Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Abbey Gate and Norman Tower, Bury St Edmunds

Abbey Gate - Bury St Edmunds

In December, we spent a week at Swilland Mill in Suffolk and visited the historic town of Bury St Edmunds.  The primary attraction was the ruins of the Abbey of Bury St Edmunds which was once one of the richest Benedictine  monastries in England but which fell into ruin following Henry VIII’s Suppression of the Monasteries in 1539.

Abbey Gate detail

Today, Abbey Gate and the Norman Tower are the only two surviving buildings which could give an idea of the magnificence of the Abbey of St Edmund. 

Abbey Gate close up

The Abbey Gate is the entrance to the Great Court.  The original gate probably stood slightly to the left but it was damaged in 1327 when the townspeople revolted, plundered the abbey and kidnapped the abbot. 

Abbey Gate closeup

The existing Abbey Gate was rebuilt in 1347 and is quite beautiful.

Inside Abbey Gate - Bury St Edmunds

It has battlements, a portcullis and arrow slits in the walls.

Inside Abbey Gate

It is just a pity that for all its defensive features, the Abbey Gate provided no defence when Henry VIII went on his rampage against the monasteries.

Abbey Gate Wall


The Norman Tower and Gatehouse lies further to the south of Abbey Gate, on the other side of the present-day St Edmundsbury Cathedral (dedicated as the Cathedral Church of St James and St Edmund).

The Norman Tower

Norman Gate was built by Abbot Anselm between 1120 and 1148 and it was the principle gateway into the abbey precinct.  The belfry is still in use today and serves the cathedral.

Entrance to the Norman Tower and Gatehouse

The Norman Tower and gatehouse is four-storeys high and is virtually unchanged from its 12th century state.

The Norman Tower and Gatehouse Bury St Edmunds Abbey

How magnificent is that?  I love Norman architecture.  Next time I will take you through the ruins of the abbey.

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11 comments

  1. magnificient building and impressive architecture-"heavy" and light at the same time

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  2. What a beauty. I LOVE being surrounded by English history. Just so breath-taking.

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  3. Just wonderful! And so English, too :) They built stuff to last back then. Nothing holds up to it nowadays...
    Have a great week, Emm!

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  4. what an impressive building!
    fantastic angles, too!
    thanks for the history lesson.

    xx

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  5. Some of Henry's decisions really annoy me. He did such terrible things at times!

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  6. I've always thought that Bury St. Edmonds was just the coolest, most completely English place name. Glad to see that the buildings fit the image!

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  7. I keep on travelling outside of the UK! I really need to explore more of these cool places- thanks for the inspiration... :-)

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  8. Lovely pictures... hope you've had a great New Year's... it's been a while since my last visit to your blog

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  9. @ Ola: I agree, it is impressive. Especially when you consider it is nearly 700 years old!

    @ Melizza: Me too! It is good to hear that others like the historical aspect too as I find myself becoming more and more fascinated with it.

    @ Ivanhoe: Ha! Nothing except those ugly concrete monstrosities we all built in the 50s and 60s!

    @ Betty: Thank you and it is a pleasure! I loved the structure of it but found the light was a little difficult.

    @ Within Ireland: I know what you mean and I struggle not to judge his actions in terms of our modern history. He oppressed and entire group of people!

    @ Kathy: It really is! Especially when you consider who St Edmund was and just how central he is to English history!

    @ Oneika: I know what you mean which is why I have taken more and more local trips during my time here. We're planning a little trip to Rochester soon, which I will definitely tell you about.

    @ Dominic: No problem! I am also only getting back on the blogging bike now!

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  10. such a beautiful place with a great sense of history. it has always been amazing to see so many interesting places through your lens. thanks for the superb tour.

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  11. Inside the gatehouse, 30 feet from the ground level, there is a Fireplace and the remains of the upper storey rooms. One wonders how long since a hearty fire burned in that hearth....

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