Here again is the picture of how the abbey would have looked in the C14. Apart from the outer walls and a few pillars there is nothing left.
But for as long as I can remember there have been gardens, and play ground and open space among the ruins and of course the aviaries, with Parrots and Lovebirds and Zebra Finches. Always the first thing we wanted to see on our visits here in the 1960s. (Years ago there were also Peacocks but probably not PC to have them caged nowadays.)
This book made of wood wasn't here last time I visited. It tells the story of King Edmund and the Wolf
The Abbey of St Edmund was once one of the richest and largest Benedictine monasteries in England.
The site became home to the remains of the martyred King Edmund in 903 and the acquisition of such a notable relic made the monastery a place of pilgrimage as well as the recipient of numerous royal grants.
Visitors enter the abbey precinct today, as they have since the 14th century, through the impressive Great Gate,
which originally gave access to the Great Court and the abbot palace; the north-east corner of the abbot garden is marked by a hexagonal tower, now a dovecote. The Great Gate is the abbey's best surviving feature and gives an excellent idea of the quality of the stonework elsewhere.
The precinct wall survives well in places, and still crosses the River Lark over the Abbot Bridge. Access to the abbey church itself was through the Norman Tower, which dates from 1120-48 (restored in Victorian times). Beyond is the once magnificent west front, into which are incorporated a range of houses built between the 16th and 18th centuries.
Enough remains of the abbey church to suggest it was an impressive structure. At over 150 metres long the church was one of only a few of its date to be built on such a large scale in this country. Construction began at the semi-circular (apsidal) east end around the high altar and shrine of St Edmund.
Below this and on the same plan was the crypt: the bases of its supporting piers and lower courses of its walls remain to show what a vast space this must have been, and the view from above is quite spectacular. Conspicuous among the standing remains are the piers of the crossing tower and the north wall and centre window of the north transept. The layout of some of the once extensive monastic buildings can still be seen to the north and east of the church.
The chapter house, north of the north transept, contains the graves of six abbots, while the monks cemetery and infirmary lay to the east of the church.
In 1214 King John's discontented earls and barons assembled at the abbey to discuss their grievances against him, and committed themselves to forcing the king to grant them a number of liberties. The following year John met the rebel barons at Runnymede and sealed Magna Carta.
The abbey continued to thrive throughout the 13th century but relations with the townspeople were rarely cordial. Matters came to a head in 1327 in a summer of riots, though disputes rumbled on throughout the 14th century. The abbey suffered other problems too, notably damage to the west tower through collapse and later a serious fire.
Despite these setbacks Bury St Edmunds remained politically important throughout the 15th century - Henry VI came for Christmas in 1433 and stayed for four months - and when it was surrendered to King Henry VIII in 1539 it still had a considerable income. Though the abbey precinct was quickly stripped of valuable building material, the abbot palace survived as a house until 1720.
All that's left of what must have been an amazing building MORE INFO HERE
The Norman Tower
About The Norman Tower
The Norman Tower, which was the principal gateway into Bury St Edmunds' great abbey church, houses a fine peal of twelve bells (with a thirteenth semitone bell) was built between 1120 and 1148 and is one of the oldest Norman buildings in England and one of the most complete Norman buildings in the UK as it has never been altered.
The original ten bells were cast by Thomas Osborn of Downham Market in 1785. The heaviest bell, the 'tenor', weighs just over 27 hundredweight and sounds a C# note.
In 1973 the bells were re-hung by Taylors of Loughborough in a cast iron frame lower down the tower, with their original wooden frame preserved higher up. In 2010 an appeal was launched to augment the bells to a cathedral ring of 12, and two new trebles (lighter bells) were dedicated on Easter Sunday 2012, then hung and rung for the first time on Easter Monday. In 2013, a 13th bell was added. This helps learner ringers, as there is a requirement to learn on 8 bells before progressing to higher numbers (10 and 12) - a ring of 10 bells contains within it only 1 true octave, that comprising the 8 heaviest bells, but the provision of a 13th (semitone) bell makes a lighter octave available in the ring of 12.
Approximately 175 full peals have been rung since records began in November 1879. The bells are rung on Sundays from 9.00 am for the 10 o'clock Eucharist, and quarter peals are regularly rung before Sunday evensong. The bells are also rung for weddings and other special occasions.
This part of the ruins below are rather special - they are homes, built into the original West Front of the Abbey between the C16 and C18.
The statue of King Edmund was commissioned in 1974 to mark the joining of East and West Suffolk County Councils to form Suffolk County Council
Standing proud on the Angel Hill opposite the Abbey Gate is the Angel Hotel. It's been here a long time and mentioned in one of Charles Dickens books
In the middle of the town is Moyse's Hall Museum
Steeped in history, Moyse’s Hall has looked out over Bury St Edmunds market place for almost 900 years
The Pub below is supposed to be "The Smallest Pub" In England, although many other small pubs make the same claim
The sign that the sugar beet from the fields all around is being processed are the clouds of steam from the Sugar beet factory on the edge of town. BUY BRITISH SUGAR - BUY SILVER SPOON!
Just a quick tour of another Suffolk town that I know so well.