The small market town of Bury St Edmunds is one of the hidden gems of Suffolk. Despite its size, the crossroads of East Anglia packs a lot of attractions in its small frame. To make sure you don’t miss out on any of them, we’ve compiled a handy list of five that is a must have for your itinerary.
Arguably, Bury St Edmunds’s most famous attraction is the ruined abbey inside the Abbey Gardens in Angel Hill, which was originally commissioned to be built by Cnut the Great, the King of England, Denmark and Norway, as a shrine to commemorate the martyred King of the East Angles, Saint Edmund. The abbey would go on to become one of the most famous and powerful in Europe during the medieval era. In 1214, the Benedictine monastery even played host to the rebel barons who compelled King John to sign the Magna Carta.
In contrast to the abbey, the garden encircling it is picturesque, quaint and soothing – the perfect place for long, leisurely summer walks. There’s even a specially designed sensory garden for the visually and hearing impaired. If flowers, trees and birds are not quite your cup of coffee, there’s also a crazy golf and lawn bowl pitch to get the heart pumping, English-countryside style.
The cathedral, the only one in in Suffolk, stands just a stone’s throw away from Abbey Gardens. Originally built in 1065 and dedicated to St Denys, the cathedral underwent a succession of renovations for the next thousands years before culminating into its present Gothic revival architectural style.
For the past 1,000 years, this has been the region’s coolest craft beer scene. If you have an appreciation of beer and the craft of brewing, this is a pilgrimage worth taking. There’s also the Greene King Tour which takes you all around town, and ends with a beer tasting session at the Westgate Brewery, a brewhouse that was built in 1938. Bring tissues – we know how emotional beer lovers can get, especially after consuming a copious amount.
Another great spot for beer aficionados is the Old Cannon Brewery at Cannon Street. These guys are famed for using locally-grown barley and hops in their recipes. The brewery has a bed and breakfast and an award-winning kitchen, so you could make a whole weekend out of it.
Moyse’s Hall, which overlooks the market place, served as the town’s prison and police station during its first 700 years of existence. Built in 1180, Moyse’s Hall was eventually converted into a museum in 1899. Today, the museum provides a glimpse of Bury St Edmund’s past, and exhibits an eclectic collection of fine art.
Located just 12 miles away at Diss, the museum is situated inside buildings of the former RAF Thorpe Abbotts airfield used by American soldiers during World War II. The exhibits include maps, photographs, uniforms, and numerous other memorabilia from the war.