The parish church of St James became St Edmundsbury cathedral in 1914. The original church was founded in the twelfth century in the precincts of the abbey. Changes were made in the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries with additions in the second half of last century. The crowing glory came in 2005 when the tower, built with a Millennium grant together with local fundraising, was completed.
In 869, Edmund, King of the East Angles, met his death at the hands of the Danes. He was tied to a tree and shot with arrows. Legend says that his severed head was thrown into the woods and found being guarded by a wolf. Edmund was the patron saint of England, until St George replaced him. His feast day is 20 November.
Inside the cathedral is a superb medieval hammer-beam roof, ornamented with figures of 30 angels. The roof is boldly painted and gilded, and though ornate, is nothing like so ornate as the extraordinary font and font cover at the west end of the nave – a riot of colour. Continue reading St Edmundsbury Cathedral
Another stop en route to Norwich was Bury St Edmunds primarily to see the Abbey and the Abbey gardens, but when we got there we were enticed into the cathedral instead. Bury St Edmunds grew up around the powerful Abbey of St Edmunds in the Middle Ages. For 500 years pilgrims came from all over the world to worship at his shrine. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries (yep – good ole Henry VIII again), the abbey church – one of the largest Norman buildings in Europe – fell into decline.
But before I take you into that wonderful building here’s a glimpse of the Abbey and surrounding area.
We parked in Angel Hill, a cobbled square which is opposite the Cathedral and the Abbey Gate and in front of the very colourful Angel Hotel (above). When I drive through historic places like this I always feel guilty – cars ought not to be allowed, just pedestrians and maybe a horse and carriage. Continue reading Bury St Edmunds
Set in the picturesque Market Place is the Guildhall of Corpus Christi, built in 1529 by a wealthy religious guild, this building is one of the loveliest timber-framed buildings in the country. Inside you can learn all about the people, industries and events that have shaped this village throughout time.
The exhibitions have been cleverly created using the eyes and voices of those who worked, lived and were imprisoned here. Their stories will surprise and shock you. Continue reading Lavenham Guildhall
Our trip up the eastern side of the country began in earnest after the wedding in Colchester – next stop being close to Norwich where we intended to visit the cathedral. In fact most of this trip north was planned on seeing cultural and historical sites that we have previously not been to. Since the driving distances between some of the destinations were quite short I devised a route that took us to some hopefully interesting spots along the way. First stop on this glorious September day was Lavenham, a pretty village in Suffolk, England. It is noted for its 15th century church, half-timbered medieval cottages, Guildhall and circular walk.
Whilst in Essex and with time to spare between checking out of one place and checking in to another, we decided to visit the quintessential English Dedham Valley on the borders of Essex and Suffolk where Constable drew inspiration for some of his paintings, notably “The Hay Wain“.
“The sound of water escaping from Mill dams …, willows, old rotten banks, slimy posts and brickwork. I love such things … as long as I do paint I shall never cease to paint such places.”
~ John Constable
The scene is rural England at its most romantic and although the spot which inspired him has altered slightly you can find the easily recognisable view at Flatford. The area is charming; narrow lanes lead to hamlets and meadows and there are plenty of riverside walks along the River Stour which meanders through this enchanting valley. Dedham, East Bergholt and Flatford is affectionatley known as ‘Constable Country’ and you can see examples of his work and information about the man at the National Trust exhibition centre located at Flatford.