When you look at an old map of the town this street is out on a limb, a suburb of the town. This is because the South Gate was where today’s Southgate Green is. Nearby was St Petronella’s Hospital from around the 12thC mainly for the treatment of female lepers. Its large tracery window was removed by Phillip Bennet of Rougham to the ruins of St Nicholas hospital at the junction of Hollow Road and Barton Road early in the 19thC. Nothing of St Petronellas exists now nor do any shops or public houses in the street. There were once six pubs all now gone, the last to go was The Sword in Hand, it used to have popular jazz evenings, opposite is the former Plough Inn. A mixture of shops and businesses have all disappeared; Whites directory of 1874 has three bootmakers, three butchers, five assorted shopkeepers, three milliners and a tobacconist. This is without a tannery, cooper and a blacksmith! In the late 20thC a post office closed. On the site of the vacated builder’s merchants Watsons, aka William Brown, aka Jewsons the development of Sextons Meadows was built by Redrow Homes. Many businesses have disappeared from what once was a thriving trading community; homes are now strictly de rigueur! On the site of the old S & S flooring Centre, on the corner of Bakers Lane new town houses have been built. Without wishing to heap up what has been lost, the old steam mill of Henry Cooke went several years ago and to cap it all vets Swayne & Partners and The Pine Shop have recently closed (2015) and it even looks like the ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food is going over to residential in one form or another. So there we have it, a catalogue of what was once; more to follow.
As we have already seen the street has changed beyond recognition. Behind the scene though there are many gems to be found such as the hidden 13thC stone bridge that is over The Linnet identified in Samuel Tymms 19thC book on Bury. The nearby Abbey Hotel, once The White Hart has ancient timbers and abbey stone within, next door at no.16 limestone masonry has been discovered a vestige of the medieval St Botolphs Chapel which once stood here. At no.80 aka Weavers Rest, there is a wealth of beams and jetties from the late 15thC contributing to its Grade II* status. The façade on Linnet House no.32 hides an aged interior; it was once the home of Henry Crabb Robinson, diarist and the first war correspondent who covered the Peninsular War. A stone oval plaque from 1907 is affixed to the building. The Guildhall Feoffment, major landowners in the town had ten almshouses built by William Steggles in 1811 known as Long Row today. There were several other courts and yards off Southgate Street, Lion and Crown Court, Aberdeen Place and Bridges Yard all now gone the most likely the reason was the quality of the accommodation within. A small new development though called Haberdon Place is to the rear of the former Sword in Hand pub. Other pubs to close were The Three Crowns at no.7 in 1932 and The King of Prussia, corner of Prussia Lane all existence of it now eradicated. During WW1 it had a name change to The Lord Kitchener due to vehement anti-German feelings, bizarrely the lane suffered from Zeppelin bombing in 1916. The pub was closed in 1919 along with several other major Greene King austerity cutbacks, nothing new! Nearby stood the Jolly Toper which closed in 1908, a toper being a drunkard; Toper Lane accessed now from Raingate Street.
The text on this page is taken from pages 80 and 81 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!