C14 Great Gate and C12 St James Gate of abbey precinct survive but although impressive probably never meant to be defensive. The Abbey was surrounded by a precinct wall, and some slight sections of the precinct wall do survive. The great gate of the Abbey of St Edmund was begun after the riots of 1327 but before 1346; completed after 1353. Built of Barnack stone. Much is made of the defensive features of this tower, but cannot have been seriously defensive since the rest of precinct not really defensible.
The Abbey Gate at Bury St Edmunds Abbey was built between 1327 and 1353. Built from Barnack stone and two storeys high, the west front of the gate is particularly ornate. The entrance is via a large archway, above which are three gabled niches and a curved gable. Either side of the archway are buttresses with gabled niches in three tiers and to the upper storey are five tall blank niches. The taller, centre niche has a crocketed gable which is flanked by two circles containing six-pointed stars. (Listing Report)
Norman Tower Monastic gate, now used as a belfry for the Cathedral Church of St James. Built under Abbot Anselm between 1120 and 1148; Romanesque. Restored by LN Cottingham in 1846/7. Barnack stone. Rectangular, in 4 stages, with the base now well below the present ground level. Richly ornamented. A large, unvaulted gateway has heavy block capitals to the columns and large roll-mouldings. The west face is the most ornate, with a sculptured inner order and the arch projecting like a porch with a gable and fishscale decoration. To each side of the gateway are 2 tiers of niches with billet decoration; short buttresses above have intersecting arches and pyramid roofs. The 2nd stage has 2 tall blank arches with small 2-light windows within them