St Mary's Church, Bungay, Suffolk

St Mary's Street, Bungay, Suffolk, NR35 1AX
How to find us | Access information
Opening times:
Open daily.
  • Overview
  • Map
  • What's nearby

Brilliant carvings and a legendary beast

The graceful and elegant tower of this grand church, with its tall pinnacles, stands 33.5 metres high. It is a landmark for miles around, and the focal point of this market town. If you look up as you approach you can see intriguing carved heads under the parapet of the north aisle. Built in the late fifteenth century as part of the church of the Benedictine priory on this site, St Mary's remained the parish church after the priory was closed by Henry VIII in 1536.

Some remains of the priory buildings can still be seen in the churchyard to the east. In 1688 the church was badly damaged in a fire that devastated the whole town, leading to major restoration work on the church, which was then restored again in Victorian times. Inside, the church is flooded with light from the plain glass in the windows, especially the west window, which is exceptionally large and wide and has an amazing display of tracery design in its upper half. The splendid carving on the roof bosses is well worth looking at, and includes angels, a lion, two-headed eagles and a splendid bat. Other finds to look out for include a wooden dole-cupboard near the entrance, which was given by the curate in 1675.

This is where bread was left for collection by the poor - it has religious worthies and a perky rat carved on it. There is also a fine seventeenth-century carved Flemish panel of the Resurrection in the War Memorial Chapel, a gift of Sir H Rider Haggard (author of King Solomon's Mines) who lived nearby. St Mary's is also famous for the visitation of the Black Dog of Bungay - it appeared during a terrifying storm in 1577 and attacked the congregation.

Bungay Guide

To donate by text, please text 'BUN' to 70970 to donate £5 and to 70191 to donate £10. Thank you.

  • Access information

    Church is located in town centre with near by public car parks.

    There is a small step into nave from the porch.

  • Facilities & Hire

    The church has lighting, heating, toilets and a small kitchenette. Please some facilities are only available during events.

    There is seating for 280 people, but comfortably, 230 can see performances at the front of the church.

  • Directions
    In Bungay town centre.
  • Transport

    Nearest railway station: Beccles (4 miles).

  • History & Further Information

    Why not make your visit more enjoyable and informed by finding out more about this church before you visit? You can download a range of publications below including the relevant county guide, and any walk round guides we have for this church.

    Suffolk County Guide 2012

    This free of charge short guide contains details of all the churches we care for in Suffolk. Printed copies of the county guide are also available at the church.

  • Community information

    The Friends of Bungay Church

    The Friends assist The Churches Conservation Trust in caring for the church, organising events and raising funds for the building's upkeep.

    Recent Events: Stitch in Time - an exhibition of embroidery and needlework in May 2017.

    Useful local links: