Eye, or 'Eay' is an old Saxon word meaning island and indeed in those days Eye was surrounded by water and could only be reached by boat. In Norman times the motte of the castle occupied one end of the island and a long bailey stretched westwards. This shape is still imposed on the town as it is today. The Parish Church stands immediately to the east of where the motte ditch would once have been.
Through the centuries Eye remained relatively small, although not insignificant, settlement and prospered as a market town with an annual Whit Monday Fair. Local industry in the town consisted of two breweries and an iron foundry along with flax works. There was a weekly corn market and a fortnightly cattle market, as well as the normal market days.Comparatively isolated from other centres of population, Eye was reached by a branch line of the Great Eastern Railway in the late 19th century linking it with the rest of the rail network.
Today, Eye retains the peaceful atmosphere and character of a small 18th century market town resting in the heart of the Suffolk countryside.
The principal speaker on this walk is Clive Paine who is a hugely popular speaker and lecturer. And it is our good fortune that his ancestors come from Eye!
The introduction is probably best heard by the Mere where the walk starts. Check out our audio map that shows you the route and by clicking on the numbers, you can listen to the tour stop by stop before you come (or enjoy it again afterwards in the comfort of your home!) We have also created a slide show that takes you along the route, so you can familiarise yourself with the town before you coming.