Abbey of St Edmund celebrates 1000th anniversary in 2020 with year-long events programme
The first Patron Saint of England and King of East Anglia, Saint Edmund was enshrined in the Abbey consequently lending his name to the town, which was built around it. The shrine brought visits from across the UK and abroad including Royalty as the Abbey became one of the most famous and wealthy pilgrimage locations in England.
The Abbey was destroyed during the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539. Edmund’s bejeweled shrine was plundered but Edmund’s body was missing. His whereabouts are still a great mystery but a theory suggests he might be buried in the monks’ cemetery, which lies beneath the tennis courts in the Abbey Gardens, which is consecrated ground.
Cultural, musical, religious and civic functions will highlight the 1000 years since the Abbey’s foundation. The Abbey 1000 Group, working closely alongside the Cathedral and the Heritage Partnership, aim to offer a broad range of events from musical concerts to religious pageants culminating in a spectacular light show on St Edmund’s Day Weekend.
The Abbey is also known for its important role in the Magna Carta story. A group of Barons met at the Abbey in 1214 and swore an oath to compel King John to accept the Charter of Liberties, a proclamation of Henry I. This act led directly to the Great Charter or Magna Carta, agreed at Runnymede on 15 June 1215. The people of Bury St Edmunds have celebrated this link for hundreds of years with the town’s motto ‘Shrine of the King, Cradle of the Law’, which refers to the historic links with King Edmund (the first patron saint of England) and the Barons’ meeting
Today, the Abbey remains are extensive and include the complete 14th century Great Gate and Norman Tower, as well as the ruins and altered west front of the immense church. They are surrounded by the beautiful Abbey Gardens, an award-winning 14-acre park visited by 1.3million people from all over the world every year.
For more information about the anniversary and celebrations visit www.abbeyofstedmund1000.co.uk; B&B at The Angel Hotel starts from £139 per night B&B for two sharing, Tel: 01284 714000, www.theangel.co.uk