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Beccles is a market town and civil parish in the Waveney Districtmarker of Suffolk, Englandmarker, within an area known as The Broads. The town is shown on the milestone as from Londonmarker via the A145 Blythburghmarker and A12 roadmarker, northeast of London as the crow flies, southeast of Norwichmarker, and north northeast of the county town of Ipswichmarker. Nearby towns include Lowestoftmarker to the east and Great Yarmouthmarker to the northeast.

It had a population at the 2001 census of 9,746. Worlinghammarker is a suburb of Beccles. The combined population of Beccles and Worlingham in 2005 was estimated at 13,580. Beccles is twinned with Petit-Couronne in Francemarker.


The name is conjectured to be derived from Becc-Liss* (Brittonic=Small-court). However, also offered is Bece-laes* (Old English=Meadow by Stream. Once a flourishing Saxon riverport, it lies in the Waveneymarker valley and is a popular boating centre.The town was granted its Charter in 1584 by Elizabeth I.

Sir John Leman (died 1632) was a tradesman from Beccles who became Lord Mayor of London.

Long associated with Beccles (including recent mayors) is the Peck family. Among those Pecks who have made a place in history is the Rev. Robert Peck, described by Blomfield in his history of Norfolk as a man with a 'violent schismatic spirit' who led a movement within the church of St Andrews in nearby Hingham, Norfolkmarker, in opposition to the established Anglicanism of the day. The Puritan Peck was eventually forced to flee to Hingham, Massachusettsmarker, founded by many members of his parish, where he resided for several years, until King Charles I had been executed and Oliver Cromwell had taken the reins of government. Robert Peck then elected to return to Hingham, Norfolk, and resumed as rector of St Andrews Church. He died in Hingham but left descendants in America, including his brother Joseph Peck, who settled in Rehoboth, Massachusettsmarker.

n 1794, François-René de Chateaubriand, while in exile, taught here french language and litterature. He fell in love with Charlotte Ives, daughter of Bungay's reverend (CF : First part of Les Mémoires d'Outre-Tombe, book 10, chapter 9 "Charlotte")

Under the Municipal Corporations Act 1835 the borough was reformed, Beccles retaining municipal borough status until the reorganisation of local government in 1974, when it was merged with surrounding authorities to become Waveney District. The successor civil parish has adopted town status.

Buildings and industry

Beccles Town Hall
There is an 18th-century octagonal Town Hall.

Beccles Museum is housed in Leman House, a Grade I listed building and has a collection of agricultural, industrial and domestic items, including collections of tools, boat building, printing, costumes and natural history.


St. Michael's Church and bell tower
The townscape is dominated by the detached sixteenth-century bell tower (known as the Beccles bell towermarker) of St Michael's church. Like the main body of the church, the tower is Perpendicular Gothic in style and is 97 ft tall. The interior of the church was badly damaged by fire in 1586. It has a 13th-century font.

The tower is not attached to the church and at the wrong end of the church as the correct end would be too close to a large cliff.

It was at this church in 1749 that the mother of Horatio Nelson, Catherine Suckling, married the Reverend Edmund Nelson (a former curate of Beccles). The Suffolk poet George Crabbe married Sarah Elmy at Beccles church in the 18th century.


Beccles Airportmarker is located 2.3 miles (3.7 km) southeast of the town.

Until 1960 the Beccles to Yarmouthmarker Railway ran across the marshes. The town is still served by Beccles railway stationmarker on the Ipswichmarker-Lowestoftmarker East Suffolk Line. Today it can be reached by the A146 road.

Future Transport Plans

Beccles Southern Link Road

Suffolk County Council has revealed they would like to construct a southern link road for Beccles. The scheme was estimated to cost £3.5 million in 2006 which was not enough to qualify a major transport scheme so Suffolk County Council and Waveney District Council are looking elsewhere to find funding. The reasons given for this scheme are to improve transport links to Ellough Industrial Estate and to facilitate regeneration of the market town of Beccles.


Beccles is served by Sir John Leman High Schoolmarker (13-18) as well as two Middle Schools and a range of primary schools.


Beccles is home to 759 (Beccles) Air Cadets,[14830] who take part in a variety of activities such as flying and gliding, expeditions and sports. Beccles Air Cadets play a small role in the community by assisting organisations and activities such as the Beccles Carnival.

Beccles' main football team is Beccles Town F.C., established in 1919. In the 2008-09 season, they are members of the Anglian Combination Premier Division. Beccles also has a football team called Beccles Caxton.

Ellough Parkmarker Raceway is south-east of Beccles on the site of the old Elloughmarker airfield. It is a local centre for kart racing.

Notable people


  1. Census 2001
  2. Suffolk County Council Estimates of Total Population of Areas in Suffolk, 2007-04-01. Retrieved 2009-04-20
  3. An Account of the Beccles Fen in the County of Suffolk, with a Translation of Their Charter, Drawn up in the Year 1807 for the use of the Corporation, 1826
  4. The Nonconformist's Memorial: Being An Account of the Ministers, Who Were Ejected or Silenced After the Restoration, Samuel Palmer, London, 1775
  5. History of the Town of Hingham, Massachusetts, Thomas Tracy Bouve, 1893
  6. A Genealogical History of the Descendants of Joseph Peck Who Emigrated with His Family to This Country in 1638, Ira Ballou Peck, 1868
  7. Old Houses of the Antient Town of Norwich (Conn.), 1660–1800, Mary Elizabeth Perkins, 1895
  8. Ellough Park Raceway
  9. Martin's profile at

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