“ Address: Abbey House / Angel Hill / Bury St Edmunds / IP33 1LS / Suffolk „
The cathedral in Bury St Edmunds is situated in the heart of this picturesque market town, on the edge of the Abbey Gardens (see separate review). It was originally part of the Abbey complex (of which mostly ruins remain) when it was the more humble St James's church. It became a cathedral in 1914 and more recently became known as the Cathedral Church of St James and St Edmund.
St Edmund was the 9th Century King of the East Angles and was killed by invading Danes, and was a former patron saint of England whose remains were later interred in the Abbey. The church itself is one of the few remaining parts of the Abbey complex, being originally built in the 11th Century, although much of it is more modern than that now. It is free to get in, but donations are always welcome. The cathedral is open daily from 8.30am to 6.00pm. In the summer there are guided tours at 11.30am (except Sundays). Although we visited in the summer, our visit coincided with graduation ceremonies from the University of East Anglia, so we missed the tours and visited on our own in the afternoon. There is a free colour leaflet which you can pick up to guide you.
The first thing you will see as you enter is a rather ornate font. Although the decoration is Victorian, the columns are much older than this, going back to medieval times. The 'new' nave is Tudor, built by John Wastell who apparently also worked on King's College in Cambridge and Canterbury Cathedral. The high alter and choral area is light and airy with a brightly decorated ceiling. The cathedral has a number of stained glass windows, they are mostly Victorian but there is one remaining that is Tudor.
One of my favourite parts of the cathedral is the Millennium Tower, which was completed in 2005, with its ceiling being added as recently as 2010. Around the inside is a number of coats of arms of other Anglican cathedrals. The area immediately beneath the tower is roped off, so getting a good photo of the ceiling of the tower is tricky.
The cathedral has a refectory attached in a more modern part of the building. We didn't eat here but it offers light refreshments as well as good value, simple lunches such as soups, sandwiches and hot meals. They also have a shop selling assorted books and gifts, both general and those with a local or religious slant.