Bury St Edmunds Abbey

Has been described as a Possible Fortified Ecclesiastical site

There are major building remains

NameBury St Edmunds Abbey
Alternative Names
Historic CountrySuffolk
Modern AuthoritySuffolk
1974 AuthoritySuffolk
Civil ParishBury St Edmunds

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. The 3rd and 4th stages each have 3 deep window openings, divided by colonnettes and hood-moulds with billet decoration: below the 3rd stage openings are paired blank arches; below the 4th stage blank roundels. The details of the 3 upper stages on the west are repeated on each of the other faces. (Listing Report)

Gatehouse Comments

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 rioters of 1327 deliberately directed their attack at the gatehouse of the Abbey. They could have easily have broken the precinct wall but the Gatehouse was probably the place where the Abbey took rents and possibly where deeds and other legal documents relating to property were housed.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTL858642
Latitude52.243579864502
Longitude0.716660022735596
Eastings585800
Northings264200
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved

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Books

  • Fergusson, Peter, 2011, 'Abbot Anselm's Gate Tower at Bury St Edmunds' in Zoe Opacic and Achim Timmermann (eds) Architecture, Liturgy and Identity (Turnhout: Brepols Publishers) p. 29
  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 274-5, 352
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 233
  • Pevsner, N. (Revised Radcliffe, Edna), 1974, Buildings of England: Suffolk (London, Penguin) p. 138
  • Cox, J.C., 1911, 'The Abbey of Bury St. Edmunds' in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Suffolk Vol. 2 p. 56-72 online copy
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1853, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 2 p. 191-2 online copy

Antiquarian

Journals

  • Drewett, P.L. and Stuart, I.W., 1975, 'Excavations in the Norman Gate Tower Bury St. Edmunds Abbey' Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History Vol. 33.3 p. 241-50 online copy
  • Whittingham, A.B., 1951, 'Bury St. Edmunds Abbey: The Plan, Design and Development of the Church and Monastic Buildings' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 108 p. 168-87 and plates XIX-XX online copy
  • W.S.W., 1859, 'Heraldy within the Abbey Gate at Bury St Edmunds as Evidence of its Date' Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History Vol. 2 p. 90-4 online copy

Guide Books

  • Whittingham, A.B., 1992, Bury St Edmunds Abbey, Suffolk (London: English Heritage)

Other

  • English Heritage, 2013, Heritage at Risk Register 2013 East of England (London: English Heritage) p. 70 online copy
  • Shapland, Michael, 2012, Buildings of Secular and Religious Lordship: Anglo-Saxon Tower-nave Churches (PhD Thesis University College London) passim
  • English Heritage, 2012, Heritage at Risk Register 2012 East of England (London: English Heritage) p. 77 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011 East of England (London: English Heritage) p. 69 online copy