Bury st. edmunds
Recently we had a short trip to Bury St. Edmunds to see the famous (locally at the least!) Abbey Gardens there. Bury is only about 15 miles from Barton Mills, but most of the journey is spent in winding around the little narrow streets once you arrive. We did, however, eventually find the ruined Abbey gardens. The Abbey was 'The Abbey of St. Edmund' and was built in the 1000s and 1100s (and even then was built on the site of a previous abbey) by the Benedictines.
The Abbey had been named in honour of King Edmund, who had been beheaded by the Danes about 200 years earlier. His 'relics' (rather delicate phrasing there!) were placed in a shrine within the new Abbey. Eventually King Henry VIII came along with his warm and fuzzy feelings for the Catholic Church, and the Abbey was destroyed. Nobody knows what became of the 'relics' of poor old King Edmund (although as always seems to be the case with a celebrity death, rumours and theories abound!).
Although the ruins seem reasonable for something over 1000 years old, it must be kept in mind that without the loving attention of Henry, quite a lot more - perhaps the whole? - would remain intact. As it is, a suspicious number of nearby houses seem to be made from the same material as the Abbey itself! The owners of the time probably bought the building materials 'off some bloke in the pub' one suspects.
Before the destruction of the Abbey, however, it had been the site not only of Edmund's remains, but of some political and social machinations - as you can see from the plaque above. The rather cheesy prose is circa 1847.
Part of the North Transept. Not entirely sure what a transept is, I've borrowed a book on architecture from the library but haven't delved into it yet! I'm sure the more classically educated of you will know what that means ;)
The gardens themselves were beautiful, marred only by some (@#$^*&@# masquerading as 'art'. I was going to put pictures of it here, but it's too painful. If you REALLY care to know you can look up "Textiles on Site", a programme of the Bury St. Edmunds Art Gallery. Basically it seemed to consist of putting gaudy strips of material and/or fabric flags at random places around the gardens. Looked like the place had been attacked by some manic cloth cutters. Ones who particularly liked sequins. Blessed may be the cheese-makers, but after this little lot the cloth cutters are going straight to aesthetic hell.
The rose garden was very pleasant........
.....but couldn't compete in the colour stakes with the main gardens.
The main entrance gate to the gardens is rather spectacular, and boasts a portcullis! (Or is that whooping cough? Hmm.....)
My favourite, though, was the herb garden.
And the herb garden monitor was a friendly guy!
Right next to the Abbey gardens is the current St Edmundsbury Cathedral. As you can see by the scaffolding, they are undertaking some major structural work at the moment (hence I have no outside pictures - scaffolding isn't very attractive, really). For more on the Cathedral, try this website:
Hopefully the website will tell you what this thing is, because I have no idea :) I thought it might have been a baptismal font, but I don't see where you'd stick the baby. The website is very good, with lots of pictures, information, and an explanation of what they're doing with the scaffolding etc, so no doubt the answer can be found there.
Here's one for you "Yoopers" out there - the Kenton seat cushion! Kneeling pad. Stuffed thing. I'm not entirely sure, but there were hundreds of them, all with the names of local towns, villages, groups etc embroidered on them.......and I spotted this familiar word. Didn't find a Barton Mills one, though, the place was too huge and the thingies too numerous. (Yes, yes, I can see I'll have to read up on church fittings before posting any more pictures of ecclesiastical accoutrements).
And that was it from the quick Bury visit.
Go back to the main page if you want to see anything else :)