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HEAD EAST – History & Heritage The Abbey of St. Edmund 1000th Anniversary Celebrations

Bury St. Edmund’s, Suffolk is the location for a year of celebrations to mark 1000 years since the founding of the abbey of St. Edmund by King Canute.


The first Patron Saint of England and King of East Anglia, Saint Edmund was enshrined in the Abbey lending his name to the town. People from across the country and abroad would come to visit, as the Abbey became one of the most famous pilgrimage locations in England.

The Abbey was destroyed during the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539. Edmund’s bejewelled shrine was plundered, but his body was missing and never recovered. It is believed it was moved and reburied somewhere in the Abbey’s grounds and today the ruins are surrounded by the Abbey Gardens and visited by over 1.3 million visitors a year.


In this year of celebrations, here are some of the highlights and include:


Suffolk Philharmonic Orchestra

The orchestra celebrates its tenth anniversary this year as it presents a musical celebration of 1000 years of the Abbey of St. Edmund. With Leslie Olive as conductor, the concert will include a new work, Into The Light, by composer Paul Carr for soloists, a large choir and full symphony orchestra, commissioned especially for the Abbey’s anniversary year. The programme will also include works by Parry, Britten and Elgar and contributions from The English Arts Chorale, Eye Bach Choir and James Gilchrist, tenor.

To find out more and book tickets click here
(St. Edmundsbury Cathedral, Bury St. Edmunds. Runs 28 May)


Exhibition of seven Abbey Manuscripts in the Cathedral Treasury

This is the first time that the manuscripts are reunited in their place of origin since 1539. Handwritten and decorated by monks in the Abbey, they are on loan from Pembroke College, Cambridge where they were donated by William Smart (Portreeve of Ipswich) in 1599.

Free entry. Hours various. To book timed entry click here
(Cathedral Treasury, 2 May–9 June 2022).


New Heritage Trail

A new Heritage Trail around the town centre has been created by ‘Our Bury St Edmunds’ BID, and historian author Martyn Taylor (see photo above) running from 30 May until 20 November.

Details to be announced.


Abbey Crypt Sculptures exhibition (May – November 2022)

A monthly changing display of sculptures will be installed between May and November in the crypt within the Abbey ruins, where the shrine of St. Edmund would have stood. The first sculpture will be a giant monk (7ft 6ins tall), made from 2mm thick steel and weighing some 250kg, designed by Nigel Kaines and made by blacksmith Kevin Baldwin from Designs on Metal.

Free access. For more information and opening hours click here
Map of the Abbey Gardens here (credit
(Abbey Gardens, 34 Abbeygate Street, Bury St. Edmund’s, Suffolk. Runs till Nov)



An invitation to nature lovers from Bury Water Meadows Group to join BioBlitz, a hunt for as many species of plant, insect and animal that can be found in the Abbey Gardens and water meadows

For timings and to find out more click here.
(Abbey Gardens and water meadows, Bury St. Edmund’s. Runs May 20 and 21)


Bury in Bloom and the Cathedral Flower Exhibition

Fabulous floral displays specially designed by flower clubs around the county will depict the 10 centuries of the Abbey from 1020 to 2020. There will also be a fly through video of the Abbey ruins showing how the great Abbey Church and the Shrine of St. Edmund would have looked during its heyday is being produced using cutting edge CGI.

Free to attend. To find out more click here
(St. Edmundsbury Cathedral, Angel Hill, Bury St. Edmunds. Runs 22 till 26 June)


Moyse’s Hall Museum exhibition

Helping to tell the story of St Edmund and the Abbey, The Abbey of St Edmund: Artisan and Pilgrimage exhibition will include new and original stained glass and original pilgrims’ badges. There will also be touch screen displays plus family workshops and master classes in medieval craft skills. There will be an evening lecture programme inviting some of the best historians to share their knowledge and explore the rich history and artisan work within the Abbey and beyond.

Exhibition, free to attend. Lecture series to be announced. To find out more click here
(Moyse’s Hall Museum, Bury St. Edmunds. Runs from 1 July till 30 September)


St. Edmunds’ Day Spectacle of Light

In partnership with West Suffolk College, a three evening Spectacle of Light will take place over St. Edmund’s Day weekend. Showing 3D images of illuminated manuscripts from the Abbey, projected onto the historic Norman Tower and the Cathedral Tower and an enchanting light trail through the Abbey ruins in the historic Abbey Gardens. This will be an event not to be missed.

Details to follow
(Abbey Gardens, Bury St. Edmunds. Runs 17 – 20 November 2022)


To find out about all events taking place from May till the end of 2022 click here.




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