It lies in the valley of the River Waveney, around a mere (lake) that covers 6 acres (24,000 m²). The mere is up to 18 feet (5 m) deep (although there is another 51 feet (16 m) of mud, making it one of the deepest natural inland lakes in England). The town may take its name from the Saxon term for lake, or from an old Viking word meaning 'village of the dancing horse'.
Diss has a large number of historic buildings, including the early 14th century parish church. It is also home to a museum. Diss railway station lies on the Great Eastern Main Line route from London to Norwich.
Famous people from Diss include John Skelton, a former poet laureate whose poem Ware the Hawk is set in St, Mary's Church. Others include Thomas Lord, founder of Lord's Cricket Ground and England defender Matthew Upson. Frequent visitors include the actor Dexter Fletcher who has called the town 'the jewel in Norfolk's crown'.
Opposite the fourteenth-century parish church of St. Mary The Virgin stands a sixteenth-century building known as the Dolphin House. This was one of the most important buildings in the town. Its impressive dressed-oak beams denote it to be a high-status building, possibly a wool merchant's house. Formerly a pub, the Dolphin, from the 1800s to the 1960s, the building now houses a number of small businesses.
Early in 1871, substantial alterations were made to a house in Mount Street, about north of the parish church. The workmen were removing the brick flooring of one of the ground-rooms and excavating the soil beneath, to insert the joists of a boarded floor, when they discovered a hoard of coins. Beneath the bricks, they came upon the original hard clay floor, and in the centre of the room, at about 18 inches from the surface, the remains of an earthen vessel were found, containing over three hundred coins. With the exception of 2 fine gold nobles, all the coins were silver.
In March 2006, Diss became the third town in the UK to join Cittaslow, an international organisation promoting the concept of 'Slow Towns'.
The town's local newspaper, founded 1864, is the Diss Express.
James Govier [1910 - 1974 ] was the artmaster at Diss Grammar School from 1965 until 1972. Govier was a painter and etcher of The Swansea School and The Royal College of Art, he resided at Hoxne in Suffolk.
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