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MARKET TOWNS OF SUFFOLK (from SDUK Penny Cyclopedia)

Eye in 1842

Eye, Suffolk, is in the hundred of Hartismere, about 20 miles north of Ipswich. It is on a feeder of the river Waveney, now a mere rivulet, but probably navigable at a former though very remote period. Small rudders and other tackle belonging to boats are said by Leland to have been dug up from time to time by the monks of Eye, in clearing out the ditches.

The town was incorporated by King John, and sent two members to parliament from the time of Elizabeth to the passing of the Reform Act, when it was reduced to one member. There are some slight remains of the castle, belonging to the Malet family, one of whom founded at Eye a small Benedictine priory, whose yearly revenues at the dissolution were £184, 9 shillings and 7¾ pence clear. There are some remains of the monastic buildings, now used as stables, on the east side of the town. The streets of Eye are irregularly laid out and narrow, and the houses are mean.

The church is handsome and spacious, with a fine tower of perpendicular character : there are Baptist and Wesleyan meeting-houses. The area of the borough and parish is 2,370 acres ; the population in 1831 was 2,313. There is little trade, and no manufacture, except a trifling one of lace. The general market is on Saturday, the corn-market on Tuesday, and there are two yearly fairs.

The municipal boundaries are coincident with the parish of Eye. Before the passing of the Municipal Reform Act, the municipal authorities had no exclusive jurisdiction ; no sessions were held, and the court of record had long gone into disuse ; under the Municipal Reform Act, the borough has 4 aldermen and 12 councillors, but is not to have a commission of the peace except on petition and grant. By the Boundary Act the adjacent parishes of Hoxne, Denham, Redlingfield, Occold, Thorndon Braisworth, Yaxley, Thrandiston, Broome, and Oakley were, for parliamentary purposes, added to the borough, which thus includes an extensive rural district, about 20,000 acres with a population in 1831 of 7,015. The number of voters on the register in 1835-6 was 278 ; in 1839-40, 332. The living of Eye is a vicarage, of the clear yearly value of £331, with a glebe-house, in the rural deanery of Hartismere, archdeaconry of Suffolk, and diocese of Norfolk. There were in the borough and parish in 1833, two dame-schools, with about 60 children ; four other day-schools, with 99 children, 47 boys and 52 girls ; and three Sunday-schools with about 280 children of both sexes. One of the day-schools is partly supported by an endowment and a grant from the corporation.