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Bury St Edmunds

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Bury St Edmunds [1], or simply Bury, is a historic market town in the county of Suffolk, in England. At the very centre of East Anglia, the town was established by the Saxons in the 10th century, and its growth was focused around the Abbey of St Edmund. The Abbey grew to become the fourth-largest monastery in Europe and an important site of pilgrimage prior to its dissolution in 1539, since when it became a source of quarry stone for local builders, such that only remnants remain. Today the ruins of the Abbey form part of the Abbey Gardens, a pleasant public park, but the town's Medieval heritage is still visible in much of the street plan of the town centre which has not changed in 1000 years.

The town developed significantly after the dissolution of the Abbey through wealth from agriculture which has always been abundant in West Suffolk. Most of the buildings in the "historic core" of the town are timber-framed Medieval buildings hidden behind brick Georgian fronts, added as symbols of status by wealthy merchants at that time. Some of the grander public buildings - for example the Robert Adam art gallery, built originally as the Corn Exchange, and its Victorian counterpart - reflect directly the agricultural heritage of the area; a heritage which continues to this day with the presence of the Greene King brewery in the centre of the town and a large British Sugar factory on the outskirts. The town has always been famous for its markets - originally a twice-weekly provisions market and a weekly cattle market but now just the provisions market. Bury is also famous for its floral displays, and in recent years has won many awards for these, including the prestigious 'Nations in Bloom' title, contested by towns and cities worldwide.

Because of its position at the "crossroads of East Anglia" (as the town is known), Bury is a popular base for exploring the whole of this region of England. It is not a large town in itself so is easy to explore on a day trip or a relaxing weekend/short break; however it is within easy range of many interesting locations such as Newmarket, Cambridge, Lavenham, Long Melford, Norwich and the Suffolk and Norfolk coastlines - and so is frequently used as a base for a longer holiday.

Get in[edit]

By air[edit]

There are no direct flights to Bury St Edmunds. Nearest airports are:

All of these airports are accessible via road or public transport direct to Bury St Edmunds (see below).

London Heathrow Airport and London Gatwick Airport are both accessible via car or public transport from London (see below).

Birmingham Airport, East Midlands Airport and Manchester Airport are all accessible by car via the A14 road, or public transport via Cambridge, Ely or Peterborough (see below).

By sea[edit]

Bury St Edmunds is situated about 50 miles inland of the easternmost coast of England. The UK's largest container port at Felixstowe is 40 miles away and acts as a destination port for worldwide cargo ship cruises[2]. For more conventional ship travel, the nearest passenger ferry port is at Harwich (48 miles) for the Netherlands, Denmark and cruises to Germany and Scandinavia. The English south coast ports of Ramsgate (139 miles - for Belgium), Dover (also 139 miles - for France), Folkestone (138 miles - for France via Eurotunnel car shuttle services), Newhaven (159 miles - for France), and Portsmouth (170 miles - for France and Spain) are accessible by road and public transport.

By rail[edit]

From London:

  • National Express East Anglia train services from London Liverpool Street station (1hr 51mins - some direct, some via a change at Ipswich (30mins))
  • First Capital Connect train services from London Kings Cross station (1hr 40min - all require a change onto National Express East Anglia services at Cambridge (45mins) or Ely (25mins))

From Scotland and the north and midlands of England, avoiding London:

  • East Coast, East Midlands Trains and Cross Country train services from Scotland, the north and the midlands (including East Midlands, Birmingham and Manchester airports) stop at Peterborough and Ely, from where National Express East Anglia services run to Bury St Edmunds (1hr or 25mins)

From Europe:

  • Eurostar train services from France and Belgium to Stratford International (London) station or London St Pancras International station. From Stratford International station, take the Docklands Light Railway to Stratford Regional station (5 mins) for train services to Bury St Edmunds via a change at Shenfield, Ipswich or Stowmarket (from 1hr 50mins). From St Pancras International Station, walk to London Kings Cross station (2 mins) for Cambridge train as above.
  • National Express East Anglia train services from Harwich International port (ferry connections to Scandinavia and the Netherlands) direct to Bury St Edmunds (1hr 6mins).
  • South Eastern train services to Stratford International (London) station from Dover (1hr 4mins - for ferry connections to France) and Ramsgate (1hr 11mins - for ferry connections to Belgium). Trains to Bury St Edmunds from Stratford Regional station as above.

From London Stansted Airport:

  • Cross Country train services to Cambridge or Ely and change onto National Express East Anglia services to Bury St Edmunds (from 1hr 30mins).

From Norwich Airport:

  • Taxi or First Eastern Counties bus 27 from the airport to Norwich Railway Station. National Express East Anglia train service to Stowmarket, Ipswich, Ely or Cambridgeand change onto services to Bury St Edmunds (from 1hr 40mins).

From London Southend Airport:

  • Taxi or Arriva buses 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, or 9 from the airport to Southend Victoria Railway Station. National Express East Anglia train service to Shenfield and change onto services to Bury St Edmunds (from 2hrs 3mins).

From London Luton Airport:

  • First Capital Connect train services to London St Pancras International station and walk to London Kings Cross station (2 mins) for Cambridge train as above; or First Capital Connect train services to London Farringdon station and London Underground tube services to London Liverpool St station for National Express East Anglia services to Bury St Edmunds as above (from 3hrs 10mins).

From London City Airport:

  • Docklands Light Railway and London Underground services to Stratford (London) or London Liverpool Street stations for train services to Bury St Edmunds via a change at Shenfield, Ipswich or Stowmarket as above (from 2hrs).

Bury St Edmunds Railway Station is on Station Hill. To get to the centre of town, either catch First Eastern Counties buses 80, 81 or 82 to Bury St Edmunds bus station; take a taxi; or walk down Northgate Street (15 mins).

By coach/bus[edit]

From London:

  • National Express[4] coaches NX496 and NX497 services from London (Stratford) and London (Victoria) (from 1hr 50mins).

From Scotland and the north and midlands of England, avoiding London:

  • National Express coach NX350 from Liverpool (10hrs 45mins), Manchester (8hrs 45mins), Sheffield (7hrs 10mins) and other connecting cities and towns (via Peterborough and Cambridge).

From Cambridge (for connections to Birmingham, Oxford and other cities and towns):

  • National Express coach NX350 as above (1hr 10mins).
  • Stagecoach in Cambridge bus 11 (57mins).
  • Whippet Coaches buses B, D, E and H (45mins - summer service only).

From London Stansted Airport:

  • National Express coach JL727 to Newmarket (50mins) then coaches NX496, NX497, NX350 (25mins) or Stagecoach in Cambridge bus 11 (27mins) or Whippet Coaches buses B, D, E and H (15mins) to Bury St Edmunds.

From Norwich Airport:

  • Norse bus 603 from the airport park and ride to Norwich Bus Station. National Express coach 490 to Thetford. Change onto Coach Services bus 84 to Bury St Edmunds (from 2hrs 30mins).

From London Southend Airport:

  • First Essex coach X30 from the airport to Stansted Airport (1hr 36mins) then coach/bus to Bury St Edmunds via Newmarket as above.

From London Luton Airport:

  • National Express airport coach 787 to Cambridge (1hr 35mins) then coach/bus to Bury St Edmunds as above.

By car[edit]

The A14 is the main road serving Bury St Edmunds. It runs from Birmingham to Felixstowe and connects the town to London (via the M11/A11).

Get around[edit]

On foot[edit]

  • Almost all of Bury St Edmunds itself is accessible on foot. The town is small and even from the furthest points, it is not more than a 45 minute walk to the centre. Accommodation is likely to be located in the town centre and from there it is possible to reach many restaurants, bars and attractions. Much of the town centre is pedestrianised on market days (Wednesdays and Saturdays).

By bus[edit]

  • First Eastern Counties [5]

By bicycle[edit]

  • Much of the town is equipped with cycle lanes; cycling around Bury St Edmunds is normally safe and easy.

See[edit][add listing]

  • Abbey Gardens, Angel Hill. Daily dawn-dusk. Boasts wonderful flower displays and excellent lawns providing a beautiful relaxed environment to spend a sunny afternoon in summer. The gardens also contain a children's playground and a bridge from which the many ducks and geese may be fed. Don't miss the sensory garden designed for people with visual impairments and focusing on sound and scent rather than colorful flower arrangements as the rest of the gardens. The ruins of the Benedictine monastery are freely open to wander around; and the Great Churchyard opening out from the Abbey Gardens towards St Mary's Church provides an atmospheric walk. Free.  edit
  • Greene King Brewery Visitor Centre, +44 1284 714297 (), [6]. The largest independent brewery in the UK. Provides tours. You can sample local Greene King ales in almost any local pub.  edit
  • St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Angel Hill, +44 1284 748720 (), [7]. Daily 8AM-6PM. Visitors are welcome to look around the Cathedral on their own. Originally one of the Abbey's churches, was made a Cathedral in 1914. Extensive additions in the Gothic style in the 1960's to early 2000's, culminating in the magnificent Tower completed as a Millennium Project. Free.  edit
  • Moyse's Hall Museum, [8]. Moyse's Hall is located inside one of the oldest standing buildings in Bury St Edmunds. A small museum, but with interesting exhibits, mostly focused on local history.  edit
  • Theatre Royal, [9]. The sole surviving Regency playhouse in the UK, recently restored to its former glory. Owned by the National Trust but runs a full theatrical programme. Guided tours available.  edit
  • Ickworth House and Parks, Horringer, Bury St Edmunds, [10]. Located in Horringer, a small village 5 minutes drive away from Bury St Edmunds, Ickworth House and Parks is the a National Trust property and former residence of the Marquis of Bristol. The splendid house is set in acres of grounds, including elegantly sculpted gardens, lakes, walks, a children's play area and a deer enclosure.  edit

Do[edit][add listing]

With the leisure centre, Cinema and bowling alley just on the edge of town there's entertainment for all the family. If you are without children, walk aroyund the historic town, visit the abbey gardens for a walk and picnic or go a little further out of town and find many well kept parks with wildlife and gorgeous long walks.

  • Cineworld Multiplex Cinema, Parkway, [11].  edit
  • Theatre Royal, Westgate Street, +44 1284 769505 (), [12].  edit
  • Bury St Edmunds Registered Tour Guides, Tourist Information Centre, 6 Angel Hill, +44 1284 764667 (), [13]. Explore Bury St Edmunds and its history with several walking tours on offer with Registered Guides  edit
  • Bury Festival, [14]. Held annually in May/June, the Bury Festival is growing quickly. With outdoor events held in the Abbey Gardens and others at various venues around the town, the festival hosts a combination of film, theatre, music (pop and classical), arts, comedy and other things to appeal to any traveller.  edit

Buy[edit][add listing]

Bury has most of the larger chains of shops such as Next, Dorothy Perkins, Burton etc. A controversial new shopping development has recently opened on the former site of the cattle market which houses more chain stores, with a Debenhams the focal point. A few local places include:

  • Market. W and Sa. The town fills with stalls selling coffee, fruit & veg, pictures, flowers, hardware etc. Worth a visit, but sometimes the fruit & veg can be a little over ripe. Some good bargains.  edit
  • Barwells, 39 Abbeygate Street, +44 1284 754084 (), [15]. Mo-Sa. An award winning food and wine shop. They sell a wide range of game, venison, meats, delicious sweet and savoury pies, wines and gourmet food products. Their Christmas pudding is second to none and popular all year round. On a Saturday there is a hot-dog stand outside the shop selling hot-dogs and steak burgers. Delicious! On Saturdays Barwell's often give out free tasters of their food and their shop keeper will pick out a dessert wine just for you to try. Apparently, he only has to look at someone to know what wine to choose.  edit
  • Bury Chocolate Shop, 77a St John's Street, 01284 724555, [16]. A small local business which sells, unsurprisingly, chocolates and other confectionery. Whether a bar of gourmet chocolate, a traditional sugar mouse or some of their fine range of selected chocolates, the Bury chocolate shop will sell you the best.  edit
  • Lilyo, 77b St John's Street, (01284) 766 330 (), [18]. M-Sa 10AM-5PM. Another local business selling handmade modern pearl jewelery. You can buy a beautiful piece from the extensive collection in the shop or ask the owner to make a unique one to your particular taste. Prices vary depending on the complexity of the piece but overall it is very reasonable. They also sell gloves, scarves, bags, photo albums and cards.  edit

Eat[edit][add listing]

Bury St Edmunds is home to many different restaurants. A quick walk around the town centre will reveal places suited to every taste and wallet.

  • Maison Bleue, Churchgate St, [19]. Probably the best restaurants in Bury, Maison Bleue menu focuses on fish. Modern decor, and a convenient situation in the town centre add to the attractions of this restaurant which has sister restaurants in Lavenham and Ipswich.  edit
  • Baileys 2, Whiting Street. A local coffee shop serving tasty homemade meals such as soup, pasta, a wide range of sandwiches, toasties, salads and homemade cakes. Excellent coffees. The perfect spot to lunch. Generous portions and a good price.  edit
  • VC, Churchgate St. VC is a modern Indian restaurant in the heart of Bury St Edmunds. Good service and great food combine with a contemporary interior to provide a very enjoyable experience.  edit
  • Old Cannon Brewery, [20]. A pub/restaurant that brews three of its own beers in an otherwise Greene King dominated town. Reasonably priced good food and drink.  edit
  • Zen Noodle Bar, Angel Lane, [21]. Tasty and reasonable Chinese food (with a bias towards noodle-based dishes). Lots of options for vegetarians.  edit
  • The Grid, 34 Abbeygate Street. A friendly local restaurant serving delicious contemporary takes on traditional cuisine using local and seasonal produce. Staff are exceptionally friendly and helpful and the food is carefully prepared and delicious. There is also an extensive wine list featuring local wines as well as international favorites. The Grid is very reasonably priced, especially the lunch time and early evening fixed price menus.  edit
  • The Linden Tree, Station Hill. Famed for massive portions of standard pub fare, the Linden Tree is definitely worth the short walk from the town centre for the hungry traveller. Conveniently located close to the train station.  edit
  • Harriet's Tearoom, 57 Cornhill. A great traditional afternoon tea - wide range of teas, coffees, scones, cakes, sandwiches and other food. Can be very busy, especially around lunchtime on a Saturday and occasionally service is slow, but it is worth waiting for, especially if you want to really feel like you're back in the 1940s. Occasionally they have a live pianist.  edit

Drink[edit][add listing]

There are lots of bars, clubs and pubs in Bury; it certainly punches above its weight given its size. Many premises have late licences with some bars, clubs and pubs serving until 1AM on weekdays and until 3AM on Fridays and Saturdays. Bar 3, Benson Blakes, Hide Bar, Karooze, Bar Ambition and So Bar provide a fairly relaxed night out and are a welcome alternative to the two main nightclubs (Brazilias and Deja Vu) which are over-priced and tacky by comparison. Ruin, a night club and cocktail bar has recently opened. The cheapest pub in and around the town centre is certainly The Grapes, which is open until 2AM on Fridays and Saturdays.

Pubs[edit]

  • The Nutshell, 17 The Traverse. One of the smallest pubs in Britain, and worth a visit if you can fit in. More than five people, and it's impossible to sit down. They also sell tshirts with a woodcarving style picture of the pub on them. A friendly and welcoming pub - step inside and feel like a regular. Apparently haunted. There is a dead cat on the roof.  edit
  • Queen's Head, Churchgate St. Probably the best pub in Bury St Edmunds to watch football. Several large screens and can show more than one match at the once. Not particularly remarkable otherwise.  edit
  • The Dog and Partridge. Has recently shaken off its reputation for underage drinking, provides a warm, comfortable environment and serves good food. Known as a good student pub, with nice concrete garden and plenty of seats.  edit
  • The Grapes. One of the best pubs in Bury with rank people and bands providing a lively, if sometimes eccentric, atmosphere. The vibe is fantastic though. There is also a brothel above the pub. (I've lived in Bury for 40 years and there's never been a brothel above the Grapes to the best of my knowledge)  edit
  • The King's Arms. A dive which has Strongbow at £3.00 and happy hour from 5PM-7PM, so is perhaps only worth the one visit. Occasional fights can be viewed for your entertainment in the evenings although these are normally limited to the weekends. Joining in with the entertainment is not recommended as serious injury may occur; view from a safe distance.  edit
  • The Black Boy, 69 Guildhall St, 01284 752723. Sunday - Thursday 11am - 11pm | Friday 11am - 1am | Saturday 11am - 1am. For the more adventurous thrill seeker, a drinking establishment where you will find yourself spiritually and literally at the bottom of the glass. The only place with a list of people banned from the bar in clear view, known locally as 'The Blacklist. Great for that mid afternoon pint of remorse, even better for a rampaging rambunctious round of night time drinking.  edit

Bars[edit]

  • So Bar, Langton Place, [22]. A trendy bar in the town centre.  edit
  • Hide Bar, Whiting St, Bury St Edmunds, [23]. A bar set in the town's Medieval grid, serving a very large range of drinks with a great range of cocktails, Hide Bar is a relaxed and friendly place to spend time in Bury. Regular Pride nights and occasional food nights are held. Free WiFi is available. Not part of the national chain of bars of the same name. The gay bar in bury  edit

Nightclubs[edit]

  • The LP, St Andrews Street. Upstairs nightclub, downstairs bar/restaurant.  edit
  • Club Brazilia, Station Hill, [24]. One of Bury's premier nightspots, Brazilias is like Marmite; you either love it or hate it. Despite being small, cramped, sweaty and cheesy, Brazilias is still great fun.  edit
  • Deja Vu, St Andrews Street, [25]. Deja Vu is a fairly small club, with a definite 'chart and cheese' theme. Spread over two floors, it is in the town centre near many other pubs and bars.  edit

Sleep[edit][add listing]

If its quality you are after then try one of the many highly rated hotels, if a more local feel is wanted then try some of the local B&B's.

  • Angel Hotel ****, 3 Angel Hill, +44 1284 714000 (), [26]. Perched at the top of Angel Hill, just outside the Abbey Gardens, the Angel is Bury St Edmunds' most famous hotel. Once home to Charles Dickens and (more recently) Angelina Jolie, the hotel is one of Bury's landmarks. The imposing ivy-clad exterior hides well appointed rooms and an excellent restaurant and bar. Recently reviewed by the Guardian here [27].  edit
  • Chantry Hotel ****, Sparhawk Street, [28]. Despite its location very close to the town centre and only about one minutes walk from the Abbey Gardens, the Chantry Hotel is quiet and secluded, away from the busier and noisier parts of Bury St Edmunds.  edit
  • Ramada Bury St Edmunds, A14 Bury East Exit, Symonds Road, IP32 7DZ, 01284 760884 (, fax: 01284 755476), [29]. checkin: 2PM (early check-in by arrangement); checkout: 12 noon (late check-out by arrangement). Ramada hotel with 66 non-smoking rooms – onsite parking also available. Each room includes bath and/or shower, work desk, flat screen freeview TV and complimentary WiFi. Some rooms have been adapted to allow for easier access. £89.50 M-Th, £67.50 Fri & Sun, Sat only £77.50.  edit

Stay safe[edit]

Bury is one of the safest towns in the country and you are unlikely to be a victim of crime; however as with anywhere don't allow yourself to become too complacent.

Get out[edit]

  • Cambridge - a university city.
  • Lavenham - one of the finest examples of a medieval wool town.
  • But why would you ever want to leave?
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