The historic jewel in the Suffolk crown, Bury St Edmunds is a delightful combination of heritage architecture alongside tasteful modern design.
The cultural and retail centre for West Suffolk, tourism is a major part of the local economy thanks to the wealth of famous landmarks right across the town. The impressive abbey ruins are usually first on the ‘must-see’ list. Once a towering monastery, the abbey was originally built around a shrine to Saint Edmund, making it a point of pilgrimage for both peasants and kings. Although the abbey walls have crumbled, visitors can take themselves back in time while walking through the ruins, reading the many interesting information tables and basking in the beauty of the adjoining gardens.
Bury St Edmunds is also home to the only cathedral in Suffolk – St Edmundsbury Cathedral – which for over 1,000 years has been a place of worship and pilgrimage.
The Angel Hotel, adorned with trailing ivy, stands proud opposite the town’s famous Pillar of Salt (thought to be the first internally illuminated road sign in the country). This Georgian coaching inn was frequented by Charles Dickens on his trips to the town, and the writer immortalised his affection for the inn by mentioning it in Pickwick Papers: ‘The coach rattled through the streets of a handsome town of thriving and cleanly appearance and stopped before a large Inn situated in a wide open street facing the old abbey. “This must be Bury St Edmunds, and this” said Mr Pickwick, looking up, “is the Angel”.’
Bury St Edmunds is also home to the Theatre Royal – a must-visit for theatre lovers and history buffs, being the only surviving Regency playhouse in Britain. Once inside its hallowed walls, visitors can experience what going to the theatre was like in pre-Victorian times.
Well known for its brewing and malting heritage thanks to Greene King, it goes without saying that Bury St Edmunds houses many excellent pubs and bars. Beer drinkers are certainly in for a treat as they can book a guided tour of the Greene King Brewery and learn all the secrets behind some world-famous drinks. The most well-known of the pubs is most likely The Nutshell – which at 15ft by 7ft is officially the smallest pub in Britain and is rumored to be haunted!
Shoppers and foodies can certainly find their fill from Bury St Edmunds’ twice-weekly market as well as the boutique shops, cosy restaurants and delightful delis dotted around the town centre.
With prestigious shopping, an award-winning market, plus variety of attractions and places to stay, Bury St Edmunds is under two hours from London and very convenient for Cambridge. With such close proximity to the countryside, Bury St Edmunds offers such a vibrant and diverse lifestyle – you simply must experience it.