Bury St Edmunds, England, in the county of Suffolk, was originally called Beodericsworth and was first platted in a grid style in 1080 by Abbott Baldwin. Today it is known for the Green King brewery and for a British Sugar processing factory where Silver Spoon sugar is made. But Bury St Edmunds has a long recorded history dating back to before 841 A.D. This is where we find the namesake and the beginning of St Edmundsbury Cathedral.
In February 2017 we took our first European vacation as a family from North Central Kansas to Beck Row, England a small village of 3000 in the East Anglia region of England and the home of Mildenhall RAF. From here we chose to begin sight-seeing in the town of Bury St Edmunds paying particular attention to the Abbey ruins.
The trip to Bury St Edmunds from Beck Row began with a five minute walk from the apartment we had rented from Shakespeare Lodge to the bus stop in front of Tokyo Oysy Sushi for the orange bus number 355 at 10:05. This bus route is operated by Mulleys Motorways. The return fare for the ride was £6.00 each with the grandbaby being free (under aged 5). This trip takes about 30 minutes and meanders through the villages of Mildenhall, Holywell, Icklingham, Lackford, Flempton, Hengrave, Fornham and finally Bury St Edmunds.
Once we arrived at the Bury St Edmunds Bus Station we made our way to the town center up a slight hill passing many pubs, shops and restaurants along the way. There is a street market every Wednesday and Saturday in the otherwise car park directly in the center of town. Today Bury St Edmunds is very much a modern town of 30,000 residents that is easy to navigate by walking or using the city bus system.
We walked along following the well placed attraction markers to the Abbey Gardens where we spent the next two hours wandering through the ruins, the park, and the aviary then finally into the magnificent St Edmundsbury Cathedral. The Abbey was built as a shrine to King Edmund Parts starting in the 11th century and construction has continued as needed as recently as 2010. Entrance to the Abbey Gardens is free and made through the 12th century Norman tower gate.
To visit the Cathedral is free for a self guided tour using the stained glass window guide provided and they offer a guided tour for a charge. The cathedral is filled with many beautiful stained glass windows that each tells a story, even one that tells the story of the Creation. One of the tour guides pointed out that it was curious that Adam has a belly button.
Services are held daily in St James Cathedral and the Pilgrims Kitchen serves cooked meals just off the Cloisters. They even have picnic tables set up off the kitchen for outside dining or just to enjoy a cup of tea in a beautiful peaceful spot.
Bury St Edmunds can be accessed directly from London using the Greater Anglia train.
In 841 Edmund was born to the King of East Anglia. The kingdom was a rich and prosperous place that often came under attack from many people. When Edmund was 14 his father died, making him king. He was crowned in a small chapel in Bures that you can visit today.
In 869 Vikings invaded East Anglia and captured King Edmund. They told the king that they would spare his life if he renounced his Christian faith. When the king refused to do so they tied him to a tree and shot arrows at him, making him a martyr. After his death the Vikings then cut off his head. When they tried to pick it up to remove the crown a wolf suddenly appeared and guarded it, preventing anyone to go near it. It is said that the wolf continued to guard the head for several days until men from King Edmunds army were able to retrieve it. In 900 his body was taken to Bury St Edmunds.
In 1065 work began on a shrine to honor King Edmund and an Abbey of Bury St Edmunds was built. The abbey was built on a site that had been used for religious ceremonies for nearly three centuries. The Abbey continued to grow and flourish under many different Benedictine Abbots until it was in the 16th century it was stripped of all valuable and usable building materials and left to ruin. In early 1500 the current St James Cathedral was built on the Abbey grounds.