From Rise to Ruins – Abbey of St Edmund Millennium 1020-2020

the ruins of St Edmund's Abbey and the cathedral tower

Celebrating the 1000th anniversary of the Abbey of St Edmund – Join the experts to discover more about the abbey’s remarkable history with a new series of online talks starting this November.

2020 marks the 1000th anniversary of the re-foundation of the religious community at Bury St Edmunds as a Benedictine abbey, under the patronage of King Cnut.

The abbey became one of the most influential in medieval Europe until its suppression in 1539. With such an enthralling history as a place of pilgrimage, riots and political innovation with links to the Magna Carta, it is truly an important historical landmark.

The extensive remains of the abbey precinct still survive today, enclosed mostly by its original wall and with the magnificent Abbey Gate built later in the 14th century. There is the cathedral which was formerly St James’ Church and the Norman Tower stands tall as the church’s original gateway. In the grounds of the precinct there is a beautiful botanical garden originally created in the early 18th century. This has preserved the ruins of the church and claustral ranges which gives you an idea of the impressive size and wealth of the abbey in the medieval period.

aerial photo of Abbey precinct and ruins
Aerial view of the remains of St Edmund’s Abbey © English Heritage

Time to Celebrate

Events are planned to celebrate the abbey’s millennium, starting with a series of online and freely accessible talks between November 2020 and March 2021. See the programme below:

  • Saturday 28 November 2020 at 2pm: The Abbey, the Antiquaries and the Archaeologists: Discovering the Abbey of St Edmund with Dr Richard Hoggett
  • Saturday 23 January 2021 at 2pm: From Rise to Riots: the Relationship Between the Abbey and the Town with Dr Abby Antrobus.
  • Saturday 27 February 2021 at 2pm: Patrons and Benefactors of St Edmund’s Abbey, c.900-1086 with Professor Sarah Foot.
  • Saturday 27 March 2021 at 2pm: The Abbey of Bury St Edmunds and the History of Suffolk with Professor Mark Bailey.

The talks are free and will be live streamed from the cathedral via the St Edmundsbury Cathedral’s Facebook page and the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History’s Facebook page.

Visit the SIAH website for full programme and access details. Further information can be found on the St Edmundsbury Cathedral website and What’s On West Suffolk website.

Heritage Fund Logo

The talks are funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and are organised by the Abbey of St Edmunds Heritage Partnership and the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History. Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service is an active partner in both organisations.

Further Information About the Abbey of St Edmund

The Abbey complex is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, view the entry here.

The gardens and precincts are now Grade II listed, view the listing here.

The History of Bury St Edmunds Abbey, English Heritage.

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