Some key dates in Beccles history

Beccles is a Market Town with a lot of history. During the medieval period Suffolk was one of the wealthiest counties in the country and Beccles was its third most important town. The following is a list of historic events based on the one displayed in the museum. The events have in some way or another had an impact on the town, some are of a very local nature, others are of national importance. Over time I hope to be able to link many of these dates and titles to articles that tell you more about their importance and impact on the town and its development. To launch the site a few entries have supporting material, they are highlighted, to access them just click on the event.

  • 75BC Trackway built across marsh to the River Waveney
    955 Manor of Beccles given to King Edwy to the monks caring for the shrine of St Edmund at Bury
    1066 Market already established in Beccles
    1086 Domesday Book
    1270 First mention of Leper Hospital at St Mary's
    1369 St Michael's Church built (or maybe rebuilt)
    1428 Seven Beccles people found guilty at heresy trials in Norwich
    1455 South Porch added to St Michael's
    1515 Start of the building of the Bell Tower at St Michael's
    1539 Bury Abbey dissolved
    1540 Fen brought from King Henry VIII by William Rede senior
    1542 William Rede junior buys Manor of Beccles from King Henry VIII
    1543 Town had grant of Fen revoked
    1544 Feoffees inherit the lands of the Guild of the Holy Ghost
    1556 Burning of the three Beccles Martyrs
    1577 St Mary's Church in Endgate taken down.
    1584 Surrender of Fen to Queen Elizabeth I and granting of Royal Charter
    1586 Great Fire of Beccles
    1583 Building of Roos Hall
    1605 James I confirms Royal Charter
    1632 Death of Sir John Leman and founding of a Free School
    1640 Conscripted soldiers at Beccles not paid and unruly.
    People of Beccles refuse to pay ship money
    1643 Oliver Cromwell captures Beccles Royalist in Lowestoft.
    Destruction of paintings and sculptures in St Michael's by William Dowsing
    1673 St Mary's Hospital Lands given to the town by King Charles II.
    1680 Prison and workhouse built at Beccles
    1693 Smallpox epidemic at Beccles
    1699 Fire destroys 100 Beccles houses
    1707 First mention of London coach
    1709 First mention of Beccles Race course
    1710 Meadows in Beccles Fen enclosed.
    1758 Part of the town is paved
    1763 New peal of ten bells hung in St Michael's Church Tower
    1765 Old Market cross pulled down
    Town Hall built
    1766 Banks built along river to prevent Fen flooding
    1767 Opening of Shipmeadow House of Industry
    1770 Fauconberge School established
    1771 50 Lamps bought to light the Town
    1785 Assembly Rooms (now Public Hall) built
    1787 New prison built
    1799 Town gets its first Fire Engine
    1807 First Police Officer appointed
    1812 Independent Chapel built in Hungate
    1822 Medical Dispensary in Hungate opens
    1823 Blyburgate burial ground consecrated
    1832 River Waveney deepened and Quay built
    1835 Beccles Public library established
    1836 Abolition of corporation of Beccles Fen and election of first Beccles Town Council
    1837 Gasworks built near Quay
    National School built in Newgate
    1844 Beccles Theatre closes and building becomes Corn Exchange
    1847 James Hill and Jeremy the shoemaker rewarded for helping suppress a riot
    1853 100 men needed to clear snow from Beccles streets
    1854 Opening of Beccles Railway (Halesworth to Haddiscoe)
    1856 Steam pump installed on Fen
    Beccles Working Men's Institute founded
    1857 Restoration of St Michael's
    1859 Lowestoft and Yarmouth railway line to Ipswich opened
    1860 Baptist Church built
    1861 Development of Station Road
    1863 Waveney Valley Railway opens
    1865 National School built in Ravensmere
    Quarter sessions moved from Beccles to Ipswich
    1867 Crisps Maltings built next to Railway station
    1868 Elizabethan Manor House in Newgate demolished
    Caxton Press built
    1870 Beccles Waterworks built
    1871 Beccles Soup Kitchen for the poor opens
    1873 First sewage system built
    1874 Hospital in Fair Close built
    1884 Old Bridge replaced by Iron Bridge
    1889 Commissioning of St Benet's
    1894 The new Bathing Place opens in Puddingmoor
    1914 The First World War
    1924 Beccles and District War Memorial Hospital opens
    1939 The Second World War
    1972 Beccles Borough Council buys St Michael's Bell Tower
    1973 Beccles Borough Council abolished, Waveney District Council formed.