St Mary’s Church is the civic church of Bury St Edmunds and is one of the largest parish churches in England. It was part of the abbey complex and originally was one of three large churches in the town. It claims to have the second longest aisle, and the largest West Window of any parish church in the country.
St Mary’s was part of the abbey complex and originally was one of three large churches in the town (the others being St James, now St Edmundsbury Cathedral, and St Margaret’s, now gone.
The interior has one of the largest and most exhilarating naves in the country. Arcades of ten majestic bays march towards the chancel, each rising on continuous mouldings with only the tiniest of capitals. The unusually wide hammerbeam roof is a marvellous survival. Eleven pairs of angels guard the space below, attended by lesser angels on the wallplates and by saints, martyrs, prophets and kings, 42 figures in all. On the frieze a medieval menagerie takes over, with dragons, unicorns, birds and fish. The south chapel is littered with pleasant brasses. The north aisle by the tower has its memorials spectacularly displayed. They climb up the wall to the ceiling, a valhalla of Bury worthies.