Holy Trinity Church, Bungay, stands on
the eastern side of Trinity Street, about ninety metres north of
the Wharton Street junction. It consists of a nave, south aisle,
and south porch, with a fine round tower which is believed to be
the oldest surviving structure in the town. A screen was erected
inside the church about 1558 to create a partition for the chancel.
This would have been the same chancel that was later destroyed by
fire, with its remnants being cleared in 1754.
The round tower is reputed to be Saxon in origin
thanks to its gabled arch. Round church towers are rare outside East
Anglia, but the region itself has about 180 of them. This one also
has an octagonal embattled top of the 1400s which bears various
arms. It was struck by lightening in the early 1800s, which split
the walls and melted all the bells but one. The only elegant fitting
now surviving is the pulpit, which is finely carved out of brown oak
and dates to the 1500s.
St Mary's Church, Bungay, lies between St
Mary's Street and Trinity Street, with St Edmund's on its southern
flank (see below). A Saxon church stood on the site (mentioned in
1086) but this was entirely replaced in the twelfth century by a new
church for the adjacent Benedictine priory (below). Thanks to later
rebuilding, most of the present structure dates from the fourteenth
century. The porch exemplifies this, dating to 1309. The north aisle
was added in the 1400s.
The church along with the town was gutted by
fire in 1688 when all its medieval wooden fittings were lost, and
the tower and south aisle had to be rebuilt. The repaired church
reopened in 1701, consisting of the parochial nave, aisles, and
tower of the former priory church. Stretching eastwards from the
present east wall are the ruins of the former conventional quire,
where the nuns heard mass. Now redundant, the church is cared for
by the Churches Conservation Trust.
Bungay Nunnery stood on the east flank of
St Mary's Church (above), filling much of the street. Formally known
either as the Benedictine Convent of St Cross or the
Convent of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Holy Cross, it was
built for an order of nuns which had been founded about 1160 by
Gundreda, wife of Sir Roger de Glanville. The priory church, built
in the 1100s, survives in part as St Mary's while the ruins show how
big it used to be. The priory itself is entirely lost.
St Edmund's Catholic Church, Bungay, is
on the south flank of St Mary's (above). The parish grew out of the
Flixton Hall mission of 1657-1665. The hall later passed into
Protestant hands and the 'priest's house' in the village was built
for Benedictine missioners. The mission continued until 1821 when
land from the former Benedictine convent was donated by the duke
of Norfolk. The first Catholic chapel was opened in 1823. It was
replaced by the present church in 1891.