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Heritage in Bury St Edmunds

A great british break: Bury st edmunds

If an image of a great British break conjures up cobbled lanes, historic buildings, café culture and enough independent shops to shake a stick at, then Bury St Edmunds is a good bet. Not least because it’s located near several of the UK’s prettiest villages, providing further inspiration to continue exploring Suffolk’s glorious countryside.
Street in Bury St EdmundsCobbled streets of historic Bury St Edmunds

Why visit?

While the Suffolk coast attracts a good number of visitors to our shores in the summer months, the autumn is when many of Suffolk’s charming market towns and villages become the county’s lure. You don’t have to delve too deep to see why it’s so loved. It boasts many heritage sites including a cathedral, Britain’s only surviving Regency theatre, the resting place of Mary Tudor and a hotel once frequented by Charles Dickens. Stay longer and you’ll discover a perfect base for exploring the rest of Suffolk for outdoor activities and countryside walks, noteworthy eateries and stunning scenery.

Discover more of Bury St Edmunds here

Directions around Bury St Edmunds

Discover some of Bury St Edmunds main attractions 

Things to do

The town is hugely walkable and compact, with a cobbled core that’s partially pedestrianised at the weekend. For an introduction to the area, 900-year-old Moyse’s Hall Museum is a good starting point, where the brilliantly eclectic exhibits range from the ornate (centuries-old gold artefacts) to the macabre (a book bound in human skin). There’s also an entire room of clocks. Visit before the 25th for the fabulous Sc-Fi & Action exhibition, showcasing Hollywood costumes and props from film favourites, including Star Wars and Dr Who! (£12; moyseshall.org).

Moyses Hall in Bury St EdmundsEclectic Moyses Hall 
On the edge of the south side of the old town is St Edmundsbury Cathedral. It was only established in 1914, but there’s been a church on the site in some form or other since the 11th century, rebuilt and extended numerous times. The wonderful cloister and Millennium Tower are 21st-century additions, while some of the stained glass is medieval. Explore for yourself or join a guided tour (entry free, tours from £3; stedscathedral.co.uk).
Cloisters at St Edmundsbury CathedralThe cloisters at St Edmundsbury Cathedral

Behind the cathedral, you’ll discover Abbey Gardens. Follow the path around the manicured flowerbeds and lawns to the ruins of the 11th-century Abbey of St Edmund, once one of the most important monasteries in Europe. The crumbling remains range from outlines of rooms to walls standing 20ft high. There’s even a smattering of fascinating structures that look like cave dwellings: 16th- to 18th-century homes built into the ruins.

Bury St Edmunds in SuffolkThe award-winning Abbey Gardens
As many of our town centres struggle, Bury St Edmund comfortably strikes a balance between independent shops and household names. There's a twice-weekly market (Wednesday and Saturday) and an annual Christmas Fayre, which takes over the town for a long weekend (22nd – 25th November).
Shopping in Bury St EdmundsShop at the Arc for highstreet favourites
It’s probably not a town you visit without noticing its beer drinking heritage; visit the welcome centre of Greene King Brewery, the country’s leading pub retailer and brewer. Join a tour to discover the secrets of brewing and get to taste nine draft ales, with Greene King IPA and Old Speckled Hen among them. (from £16; greenekingshop.co.uk/brewery-tours). There’s also the Old Cannon microbrewery and plenty of pubs, including The Nutshell, which at 15ft by 7ft is officially the smallest pub in Britain! (thenutshellpub.co.uk).
Britain's smallest pub The NutshellBritain's smallest pub: The Nutshell

Beyond bury st edmunds

Head out of Bury St Edmunds to explore the Suffolk countryside for many a good walk nearby. A 20-minute drive south is the quintessentially English village of Lavenham, from which you can set off on a 4½-mile woodland ramble to Long Melford, along an old railway line. The walk ends at Melford Hall, a National Trust property, with its welcoming café serving mouth-watering tea and cake, the perfect reward for your efforts. Or, if you would like to carry on walking, the grounds are lovely for a stroll.
Crooked houses in LavenhamExplore Lavenham; the village of Harry Potter's birthplace

where to stay

It’s hard to miss the ivy-clad exterior of the Angel hotel, opposite the Abbey Gardens. Rooms are spacious, with 1920s-inflected decor. Don’t miss a nightcap in the 12th-century Wingspan Bar (doubles from £130, B&B).

The Angel Hotel Bury St EdmundsCharles Dickens was a frequent visitor to the The Angel Hotel

Where to eat

Maison Bleue is ranked among the best places to eat in Suffolk and the country. It serves a modern French menu with an emphasis on using fish and voted Britain’s Top Ten Fine Dining Restaurants in 2015 by TripAdvisor. (A set 3-course lunch will set you back £26; www.maisonbleue.co.uk).

For something more casual, the market takes over Butter Market and Cornhill every Wednesday and Saturday. You’ll find everything from Indian street food to Jamaican patties for a few pounds.
 

how to get here

Travel with Greater Anglia from London in just over 2 hours or go to our 
How to Get to Suffolk page on the website.

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