Abbeygate and St Mary’s Church, Bury St Edmunds


This, the sixty feet high secular gateway to the Abbey was built by 1347 after the townspeople destroyed its predecessor twenty years earlier. The rear has a fine east-facing tracery window and niches for statues, now gone as have those at the front. A lovely feature missed by the hundreds of thousands visitors that come through this gate annually is on the string course. If they looked above their heads, they would see various stoned carved animals including cats and pigs. An impressive gateway to the Abbey and somewhat dark inside it is locked at dusk during wintertime.


This the 15thC civic church of the town is a fabulous repository of  history.  With the last resting place of a queen of France, Mary Tudor, a West Window the largest of any parish church in the country and a fabulous carved Angel Roof over an incredibly long nave it has an air of tranquillity inside. It also holds the oldest endowed service in the country from 1481 to benefactor Jankyn Smyth still celebrated here in June. The tower of around 1400 has a clock from 1897, put in to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. Strong winds cracked the clock’s south face in 2020.

With thanks to our local historian Martyn Taylor