Diss is a lively old market town, near the border with Suffolk, and lies in the valley of the River Waveney, round a mere covering 6 acres.
The town takes its name from dic an Anglo-Saxon word meaning either ditch or embankment. There are a number of historic buildings in Diss, including an early 14th-century parish church, and a museum. The clerestoried church, with its embattled tower and nave makes a pretty picture. Four members of the Manning family were rectors here from 1778 to 1916 and Edward Bosworth was rector for 49 years before them.
Diss railway station is on the Great Eastern Main Line from London to Norwich. A traditional market is held in the town each Friday and Diss hosts a Farmer’s Market on the second Saturday of each month. Antiques and collectables are sold in TW Gaze's salesrooms every Friday and The Corn Hall provides great entertainment including music, comedy, theatre, films and exhibitions.
The town has been home to some famous men: a Poet Laureate, a Victorian physician and a Tudor composer. The Poet Laureate was John Skelton, whose work was appreciated by Henry VII, thus making him tutor to his son. The physician was William Baspam, who was highly regarded at Westminster Hospital during the 19th century. The composer, who was baptised in Diss in 1574 AD, was John Wilbye. Little is known of Wilbye himself, but he is well known for works such as madrigals, of which he was one of the chief composers.
Interesting facts about Diss
- A railway journey from London to Diss is the subject of a poem by the late Sir John Betjeman: "A Mind's Journey to Diss"
- Poet John Skelton (1463–1529), is thought to have been born in Diss
- Botanist Thomas Jenkinson Woodward (1745–1820), died in Diss
- Founder of Lord’ Cricket Ground, Thomas Lord (1755–1832), was born in Diss
- William Richard Basham (1804–1877), medical specialist in dropsy and renal disease, was born in Diss
- Journalist and writer on the French Revolution, John Goldworth Alger (1836–1907), was born in Diss
- Danish portrait and genre painter Catherine Engelhart Amyot (1845–1926), had three children born in Diss (Thomas in 1879, Catherine Florence in 1880 and Noel Ethel in 1882)
- Ethel Le Neve (1883–1967), mistress of the wife-murderer Hawley Harvey Crippen, was born in Diss
- Painter and engraver Elsie Vera Cole (1885–1967), died in Diss
- Novelist and agricultural writer Doreen Wallace (1897–1989), taught in Diss in the 1920s and returned for her last eleven years
- Centenarian wife of Prime Minister Harold Wilson, Mary Wilson (1916–2018), was born in Diss
- Professional football goalkeeper Mervyn Cawston (born 1952), was born in Diss
- Professional footballer Matthew Upson (born 1979), attended Diss High School and went on to play for Arsenal F.C
- Declan Rudd (born 1991), professional football goalkeeper, was born in Diss. Rudd joined the Norwich City academy at the age of eight and went on to play for Norwich City, Charlton and Preston North End
Bressingham Steam & Gardens has been a charity since the early 1970s and is home to Alan Bloom’s collection of mainly steam powered engineering, gardens and Dad’s Army Appreciation Society’s collection. Open to the public since 1961, the attraction is located in the village of Bressingham, west of Diss in Norfolk, and is enjoyed by both young and old.