Now bypassed by the A146, Barnby is a quiet village, mostly clustered around the original Beccles to Lowestoft road, between the Beccles-Lowestoft road and the railway line. The greater part of the parish's area is north of the railway, though this is devoid of habitation.
Barnby Broad has virtually disappeared but marshland along the Waveney valley remains. A railway accident in 1891 saw bodies laid out in the pub after Amos Beamish, a 28 stone local giant had helped to rescue survivors. Watch out for Black Shuck, the devil's dog of local legend.
Historically, Barnby was known as Barnaby; it was recorded in Domesday as "Barneby"or "Barnebei". John Speed's 1610 map shows the village as "Barnbye".