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Honey Hill | Hazells’ Histories

Posted by Edward King on December 17, 2018
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Honey Hill used to finish at Spahawk Street from thereon it was known as School hall Street or Scolehallstrete when the Abbey’s song school was here; the street finishing just around the corner into Raingate Street. When the whole became Honey Hill is a matter of conjecture. Certainly there is a wealth of history here, none more so than at the entrance to The Great Churchyard. The Abbey’s St Margarets Gate was taken down to allow free passage into the churchyard through the garden of an eminent surgeon, Mr William Edmund Image.  He replied by having a tunnel dug under the throughway! It went from his house (called St Margarets Gate today) to today’s car park at the Shire Hall. The magistrate’s courts at the Edwardian Shire Hall by Archie Ainsworth Hunt are under threat of closure after hundreds of years on this site. Opposite is the former Coach & Horses pub that closed in the 1970s. Wells & Winch, a Biggleswade brewery owned the pub until taken over by Greene King in 1961.  Some witnesses supposedly got inebriated waiting to give evidence in court so they were unable to swear the oath! A different type of oath, the Hippocratic, was taken by Dr Messenger Monsey who lived at no.5 Honey Hill. He was to become physician to the Chelsea Royal Hospital in 1742 but had previously attended Elizabeth Felton, lady of the Bed Chamber to Queen Caroline. Elizabeth was the 2nd wife of John Hervey the 1st Earl of Bristol and had their town house, The Manor House designed by amateur architect James Burroughs. Hervey complained about his builder William Steel sleeping in with headaches from drinking too much tea and breaking his carts from overloading them!  Elizabeth had numerous children during her year sof marriage, a letter of 1737 to her husband concludes “I have here enclosed you Dr Monsey’s letter, which mine was an answer to; they may both now be burnt if you please, and he with them!” Obviously my lady was somewhat displeased with the good doctor!

Honey Hill, 1985

The Salvation Army came to Bury in 1887 when two sisters Captain and Lieutenant Newton held services for just over two years in a run-down building on the corner with Spahawk Street before moving to a purpose built citadel in St Johns Street. Opposite here is the south side of St Marys Parish Church arguably the third largest in the country. Just below the clerestory are carved stone heads of pigs, their function to act as conduit water spouts for water from the roof. Its magnificent interior has an outstanding hammer beam roof of a procession of angels, wonderful stained glass West Window the largest such of any parish church and a vibrant East Window of the martyrdom of St Edmund. Along with the subdued grave of Mary Rose Tudor, Queen of France buried here after the dissolution, The Suffolk Regt. Chapel and a poignant memorial to The HMS Birkenhead, this church is a repository of Bury’s past. St Denys at number 6, is a stone fronted house, one of only two in Bury (Hanchets in Kings Road is the other) hides an ancient building from the 15thC. Residing here in 1721 was Arundel Coke whose murderous attempt to deprive his brother-in-law, Edward Crispe of his life and fortune ended with Coke going to the gallows. St Denys later owner was Thomas Singleton, stonemason extraordinaire, responsible for this stone façade and fine carvings on the Market Cross. The adjacent Georgian Manor House is outstanding and was once home to the Herveys of Ickworth and Walter Guinness the ill-fated 1st Baron Moyne assassinated in Cairo, 1944. The Manor House Museum, till its closure in 2006, housed a fine costume and art collection and a fabulous myriad of timepieces bequeathed to the people of Bury by Frederic Gershom Parkington in memory of his son John killed in WW2.

Carved Pigs on St Mary’s

A-Z of Bury St Edmunds | Places – People – History | By Martyn Taylor

A-Z of Bury St Edmunds, Places - People - History, By Martyn Taylor

The text on this page is taken from pages 34 to 35 of the book written by Martyn Taylor, published by Amberly Publishing 2016.

If you wish to continue the journey through the streets A to Z of Bury St Edmunds, or indeed read more about the history of Bury St Edmunds, you can purchase Martyn’s book from St Edmundsbury Cathedral shop, Waterstones and Moyses Hall.


Look out for the next instalment next month, or subscribe to our newsletter to be notified when Hazells’ Histories returns!