A visitors guide to the attractive historic Suffolk
Market Town of Bury St. Edmunds with its old streets,
buildings and ancient Abbey. Many of Bury St
Edmunds buildings date from the 17th and 18th centuries
and its cobbled streets ooze history, legend and
folklore. The layout of the streets are still very
much as Abbot Baldwin devised them back in the 11th
century. The town grew up around the Benedictine
monastery founded in 1020AD and has nearly one thousand
The town was once an important religious centre. The
last king of the East Angles - King Edmund was martyred
nearby in 869 and later moved here for burial in the
year 903. Unfortunately after the dissolution of the
monasteries the Abbey was destroyed and now only ruins
remain. The Abbey gardens in which the remains sit,
are beautifully maintained throughout the entire
year. Nearby at the Visitor Centre is a modern
statue of St. Edmund sculpted by Elizabeth Frink who was
born and educated in Suffolk.
Bury has wonderful shops mostly located in traffic free
areas. Along with the big high street names there are
also small unusual shops making the whole experience of
shopping very enjoyable. A regular market held on
Wednesday and Saturday adds to the experience and the
Moyse's Hall Museum built in 1140 is said to be the
oldest domestic town house in East Anglia. In its past
it was used as hostelry, jail, parcels office and now
the Borough Museum. If you don't mind rubbing elbows
when you drink then visit the public house Nutshell,
which claims to be the smallest pub in England. Bury
also has a theatre, the Theatre Royal, sited in a
beautifully restored Georgian building, which hosts
drama, music and dance events throughout the year.
The Norman Tower in Chequer Square was built in the 12th
Century and inside St. Mary's church is the tomb of Mary
Rose Tudor sister of Henry VIII. Mary was used as a
political pawn and married by her brother to the King of
France. The King of France died soon after the ceremony
so Mary returned home to England.
She then married Charles Brandon the Duke of Suffolk and
went to live at Westhorpe. When she died she was buried
in the Abbey at Bury but after the dissolution her tomb
was moved to St. Mary's church..
town was originally
called Bury only later adding the additional St.
Edmunds. In the year 841 in Nuremberg a child was born
who grew up to become a staunch Christian.
As a teenager he came over to East Anglia where he
became King of East Anglia. In 870 he was captured by
Danes who tortured him and then killed him.
According to legend although his body was recovered by
his friends his head could not be found. His men
searched high and low for forty days, they then heard
Edmunds voice directing them to the depths of a wood.
Here they discovered Edmunds head lying protected
between the paws of a wolf.
In 903 thirty three years after King Edmund was killed
his body was brought to Bury St. Edmunds by Bishop
Theodred. The first abbey church was built soon
afterwards to honour the memory of this saintly king.
After the Norman Conquest the monastery
was re-planned on a grand scale and this is the remains
of the rebuilding which survives today. In 1327 the
abbey was sacked by the townspeople protesting against
monastic control and in 1381 during the Peasants Revolt
the Prior was beheaded as he fled the monastery.
In 1539 at the time of the dissolution of the
monasteries the abbey was sold for £412.19s 4d. It was
subsequently robbed of much of its stone for use as
building material in the town.