Diss is an ancient Norfolk market town with real character famed for its antique markets. The town sits close to the Suffolk border in the delightful Waveney Valley area of South Norfolk. Diss received a mention in the Domesday book and evidence of ancient Stone, Bronze and Iron Age settlement has been unearthed in the area.
Packed with historic churches, timber-framed buildings and famously the six acre Diss Mere with central fountain and underground springs, this Norfolk market town makes the perfect base for touring the inland market towns of both Suffolk and Norfolk. You’re also just a stone’s throw from the classical music centre Aldeburgh and the heritage coast. Norwich to the north and Constable Country around Ipswich to the south are within easy driving distance.
Local specialist shops in Diss sell a range of craft gifts and antiques. You’ll find them around the historic Diss Yards including Cobbs Yard, Norfolk House Yard and Hales Yard. The atmospheric Victorian Diss Corn Hall built in 1854 is arts hub venue in Diss offering a packed programme of theatre, films, music concerts and events.
You’ll find a good choice of historic accommodation in Diss and the surrounding Norfolk countryside including old character inns with rooms, luxury farm cottages and quirky B&Bs. Attractions around Diss not to be missed include the Bressingham Steam Museum and Gardens just to the west and great Norfolk family attractions like Banham Zoo. Outdoor activities in Thetford Forest are within easy driving distance. Stay in a character Diss B&B or a historic 17th Century coaching inn.
Around Diss in pretty Norfolk villages like Harleston and Pulham Market you’ll find a selection of pretty farm B&Bs and stylish luxury boutique bed and breakfast accommodation all conveniently close to best antiques markets in the poet John Betjeman’s favourite Norfolk market town. Diss offers excellent transport links, ideal for car free holidays in Norfolk. Trains from Diss station are direct to Norwich, Ipswich and Manningtree for Constable Country. Search for Diss accommodation and book.
Bressingham Steam Museum & Gardens
The Bressingham Steam Museum and Gardens just west of Diss offers a fun day out with a mix of attractions to please all including the stunning Bressingham Gardens covering 20 acres, Bressingham steam railway rides on one of the four railways running around Bressingham Gardens, a huge collection of historic locomotives in the loco shed and the popular Dad’s Army exhibition with recreation of Walmington on Sea, fictional home of Captain Mainwaring and colleagues. Bressingham is the official home of the Dad’s Army Appreciation Society’s collection and original props and vehicles from the famous TV series feature in the recreated Walmington exhibit.
Themed events include a day out with Thomas’ and the ‘Steam in Miniature Weekend’. A real delight to visitors at Bressingham are the three-abreast Gallopers built by Savages of King’s Lynn in 1900. Gallopers are traditional fairground merry-go-rounds with galloping horses. The three Edwardian Gallopers at Bressingham are historic gems.
Diss – Cittaslow Town
Diss centre contains a spectacular array of Georgian and Edwardian architecture as well as ancient historic churches like St Mary’s which dominates Market Place. Founded in 1290, chapels in St Mary’s date from the 15th century and there are fine examples of Victorian stained glass within.
Diss is a Cittaslow town, one of several around Britain. Cittaslow (Slow city or town) locations place great emphasis on traditional ways of market town life. Diss was the perfect candidate for Cittaslow status. A market has been held here for over 500 years. Today’s Diss Market is held weekly on Friday, coinciding with the popular antiques and collectables auction held in the acclaimed Gaze’s Salesroom which has featured on many TV antiques and collectables programmes like ‘Bargain Hunt’. Around Diss centre you’ll find a wonderful collection of antique and specialist shops and Diss hosts regular themed markets.
Famous unique feature in Diss is the central Diss Mere, one of the deepest natural inland lakes in the UK covering 6 acres with central fountain. Several underground springs underneath the lake maintain the water level and around Diss Mere sits the beautiful green spaces of Diss Park and Fair Green with ample seating for picnics or just to sit and admire the spectacular view.
Diss Museum on Market Place is where to discover the rich history of this ancient Norfolk market town. The museum is known as The Shambles and was formally two butchers’ shops. Highlights within include the Old Rectory Doll’s House. A tour of Diss town centre takes in other unique features in the town alongside the Mere such as the distinctive Diss sign with depictions of the legend of King John and 16th century poet laureate John Skelton.