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Hi writing this review about Bury St Edmunds as i have lived here for 14 years now. The town is quite small with a population of just over 35,000 i beleive. Bury St Edmunds is a very interesting town with a lot of history and character and is home to Britains smallest pub known as The Nutshell.
Bury St Edmunds has a very old town centre and oiginally started life as a market town, there is still a market here every Saturday and Wednesday.
The town centre is very compact with everything being close to hand and all shops not to far away.
There has just been a new shopping centre built with restaraunts such as Frankie and Bennys, and a KFC. There is a new cinema here as well which is top quality and also new stores such as Debenhams and Animal.
There are plenty of social activities available, with snooker halls, bowling alleys, and a leisure centre. all being present here.
Bury St Edmunds has very good transport links with a train station, bus station and a major dual carraigeway the A14 allowing you to select either West, Central, or East Bury.
The Abbey Gardens is a very picturesque place based in the grounds of a Benadictine Abbey. Literally in 1min from the town centre. There is an avery here with a small but colourful collection of birds, a tea rooms an a place to buy ice-cream. There is also a golf putting green.
There is plenty of grass here to sit on and enjoy the sun if your lucky enough after doing your shopping, a childrens park and a river with wild,ducks, geese and swans. There is also a kids playground here.
Quite a small town but growing all the time a nice town centre to walk around and look at, overall a good place to visit if passing if nothing else. The town is kept very clean and crime levels seem to be minimal.
If you are going to write about a place please get your facts straight - however trivial. It is Greene King not green. The Bury Free Press is 55p. Frankie and Benny's not Johnny's. The Bay Tree not Leaf is not in the same street as Starbucks, the leisure centre was closed due to a fire it was not burned down to the ground. The Manor House Museum closed in March 2006!.
I have lived in Bury St Edmunds for 19 years, and it, more than any other place, is my home. I met my second husband, Sam here, both of my children met and married their partners here and I expected to remain here now for the duration until we decided a couple of years ago that we wanted to sell up and buy a liveaboard Dutch barge and cruise the European Waterways until the end of our days...but that's another story!
We actually moved to a little village about 10 miles outside of the town, nine years ago, on my 50th birthday but we both worked in the town until Sam retired 2 years ago and I took early retirement 3 months ago and therefore, most of our lives have actually been spent in Bury St Edmunds itself, fondly known to the locals as BSE. (Despite the unpleasant association!)
BSE has been in the National papers more than once, and in the local Bury Free Press, (which costs 32P and isnt therefore free.) For instance there was a lot of interest when the Rothschild and the Goldsmith sprogs tied the knot at St Mary's church, next to the Cathedral, a couple of years back in September. My daughter Rowena and her soldier boy Mack also got married at St Marys a month earlier. If they'd waited, they'd have been able to use the wonderful flowers, which extended to numerous bowers of white roses outside the church! These were given away to onlookers after the ceremony, which was attended by royalty, and lots of famous people. St Mary's is a beautiful modified Norman church built in 1120. Its full of stained glass windows and carvings. It is the largest in Suffolk and has the longest aisle in Europe. It is steeped in history, as is the town itself and many famous people are buried there including Henry VIIIs sister Mary Tudor.
Bury St Edmunds was originally known as Bedericsworth and was renamed after the remains of Edmund, the king of the East Angles was brought here in 869AD after he had been beheaded by invading Danes near Norwich. They built a shrine to him and 200 years later an Abbey was built around the shrine. This was dissolved in 1539 by Henry VIII and only ruins remain. Edmund was canonised and became St Edmund, hence the Bury of St Edmund. St Edmundsbury is the Mother Church of Suffolk but the Cathedral building is still being built, having been begun in 1503 and becoming a Cathedral in 1914 thats an awfully long time!
Next to the Cathedral is the huge and imposing Abbey Gate, which is the entrance to not only the Cathedral itself, but also the Abbey Gardens and these are quite famous, having won the town many awards. The original Gate was Norman but was damaged in an uprising in 1327 and later rebuilt. It leads you to a large expanse of wonderfully laid out formal gardens and lawns, with a few more secluded areas called The Old English Garden, The Water Garden and The Blind Garden, this one is full of scents as you might expect.
You can find the ruins of the old Abbey among the gardens and I can feel the history around me when I touch the old stones. They emit an unmistakable aura of the past and are a constant reminder of our heritage.
There are swans, ducks and geese to be found on the river Lark, at the edge of the Gardens and plenty of childrens play equipment for the younger visitors. You can also hire tennis courts and play bowls, hiring your equipment from the gift shop. Of course you can buy an assortment of gifts here, including many of local interest. There is also a tearoom, with tables outside on a sunny day, selling drinks and snacks. Entrance to the Gardens is between dawn and dusk and it is one of the rare activities nowadays that is free.
The Cathedral also has its own gift shop selling items of local interest and of a religious theme and it also has a tea shop. You will find this to be a little more refined than the Gardens tearooms, but the prices are also higher. The Cathedral hosts lots of large exhibitions, concerts and events, and also gives frequent lunchtime concerts on Wednesdays, which is market day. Admission to these lunchtime sessions is always free too.
There used to be more pubs than churches in this part of Suffolk and there may well still be.There are certainly more pubs in the centre of town than churches. There is one more church in the centre that I can recall, in St Johns Street, called St Johns church and it has a very imposing spire. This church is known for frequently hosting Free Trade and WI fairs on various weekdays. In this same street are two pubs, and, opposite to the church, a sex shop called Secrets.
One of these pubs, The Bushel, is opposite where I used to work and so is frequented by civil servants from both the Dept for Works and Pensions and the adjacent Inland Revenue. Despite this, its a pleasant place to visit, an old and very atmospheric pub with a separate restaurant area, an outside garden area, a pool table and an inexpensive menu. It's also very friendly. We have many pubs in the town centre alone, one of which, The Nutshell, is reputed to be the smallest in England and although Ive had a drink outside of this pub, Ive never been able to get inside it, as its always full, especially on market days. The building is very quaint and looks like something out of Dickens, but then, many of the building do.There are pubs galore in almost every street and they are all situated in old buildings, often with wonky walls, uneven floors and wooden beams on the ceiling, because all of the buildings in this historic town are very old. dating back to Norman times or earlier. Most of the pubs have modern interiors, but they all retain some of the ambiance of this place and all of them will offer something different.
Ive heard it said that there arent many shops in BSE. This is rubbish. Surrounding the large Art Gallery which is in the centre of town are the usual Woolworth, Boots, Jessops, WH Smith, Burton, Thornton, Iceland, Next, Mothercare, Argos, Superdrug, M&S, Size-UP, Ottaker, Palmer,Dixon, numerous shoe shops, butchers, card shops, jewellers, charity shops and toy shops. On the outskirts of town we have the larger supermarkets like Waitrose, Tesco and Sainsbury. We also have some pretty specialised shops, including the aforementioned sex shop. This is your usual adult videos, clothing, books and other adult toys. We have a Model shop selling not only actual models but the means with which to build your own models. Theres a Belgian chocolate shop which also sells sugar free liquorice, a dolls house furniture shop, a pawn shop, a second hand computer games shop, several mobile phone shops, a couple of specialised computer shops, a curtain exchange, an extreme sports shop, a fishing tackle shop, a carpet bag shop and a couple of second hand book shops .to name but a few. There is also a specialised tobacco shop where you can buy rich, aromatic mixtures to smoke in your pipe. This shop sells specialised coffee beans too and will grind them to your own mixture. I can spend an age just window-shopping in the town centre.
I mentioned the markets. On Wednesdays there used to be a large cattle market, when a building in the middle of one of the main town car parks was filled with sheep, pigs and all manner of other animals being sold by the farmers hereabouts, but this has been stopped now, in favour of building a huge multiplex cinema complex just on the edge of town and what used to be the old cattle market is being converted into a huge car park to take the extra cars. It took a while and was hotly debated but this complex has now been built along with a KFC, Frankie and Johnnys, Tootsies and other upmarket eateries. Meanwhile, every Saturday and Wednesday, in the central square, there is a market selling fruit and veg, speciality teas and coffees, cheap groceries, clothes, flowers, Cd's and almost anything you can imagine. This starts around 8 in the morning and if you visit late in the day, around 4pm, you can pick up many bargains as all the stallholders are trying to sell off their fresh produce before they have to pack up.
There are also enough cafés and eating places to sink a battleship. We also now boast a Starbucks, although the first time Sam went in there and asked for a coffee, he almost socked the attendant who wouldn't stop offering him choices! ("I just want a cup of b****y coffee")There used to be a little coffee shop in St John's Street that sold the most delicious Java in huge cardboard cartons. It did all the usual lattes and flavours too but Starbucks has put paid to that! There's also a café called The Bay Leaf in the same street where you can meet friends for a no frills but very tasty snack. There are a couple of specialised sandwich bars that will make whatever you want while you wait, to take away, and a bakery in Abbeygate street where you can not only buy freshly baked bread and pastries, but also sit and eat them. Harriets is an old fashioned café in the central square, where the waitresses dress in little black frocks with a white frilly apron (like the costumes you can buy in the sex shop). The waitresses, however, are hired for their skills in waitressing and not necessarily for their looks. M & S and Boots have a great selection from Sushi to "meal deals" if you want to take something back to the office and all of the pubs offer variations on the "pie and a pint " theme.
We have a Burger King and a MacDonald (who doesn't) a Café Uno, a Pizza Hut, Cafe Rouge, Tapas Bar, several Chinese, Indian, Tai, Greek restaurants including The Beefeater on Angel Hill who really do the best Greek food in the town. Sam loves the Sheftalia here. We have a small number of fish and chip shops and Peggottys, which is reputed to be the best seafood restaurant in Suffolk. (Not liking seafood, I haven't tried it) There seem to be new restaurants opening each week! All of these places are in the centre itself, or in one of the small streets leading off.
The most imposing building in the middle of all of this, is the building that houses the Art Gallery. It's called The Market Cross and has a considerable history. Much of the building and the town centre was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1608 and then rebuilt in 1620. It was used for the Duke of Graftons Company of Comedians until 1818 and in 1864 Liszt performed there. Now as well as featuring famous Suffolk artists like Constable and Gainsborough, it regularly shows work by new local artists.
BSE also has a Museum of Art and Horology in the 18th century restored Manor House Museum and a Museum of local history in Moyses Hall, an impressive Norman building. There is also a museum of brewing artefacts and techniques situated in the Green King Brewery, round the corner from St Marys Church, next to the main Police Station and Courtrooms. I expect that everyone has heard of the famous Green King beer, Abbots Ale which is the main brew on sale around here, although we do have one or two real ale pubs. Its very strong in both taste and alcoholic content.
Across the road from the brewery you can find the BSE Theatre Royal, a beautiful Georgian theatre run by the National Trust. It is small but perfectly formed with wonderful acoustics. I have been to see shows, pantomimes and plays there and Sam has performed there when he was a professional musician/singer before he met me, sadly. This place is well worth a visit.
There is also a large Mecca Bingo Hall which has been recently refurbished and although I haven't been for some time, I can tell you that it serves food and drinks at very reasonable prices and is a complete no-smoking establishment. The town also has a ten-pin bowling alley and several snooker halls and there are other sports facilities and horse riding on the outskirts. Night life exists, though it will be tame compared to the larger cities. There are three of four nightclubs and several specialist clubs, like the British Legion. Many of the pubs have live bands and/or karaoke in the evening.
The highlight of the year is the Bury Festival in the summer. This is a full blown carnival with floats and a procession through the town ending at the Abbey Gardens. The Queen is chosen and crowned before the procession then paraded in one of the floats. The Gardens then are filled with fairground rides, stalls and music and it usually ends with a grand fireworks display. Later, in the autumn, the Gardens are filled with huge marquees when the Bury Beer Festival gets underway. This lasts for a complete weekend and you can sample not only the whole range of Green King ales but also a host of guest beers.
There have been many other Events in the Abbey Gardens, notably an Abba Festival with most of those attending in costume! There is a huge fireworks display here every Guy Fawkes Night too.
The town has its own Leisure Centre situated only a fifteen minute walk from the town centre The whole complex burned down last year and has now been renovated at huge cost. There are several beauty salons and hairdressers. There is a Fitness First Gym near to the railway station, a ten-minute walk from the own centre. The Public Library is opposite the Bus Station, which is next to JobcentrePlus where I used to work, and again, only minutes away from the centre of town. The buses to outlying villages are fairly frequent, though there are not many services out of the town after 6pm. There is a bus connection direct to Stanstead. The town has a vast choice of hotels, guest houses and B&Bs to suit all budgets.
I have tried to keep this review concentrated on the town of Bury St Edmunds itself, but there is an abundance of interesting places to visit in the outlying areas, including historical houses, castles and gardens, working windmills and watermills, animal parks and zoos, giant car boot sales and craft/antique fayres. There are also several RAF and USAF bases around the town, so aircraft enthusiasts would love it. I could go on and on, but I hope that Ive made my point.
Bury St Edmunds is well worth a visit. More info can be found at www.stedmunds.co.uk
Before deserting for the bright lights of the big city I lived in a village close to Bury for 17 years. The village that I lived in, Depden is about 7 miles away from the town and Bury is the closest town to it. Bury is quite a small town with a population of around 30,000 people. It is an old town with many buildings dating back many centuries. The Magna Carta was even signed in Bury abbey! (wow). The town centre is quite small and does not have a very good selection of shops. It has some of the main branch stores such as Woolworths and Marks and Spencers, but if you are after something more specialised then you need to take a trip to either Cambridge or Ipswich, both of which are around 30 miles away in opposite directions. For example, I am a DJ and the only record shop (Andy's Records) has a shocking collection of vinyl, so regular trips to Cambridge are needed to get my 'fix' of vinyl. Indidently Andy's records was started in Bury by Andy Gray who had a stall on Bury market and has now built it up to a nationwide chain, amazing, and my mate plays cricket with him. Well, you learn a new thing everyday. There are three main industries in Bury, the tourist trade, the sugarbeet factory and the Greene King brewery. Bury is tailor made for tourists, it is very picturesque and contains quite a lot of history, such as the abbey, the Norman tower and about a million museums. It is also very close to loads of little villages that tourists seem to find rather fascinating. The sugarbeet factory dominates the Bury sky line and can even be seen from my house on a clear day, this is because for some reason best known to themselves they decided to build it on the tallest hill in Bury, what a move. This means you can smell it for miles and miles, great. The brewery also stinks and makes rank IPA, but nevermind. Bury doesn't have much of a nightlife, there are quite a few pubs but most of them are 'traditional' pubs to appe
al to the tourists and the ones that aren't seem to go into disco mode at 8.30 by turning down the lights, turning up the music (generally 'party anthems') and turning on some flashing lights that are left over from Christmas. Just what you want on a Thursday night. The town now has 4 nightclubs, 3 of which are owned by luminar leisure. The main one, Brazilias, has a capacity of 600 and plays party anthems with your resident DJ Chappers. It's terrible. Whatever is more a late liscensed bar with a small dancefloor, it's open til 12 during the week and 2 at the weekend for all Bury's wild party animals. The Avenue is siuated above Whatever and caters for an older crowd. Pestellos has only just opened and is trying to be underground with hard house and drum and bass nights, though I'm not sure how well this will go down in Bury. Bury also has a small cinema but if you are over about 4 ft then you'll never fit in the seats and the screen is only about the size of a large TV. There were plans for a new multiplex cinema, but the opposition of many of Bury's small minded residents has put a stop to that. If eating out is your thing Bury also has quite a few nice restaurants and cafes, but most are quite expensive. Overall Bury is a 'nice' place to live, it has a very low crime rate, low unemployment, has hardly any drugs for a town of it's size and is generally quite a safe place to live. If I had to bring up a family then Bury would be a good place to do it, it's quite sheltered from the outside world. Of course when you are young then Bury is one of the most boring places in the world, there is a very poor nightlife and before you get to an age to start going out then there is even less to do. This is partly to do with the councils policy of not wanting to change anything as someone might object, when a new nightclub tried to open then it was refused permission because of noise concerns, but then again they do
not see the need for change and I suppose I can now see the reasons. So, in conclusion, Bury, a nice place to live, but not if you're young.
Bury St Edmunds is just about 16 miles from my home town of Haverhill (also in Suffolk). I am in a wheelchair, and find that Bury St Edmunds isn't wheelchair friendly at all. However, it is a pretty town with a priory,(complete with a some caged birds and wild ducks+geese). Where on a nice summers day you could spend the day with a picnic! The town has a vast selection of shop's, although many of the big stores are out of the town centre, and require transport. While Bury is a pretty nice town, it is by far my favourite!