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Historic England Research Records

Monument Number 382532

Hob Uid: 382532
Location :
Suffolk
St. Edmundsbury
Bury St. Edmunds
Grid Ref : TL8574964160
Summary : The site of the now ruined Bury St Edmunds Abbey has been in religious use since around 633 when King Sigebert, first Christian king of the East Angles, established a religious community here. In 903 the remains of King Edmund were interred here, 33 years after he was martyred by the Danes. In 1020 King Canute replaced the community of secular priests with 20 Benedictine monks which was increased by a further sixty by William the Conqueror, who also increased the monastery's privileges. In 1095 St Edmund's remains were re-interred, this time in a stone church which replaced an earlier, timber church. The first half of the 12th century saw the construction of the cloister, chapter house, refectory, dormitory, infirmary, and, walls to the forecourt. In around 1150 fire caused damage to all of these except the cloister, and they were subsequently rebuilt. In the second half of the 12th century the church continued to be extended and the abbot's and guest houses were rebuilt. The 14th century was eventful resulting from disputes between the monks and townspeople and culminated in a riot in 1327. Fire caused great damage in 1465 to the church and refectory, and they were subsequently repaired.In 1540 Henry VIII dissolved the abbey, which was considered to be of considerable value. Sold to John Eyer and then Thomas Badyby, all valuable materials were stripped of the abbey buildings, with the exception of the abbot's palace, which survived as a house until 1720. Between the 17th and early 19th centuries houses were built into the west front of the abbey church, some of which still survive.Today, the remains comprise the church, crypt, crossing, transepts and east bays of the nave. Around the cloister, fragments of the parlour, refectory, chapter house, treasury, warming room and night stair can be recognised. North east of the refectory, remains of the Queen's Chamber, abbot's chapel and larder can be seen. The site is under the guardianship of English Heritage.
More information : (TL 857643) St Edmunds Abbey (NR) (Benedictine Founded AD 1020) (NAT) (1)

For details see pamphlet. (2)

Excavation within dorter range revealed cellars. (3)

Anglo-Saxon moulded stones and relief tiles found during clearance in 1950's. (4)

Examination of the West wall of the church for evidence of reconstruction during the 12th century. (5)

Ruins of the Abbey Church of St Edmund, excluding the West Front (qv), which is included separately. C11 and C12. In flint rubble, with the remains of stone dressings.

EXTERIOR: the church was 505 feet long. The nave, extended into 12 bays under Abbot Anselm (1121-1148), was arcaded on both sides: little now remains but the rubble bases of several of the columns. More complete are the 2 large transepts which had eastern aisles and 2 apsidal chapels on each side, one on the north replaced by a Lady Chapel in 1275. Parts of the high crossing arches supporting the central tower are today the tallest parts of the ruins.
The crossing tower, begun just after 1100, was completed by Abbot Anselm, but damaged later and rebuilt in stages from 1361. Beyond the site of the High Altar the ground drops sharply: the 5-bay chancel is missing but the crypt below it, which is the oldest surviving part of the Abbey, built under Abbot Baldwin soon after 1066, is clearly laid out: the outer walls rise above the level of the former window sills and the bases of most of the columns along the line of the ambulatory remain. The form is apsidal, with 3 chapels at the east end, the 2 to each side of the apse semicircular. The plan of the chancel itself was similar, with an ambulatory and 3 radiating chapels at the east end. Grade I.

Remains of the Chapter House to the north of the north transept with the apsidal Treasury and the Warming House further north. To the east, remains of a complex group of buildings, including the Prior's house, the Infirmary and Bradfield Hall. C12. In rubble flint with slight remains of ashlar facing. Most of the buildings in this area are now reduced to low rubble flint walls; in the Treasury the bases of 4 small columns, 2 on each side, on a continuous plinth. Grade I.

Remains of the Refectory, with the Kitchen and Cellarer's range to the north of it, and of the larder and wardrobe below the Queen's Chamber to the north of the former Dorter. Flint with stone fragments. C12. 3 of the Refectory walls are in coursed flint and stand approx 3 metres high; in the east and west walls are blocked pointed arched doorways of Barnack stone. The lower part of the Queen's Chamber building is themost complete of the whole complex, with all 4 walls standing. This building formed part of the range which included the Abbot's Palace. Grade I.

The surviving part of the south wall of the Great Court of the Abbey with the remains of the Hall of Pleas on its south side. Late C12 with C13 additions. In rubble and coursed flint with dressings of Barnack stone. The crenellated wall, which stands to full height and is 66 metres long, now forms in part the garden wall on the south side of Abbey House. Grade I.

Remains of Abbey dovecote with an associated short stretch of wall. C12 with later alterations. In coursed flint with stone quoins and dressings. Grade I.

The great gate of the Abbey of St Edmund. Begun after the riots of 1327 but before 1346; completed after 1353. Barnack stone. 2 storeys and battlements. The west facade is richly decorated. Grade I. (6)

Additional references. (7-9)

Today, the remains comprise the church, crypt, crossing, transepts and east bays of the nave. Around the cloister, fragments of the parlour, refectory, chapter house, treasury, warming room and night stair can be recognised. North east of the refectory, remains of the Queen's Chamber, abbot's chapel and larder can be seen. For full details see schedule monument description. (10)

The site of the now ruined Bury St Edmunds Abbey has been in religious use since around 633 when King Sigebert, first Christian king of the East Angles, established a religious community here. In 903 the remains of King Edmund were interred here, 33 years after he was martyred by the Danes. In 1020 King Canute replaced the community of secular priests with 20 Benedictine monks which was increased by a further sixty by William the Conqueror, who also increased the monastery's privileges. In 1095 St Edmund's remains were re-interred, this time in a stone church which replaced an earlier, timber church. The first half of the 12th century saw the construction of the cloister, chapter house, refectory, dormitory, infirmary, and, walls to the forecourt. In around 1150 fire caused damage to all of these except the cloister, and they were subsequently rebuilt 1150-1156. In the second half of the 12th century the church continued to be extended and the abbot's and guest houses were rebuilt. The 14th century was eventful resulting from disputes between the monks and townspeople and culminated in a riot in 1327. Fire caused great damage in 1465 to the church and refectory, and they were subsequently repaired between 1465 and 1506.

In 1540 Henry VIII dissolved the abbey, which was considered to be of considerable value. Sold to John Eyer and then Thomas Badyby, all valuable materials were stripped of the abbey buildings, with the exception of the abbot's palace, which survived as a house until 1720. Between the 17th and early 19th centuries houses were built into the west front of the abbey church, some of which still survive. (11)

This site is listed in the English Heritage Visitor Handbook for 2009/10. (12)




Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 1:2500 1965
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : Bury St Edmunds Abbey, Suffolk
Source details : Bury St Edmunds Abbey 1971 (A B Whittingham)
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 3
Source : Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History
Source details :
Page(s) : 294
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 34, 1980
Source Number : 4
Source : Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History
Source details :
Page(s) : Jan-30
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 35, 1981
Source Number : 5
Source : The origins of Suffolk
Source details :
Page(s) : 133-43
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 6
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : St Edmundsbury, 30-OCT-1997
Page(s) : 4
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 639-1
Source Number : 7
Source : The Archaeological Journal
Source details :
Page(s) : 168-187
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 108, 1951
Source Number : 8
Source : Bury St Edmunds : medieval art, architecture, archaeology and economy
Source details :
Page(s) : Jan-44
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 20
Source Number : 9
Source : Medieval religious houses in England and Wales
Source details :
Page(s) : 61,469
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 10
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : St Edmundsbury District, APR-1976
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 11
Source : Bury St Edmunds Abbey, Suffolk
Source details :
Page(s) : 03-Nov
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 12
Source : English Heritage Visitor Handbook 2009/10
Source details :
Page(s) : 136
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Early Medieval
Display Date : Re-founded 1020
Monument End Date : 1020
Monument Start Date : 1020
Monument Type : Benedictine Monastery, Abbey
Evidence : Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Church rebuilt around 1090-1095
Monument End Date : 1095
Monument Start Date : 1090
Monument Type : Abbey, Church
Evidence : Ruined Building, Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Built first half C12
Monument End Date : 1150
Monument Start Date : 1101
Monument Type : Wall, Chapter House, Dormitory, Refectory, Infirmary, Cloister
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Partly rebuilt 1150-1156
Monument End Date : 1156
Monument Start Date : 1150
Monument Type : Abbey, Benedictine Monastery
Evidence : Documentary Evidence, Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Alterations and rebuilding 2nd half C12
Monument End Date : 1200
Monument Start Date : 1150
Monument Type : Church, Abbey, Abbots Palace, Guest House
Evidence : Documentary Evidence, Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Partly destroyed by fire 1150
Monument End Date : 1150
Monument Start Date : 1150
Monument Type : Abbey, Benedictine Monastery
Evidence : Documentary Evidence, Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Partly damaged by fire 1465
Monument End Date : 1465
Monument Start Date : 1465
Monument Type : Church, Abbey, Refectory
Evidence : Documentary Evidence, Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Repaired after fire 1465-1506
Monument End Date : 1506
Monument Start Date : 1465
Monument Type : Church, Abbey, Refectory
Evidence : Documentary Evidence, Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Converted 1540-1720
Monument End Date : 1901
Monument Start Date : 1540
Monument Type : House
Evidence : Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Tudor
Display Date : Dissolved 1540
Monument End Date : 1540
Monument Start Date : 1540
Monument Type : Benedictine Monastery, Abbey
Evidence : Ruined Building, Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Converted C17-earlyC19
Monument End Date : 1832
Monument Start Date : 1601
Monument Type : House
Evidence : Extant Building, Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Early Medieval
Display Date : Founded 633
Monument End Date : 633
Monument Start Date : 633
Monument Type : Minster, Monastery
Evidence : Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Built 633-1300
Monument End Date : 1300
Monument Start Date : 633
Monument Type : Warming House, Treasury, Dovecote, Vineyard
Evidence : Ruined Building

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 466441
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : SF 2
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 46440
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 466446
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 466442
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 466443
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 466444
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 466445
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Suffolk)
External Cross Reference Number : 10
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 466447
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 466448
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 466449
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 466452
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 466454
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : EH Property Number
External Cross Reference Number : 9
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Register of Parks and Gardens Legacy No.
External Cross Reference Number : GD4680
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : TL 86 SE 39
External Cross Reference Notes :

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Relationship type : General association
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Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 382226
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 382977
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1336239
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 382514
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 620307
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 382496
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 382533
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 382610
Relationship type :
Associated Monuments : 1500492
Relationship type :

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : ST EDMUNDS ABBEY
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1772-01-01
End Date : 1786-12-31
Associated Activities : BURY ST EDMUNDS ABBEY
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1849-01-01
End Date : 1849-12-31
Associated Activities : BURY ST EDMUNDS ABBEY
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1902-01-01
End Date : 1903-12-31
Associated Activities : ST EDMUNDS ABBEY
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1947-01-01
End Date : 1947-12-31
Associated Activities : ABBEY CHURCH, BURY ST EDMUNDS
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1957-01-01
End Date : 1964-12-31
Associated Activities : BURY ST EDMUNDS ABBEY
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1964-01-01
End Date : 1964-12-31
Associated Activities : ABBEY
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 1965-01-01
End Date : 1965-12-31
Associated Activities : NORMAN GATE TOWER, BURY ST EDMUNDS ABBEY
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1973-01-01
End Date : 1973-12-31
Associated Activities : BURY ST EDMUNDS ABBEY
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1976-01-01
End Date : 1980-12-31
Associated Activities : CATHEDRAL
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1987-01-01
End Date : 1988-12-31
Associated Activities : ABBEY WEST FRONT
Activity type : ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1988-01-01
End Date : 1988-12-31
Associated Activities : BURY ST EDMONDS ABBEY
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1990-01-01
End Date : 1990-12-31
Associated Activities : GREAT CHURCHYARD OF ABBEY
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1990-01-01
End Date : 1990-12-31
Associated Activities : ABBEY CHURCH, WEST FRONT
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1993-01-01
End Date : 1993-12-31
Associated Activities : WEST FRONT OF THE ABBEY
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1995-01-01
End Date : 1995-12-31
Associated Activities : ST EDMUNDS ABBEY CLOISTER
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1996-01-01
End Date : 1996-12-31
Associated Activities : PRECINCT WALL, MUSTOW STREET
Activity type : ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1997-01-01
End Date : 1997-12-31
Associated Activities : NORMAN COTTAGE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 2000-01-01
End Date : 2001-12-31
Associated Activities : ABBEY GARDENS: BOUNDARY WALL
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2001-01-01
End Date : 2001-12-31
Associated Activities : LAND AT ABBEY GARDENS
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2001-01-01
End Date : 2001-12-31
Associated Activities : ABBEY CHURCH (WEST FRONT)
Activity type : DESK BASED ASSESSMENT
Start Date : 2005-01-01
End Date : 2005-12-31
Associated Activities : SHIRE HALL COMPLEX
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2007-01-01
End Date : 2007-12-31
Associated Activities : FORMER EASTGATE NURSERY
Activity type : DESK BASED ASSESSMENT
Start Date : 2008-01-01
End Date : 2008-12-31
Associated Activities : LAND AT ABBEY GARDENS
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2009-01-01
End Date : 2009-12-31
Associated Activities : EASTGATE NURSERY, EASTGATE STREET/MINDEN CLOSE
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2009-01-01
End Date : 2009-12-31
Associated Activities : 'AVIARY WALL', ABBEY GARDENS
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2009-01-01
End Date : 2009-12-31
Associated Activities : BURY MAGISTRATE'S COURT, HONEY HILL
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2009-01-01
End Date : 2009-12-31
Associated Activities : MAGISTRATES COURT, HONEY HILL
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2009-01-01
End Date : 2009-12-31
Associated Activities : 'AVIARY WALL', ABBEY GARDENS
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2010-01-01
End Date : 2010-12-31
Associated Activities : SHIRE HALL CAR PARK
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2011-01-01
End Date : 2011-12-31
Associated Activities : LAND AT SHIRE HALL
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2011-01-01
End Date : 2011-12-31
Associated Activities : GREAT CHURCHYARD GAS MAIN
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2011-01-01
End Date : 2011-12-31
Associated Activities : 'CRANKLES CORNER' WALL, SHIRE HALL
Activity type : ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Start Date : 2014-01-01
End Date : 2014-12-31
Associated Activities : CATHEDRAL YARD, ANGEL HILL
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 2014-01-01
End Date : 2014-12-31
Associated Activities : LAND AT 4 CROWN STREET
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 2014-01-01
End Date : 2014-12-31