Located in the heart of Bury St Edmunds, the abbey was once one of the richest and most powerful Benedictine monasteries in England. Its remains are extensive and include the complete 14th century Great Gate and Norman Tower, as well as the impressive ruins and altered west front of the immense church.
The relics of the martyred Anglo-Saxon king St Edmund, whose remains were moved to this site in 903, and his shrine became a place of pilgrimage. The abbey itself was founded in 1020 and grew in power and wealth up until its suppression in 1539.
Managed by St Edmundsbury Borough Council.
Read more about the history of Bury St Edmunds Abbey.
Before You Go
Access: The abbey can be reached on foot through the Abbey Gate and gardens. Parts of the site are uneven and can become muddy.
Parking: There is a charged car park opposite the Abbey Gate, not managed by English Heritage.
School Visits/Large Groups: Please contact St Edmundsbury Borough Council on 0128 476 4667.
Plan a Great Day Out
11 miles from the abbey is Thetford Priory, the burial site of the earls and dukes of Norfolk for nearly 400 years. Within a stone's throw of the priory is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the only surviving remains of a priory of the Canons of the Holy Sepulchre in England.
An hour's drive from the abbey is Framlingham Castle. It was here that Mary Tudor was proclaimed Queen in 1553 during the succession crisis that followed Edward VI's death. Enjoy the spectacular views from the castle wall walk or visit the colourful exhibition.
903Royal Burial Site
The body of the martyred King Edmund is moved to the site. The monastery becomes a place of pilgrimage and receives many royal grants.
1020A New Abbey
The Benedictine abbey is founded and granted great privileges by Edward the Confessor.
Bury ranks fourth among English abbeys in wealth and political importance. The Normans replace the Saxon church on a grand scale.
c 1200Extensive Additions
Abbot Samson completes the west front, adding a great central tower and lower octagonal ones to either side.
13th centuryRising Conflicts
The abbey thrives but relations with townspeople become strained.
King John and his dissatisfied earls and barons meet here. The direct result is the sealing of Magna Carta the next year.
14th centuryTumultuous Times
Summer riots break out in the town in 1327, with disputes continuing throughout the century. The west tower of the abbey also collapses and there is a serious fire.
Henry VI visits for Christmas and stays for four months.
The abbey surrenders to Henry VIII at the Dissolution.
1540-1720Ruins and Remains
The abbey is stripped of valuable building material, but the abbot's palace survives as a house.
17th-19th centuriesNew Houses
Houses are built into the west front of the church, some of which survive.
Learn more about the history of Bury St Edmunds Abbey
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