in 1871, alterations were made to a house in Mount Street about 100 yards (100 m) north of the parish church. As workmen removed the brick flooring of a ground-floor room and dug out soil to insert the joists of a boarded floor, they found a hoard of over 300 coins in the centre, about 18 inches (50 cm) from the surface. All were silver but for two fine gold nobles.[8]

Four miles east of Diss is the 100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum at the former RAF Thorpe Abbotts airfield.[9]

In March 2006, Diss became the third town in the UK to join Cittaslow, an international body promoting the concept of "Slow Towns".[10] However, it has since left this.[11]

A railway journey from London to Diss is the subject of a poem by Sir John Betjeman: "A Mind's Journey to Diss". He also made a short documentary film in 1964 entitled Something about Diss.[12]

Place name sign in Diss


Diss has at least nine churches. They include the Anglican parish church dating from the 13th century,[13] the Catholic (St Henry Morse), and Methodist, Baptist and community churches.[14]

Sport and activitiesEdit

The town's sporting organisations include Diss Town FC and Diss RFC, based in nearby Roydon. Diss has produced national and international sports stars, three footballers (see Notable people), and the Great Britain judo team member Colin Oates, who attended Diss High School. The town also has a squadron of Royal Air Force Air Cadets and a squadron of Army Cadets.[15][16]

Notable peopleEdit

In order of birth:


  1. ^ "Town and Ward population 2011". Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  2. ^ "A HIGH-RESOLUTION RECORD OF MIDHOLOCENE CLIMATE CHANGE FROM DISS MERE, UK" (PDF). Department of Earth Sciences, University College London. March 2005.
  3. ^ Ekwall, E. (1940) The Concise Dictionary of English Place-names; 2nd ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press; pp. 137, 139
  4. ^ Heritage Fund. Retrieved 18 September 2019.
  5. ^ a b c Blomefield, Francis (c. 1736). History of Norfolk . London (published c. 1806). Check date values in: |publication-date= (help)
  6. ^ An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 1. W. Miller, 1805.
  7. ^ Historic England. Retrieved 18 September 2019.
  8. ^ "Coin Hoard Article". Detecting.merseyblogs.co.uk. 15 February 2007. Archived from the original on 13 May 2008. Retrieved 30 November 2009.
  9. ^ "100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum". Norfolk Heritage. Archived from the original on 21 March 2012. Retrieved 27 January 2012.
  10. ^ Cittaslow, 2006. Diss becomes Cittaslow Archived 5 October 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ Diss Town Council website Cittaslow.
  12. ^ [1].
  13. ^ History on team ministry site Retrieved 15 February 2021.
  14. ^ Yell Business. Retrieved 15 February 2021.
  15. ^ No. 1070.
  16. ^ "Detachments in Norfolk ACF". armycadets.com. Archived from the original on 17 November 2018.
  17. ^ Ward, A.W.; Waller, A.R., eds. (1907–21). "Phyllyp Sparowe" The Cambridge History of English and American Literature. Volume III. Renascence and Reformation – via Bartleby.com. |volume= has extra text (help)
  18. ^ "Woodward, Thomas Jenkinson" . Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
  19. ^ Crinfo. Retrieved 9 July 2020.
  20. ^ ["Basham, William Richard" . Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
  21. ^ "Alger, Mary Jemima (1838–1894), headmistress". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/52730. Retrieved 9 July 2020. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  22. ^ "Obituary". Lyttelton Times. CXXI (15211). 24 January 1910. p. 7. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  23. ^ Weilbach, Philip (1877). Dansk Konstnerlexikon, indeholdende korte Levnedstegnelser over Konstnefe, som indtil Udgangen af 1876 have levet... i Danmark eller den danske Stat. Höst og Sön. pp. 153–.
  24. ^ "Ethel Le Neve alias Mrs Crippen, and Neave". Dr Crippen. Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
  25. ^ Wilkes, Roger (30 January 2002). "Inside story: last refuge for a killer's mistress". The Daily Telegraph. London. ISSN 0307-1235. OCLC 49632006. Archived from the original on 4 July 2017.
  26. ^ Norfolk Women in History Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  27. ^ Langdon, Julia (7 June 2018). "Mary Wilson obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 June 2018.
  28. ^ Diss, Norfolk at the English National Football Archive (subscription required)Diss, Norfolk at Post War English & Scottish Football League A–Z Player's Database
  29. ^ Hugman, Barry J., ed. (2010). The PFA Footballers' Who's Who 2010–11. Edinburgh: Mainstream Publishing. p. 417. ISBN 978-1-84596-601-0.
  30. ^ "Player profile". Norwich City F.C. Archived from the original on 1 February 2009. Retrieved 11 February 2009.

External linksEdit

  • Diss Town Council – official town council website
  • Norfolk: Diss GENUKI Norfolk transcript from History, Gazetteer, and Directory of Norfolk, William White, 1845