High Baxter Street, Bury St Edmunds

In the Pre-dissolution street names of Bury St Edmunds before 1295 Baxter Street 1182-1200 was either High or Low Baxter Street, the latter leading into what is todays Angel Lane. High Baxter Street leads into today’s Hatter Street once the Jewish Quarter of the town known as Heathenmens Street. The name Baxter curiously derives from the name of a female baker. High Baxter Street forms part of the ancient medieval grid of Bury St Edmunds laid out by Abbot Baldwin in 1065 onwards thus making it the oldest purposely laid-out Norman town in the country.

In a street now devoid of older properties number 11, High Baxter Street is listed as Grade II and is a rarity having an interior core dating back to C17 or even earlier and with an C18 and C19 exterior. It is timber-framed, part roughcast and part brick faced. It was probably jettied on the front as was common with many timber-framed properties in the town and hopefully escaped the notorious  great fire of Bury in 1608 which started in Eastgate Street and gutted the town centre. Inside this house many architectural gems were found by the Bury Town Trust that lovingly restored this house over several years.  Also inside there are plain cross-beams exposed on the ground floor and in one upper room there are wall-plates and main beams, the timbers are plain with chamfers. The roof was renewed in the C18 when an extension along the rear widened the building.  The plain wooden doorcase is offset with a flat cornice hood whilst the chimney stack at the north end has a shaft of Tudor bricks.

This house was owned at one time by the Suffolk Hotel in Buttermarket that once was a Trust House Forte Hotel, they had a garage to the hotel’s rear for the use of clients staying at the hotel. Number 11 used by the hotel staff as lodgings at one time. The hotel closed in 1996.

Opposite number 11 is the last visible vestige of what was once an important coaching inn of Bury St Edmunds is signage on a wall , showing Half Moon Bars. This was its rear entrance in High Baxter Street. The Half Moon at 28, Butter Market had its origins back in the mid 17thC and in 1676 its proprietor, one Richard Cooke was hauled up before the magistrates for ‘permitting  gaming on the Lord’s Day’.

The author of this article is the local historian Martyn Taylor who has several books in circulation on the history of Bury St Edmunds. This article is based on the history as listed by St Edmundsbury Borough Council in 1997 with the knowledge which existed at that time.

Subsequently additional information has been revealed and the most recent summary can be found on the Bury Town Trusts’ website by using the link: https://burystedmundstowntrust.org.uk/11-high-baxter-street/

This should be read in conjunction with Martyn Taylor’s article above.