Bury St Edmunds has plenty to offer, here’s how to make the most of a trip to the town
Written by Abby Knight
One of the most important towns in Europe for its medieval roots, which are still evident today in the many buildings, Bury St Edmunds – once one of the Royal seats of the Saxon kings and home to the famous Greene King brewery – plays a major role in the success of Suffolk’s tourist industry with its host of interesting landmarks and places to visit. It’s also the perfect base to discover the rest of the county, shop, relax and stay.
With things to do and see all the year round – including the famous Bury in Bloom festival in May which sees the whole town decked out spring flowers – you shouldn’t miss the fabulous display in Abbey Gardens which form part of the 11th century Benedictine Abbey and which are open daily during the spring/summer months.
Pakenham Water Mill is a pretty 18th century mill which is still turning and still milling flour in the original way and this hidden location was recently revealed by TV chefs The Hairy Bikers who love to use it in their recipes.
You can found out more about the history and heritage of this town by visiting Moyse’s Hall Museum which has been everything from a jail to a school house since it was built in 1180 or be stunned by the beauty of St Edmundsbury Cathedral which has a spectacular Millennium tower.
Food and drink in Bury Edmunds
There are plenty of places to stay too – from the luxurious accommodation you’ll find at the Angel Hotel that also has a fine dining restaurant open to non-residents to the imposing Ickworkth Park Hotel with its pool and spa facilities. Or, for a more relaxed feel to your break check in to Lackford Lake Barns or Hilary House, a bed and breakfast close to the pretty village of Swafham Prior.
You’ll be spoilt for choice for where to eat – and drink – in Bury St Edmunds: for a real culinary experience make sure you reserve a table at Frederick’s Restaurant – super sophisticated dining in lovely surroundings with views overlooking Italianate gardens.
You can drink late at the Flex Bar Lounge and Club that has live music on most evenings or try the Ivory Bar for a cocktail or the decadently decorated Wingspan bar or listen to the cool sounds of jazz at the Hunter Club.
Things to do in Bury St Edmunds
A trip to Bury St Edmunds wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the ruins of ancient Bury at Bury St Edmunds Abbey, which has pretty gardens to stroll through and you can find out why Greene King’s beer is so popular – world wide – by taking the tour at the Greene King Brewery – a fun experience for all the family.
There’s year round music, drama and stand-up comedy to enjoy at the Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds. Originally built in 1819 its one of the Britain’s finest remaining Regency theatre which has been lovingly restored. Families will love West Stow Country Park which has plenty on offer to explore – whatever the weather!
The Farmers Market which was reintroduced only last year is open in the market place every second Sunday and offers a whole range of Suffolk produce – including the famous Bury loaf, cheese, sausages and English puddings.
Whether it’s a day trip, weekend or you have more time to spend in this historic and still flourishing town, you’ll not fail to be beguiled by Bury!
Tours in Bury St Edmunds
Look out for the official tour guides of Bury – a group of super knowledgeable locals who can help you discover more about the town. They wear blue and green badges and you can pick up more details at the tourist centre you’ll find in Charter Square.
St Edmundsbury Cathedral Tower Tours
The tower of St Edmundsbury Cathedral is arguably the town’s best known landmark and the new season of tours to the top of it is now underway. And even if you have been a ground floor visitor to this most impressive of buildings, you may want to get a while new view from on high.
Completed in 2005, Prince Charles was patron of the tower project and the brief for the tower was a simple one – for it to be constructed using traditional methods and materials which would last over 1,000 years.
At 170ft high, the tower keeps a watchful eye over the town of Bury St Edmunds and is a new addition to this church, Suffolk’s Cathedral which welcomes around 90,000 visitors a year.
The 202 steps to the top are worth the climb to see the world from the highest public accessible point in the town.Knowledgeable, friendly guides are ready to impart fascinating facts as you make you journey to the top of the tower.
It’s not a mad rush to the top, it’s done in stages, stopping off to admire the building from ever changing views as you make your way higher. Once you reach the summit, it’s a view to be photographed so don’t forget cameras and phones to mark the fact that you’ve made it to the top!
Back at ground level why not refresh yourselves in the cathedral’s Pilgrims’ Kitchen café which offers freshly prepared hot and cold lunches, cakes and Fairtrade refreshments along with free Wi-Fi.
Spend some time in the church itself, admire the stunning stained glass and donate £1 to lay a brick on the model of the cathedral being built out of 200,000 LEGO ® bricks.
St Edmundsbury Cathedral tower tours run from Wednesday to Sunday and last about 90 minutes and cost £10 per person.