Exploring the historic streets of Bury St Edmunds

Mentioned in Shakespeare, visited by countless royals, and a preferred destination of Charles Dickens, Bury St Edmunds is a town that rightly claims to be bursting with history and charm. Replete with picturesque streets, mediaeval architecture, and vibrant cultural scene, it brings together the best of the past and the present. Whether you’re a history buff, a food lover, or simply seeking a leisurely stroll through quaint streets, Bury St Edmunds has something for everyone staying at our Barges and Barns for rent in Suffolk.

Join us on a virtual tour of its historic streets.

The Abbey Gardens and St Edmundsbury Cathedral

No better place to start – the Abbey Gardens is a serene park set within the ruins of the once-grand Abbey of St Edmund. Founded in 1020, the abbey was a significant pilgrimage site until its dissolution in 1539. The gardens today are a beautiful blend of manicured lawns, kaleidoscopic flower beds, and historic ruins. Take a moment to wander through the remains of the abbey and you won’t find it hard to imagine its former glory.

Adjacent to the gardens is St Edmundsbury Cathedral, a stunning example of Gothic architecture. The cathedral’s origins date back to the 11th century, but much of its current structure was built in the 16th century and later. You won’t want to miss the Millennium Tower, either. Completed in 2005, it adds a modern twist to this ancient place of worship. Make your way to the top and you can treat yourself to a panoramic view of the town.

Angel Hill

From the cathedral, head towards Angel Hill, a historic square that has witnessed centuries of events and changes. Here, you’ll find the Angel Hotel, an 18th-century coaching inn that has hosted famous figures like Charles Dickens.

The Nutshell and Greene King Brewery

A short walk from Angel Hill takes you to The Nutshell, reputedly the smallest pub in Britain. Complete with a mummified cat over the door, this tiny establishment has been serving locals and visitors alike since the 19th century. Despite its size, The Nutshell is big on character, with its walls draped with plenty of quirky memorabilia.

Bury St Edmunds is also known for its brewing heritage, and a visit to the Greene King Brewery is a must. Established in 1799, Greene King is one of the oldest and largest breweries in the UK and long time readers of our blog will have seen frequent mention of the tours on offer.

The Medieval Grid

Bury St Edmunds is laid out in a distinctive mediaeval grid pattern, with narrow streets and alleyways that call out to be explored. Stroll along Abbeygate Street and St John’s Street, where you’ll find an array of independent shops, boutiques, and cafés. The mix of mediaeval and Georgian buildings adds an undoubtedly charming backdrop to any shopping experience.

Moyse’s Hall Museum

For a deeper dive into the town’s history, visit Moyse’s Hall Museum. Located in a striking 12th-century building, the museum’s exhibits cover everything from local history and archaeology to crime and punishment. Our own personal highlights include a collection of mediaeval artefacts and stories about the town’s past residents, providing a fascinating glimpse into life in Bury St Edmunds over the centuries.

Theatre Royal and Apex

Round off your day with some culture at the Theatre Royal or the Apex. The Theatre Royal, opened in 1819, is the last surviving Regency playhouse in the UK and offers a range of performances, from classic plays to modern productions. The Apex, a contemporary venue, hosts concerts, comedy shows, and more, showcasing the town’s vibrant arts scene as it exists today.

Ultimately, exploring the historic streets of Bury St Edmunds is very much like stepping back in time. From its mediaeval roots and Georgian elegance to its modern cultural offerings, the town is a testament to its rich heritage. Whatever tickles your fancy from our list, we’re confident you’ll enjoy a day out here during a stay at our Barns and Barges for rent in Suffolk.

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