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My Favourite Places: Melanie Lesser

Melanie Lesser shares her favourites places to visit, relax, eat and unwind in Bury St Edmunds and Beyond. Melanie is Chairman of Bury St Edmunds and Beyond and Bury in Bloom Coordinator. 

My favourite place to relax and unwind is the Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds. I love to walk along the River Lark into the Crankles and No Man’s meadows.

I love the contrast as you walk from the busy hustle and bustle of Abbeygate Street and Angel Hill into the peace and quiet of the Abbey Gardens, the flower beds seem to tempt you to walk towards them as you pass through the Abbeygate.

Walking on down to the River Lark, you see the lovely specimen tress planted many years ago when the gardens were a botanic garden in the 1800s.

Crossing over the River Lark by the footbridge and looking back over the river you are then treated to a fabulous view of the Cathedral ‘s Millennium Tower rising above the Abbey ruins.

Walking on along the River Lark footpath and through the Crankles and No Man’s Meadows you ae treated to a such a peaceful walk, full of wildlife and yet only a few minutes from the town centre  

I also find yoga and pates is a great way to relax and unwind and Abbeycroft Lesure offers lots of classes on different days and times of the week, which means I can fit my work around the classes. 

My favourite place to eat is The Old Cannon Brewery. The Old Cannon offers a great mix, still a pub which brews its own award-winning beers which also has a great restaurant offering a seasonal menu, featuring locally grown specialities. 

The herbs are even grown in hanging baskets outside the kitchen!   It is in the town centre and is the heart of the local community.

I love shopping in St John’s Street in Bury St Edmunds. 

It offers an amazing selection of unique independent shops and restaurants, including a gin bar, surfing shops, a handmade art shop and gallery, kitchen shop, beer shop, vintage dress shop, hairdressers, pet shop and a cycle shop.

St John's Street appeals to all ages and interests, there is always something new to see when you walk down the street. 

The shops always give a friendly welcome and there are often fun activities in the street.

I love to spend a lazy Sunday morning or afternoon at wither Bury St Edmunds Golf Club or West Stow forest.

My husband and I are keen golfers and playing on a lovely sunny Sunday afternoon is always a pleasure, followed by tea and cake in the clubhouse watching the other golfers approach the 18th green.

Also, a walk in West Stow Forest with a group of friends and their dogs is a real treat, the sound of the wind and the sunlight streaming through the trees as our dogs have fun exploring, really sets you up for the week ahead.

My favourite place for an evening out is Abbeygate Cinema, comfortable seats, a good choice of drink and food in the restaurant/ bar as well as an excellent choice of the latest films.

The Abbeygate is part of the community linking in with the theme of the Bury Festival and other events such as the Christmas Fayre.

Ickworth House, Park and Gardens

It will always hold a special place in my heart, it was where I went to work when I moved back to Bury St Edmunds in 1995.

Ickworth is an amazing place: an eccentric Italianate house with a fabulous collection of family portraits, silver, furniture and a fan collection. 

The family history makes interesting reading and the living history re- enactments in the house brings the 1930s upstairs/downstairs world to life

The Harvey family have many connections to the town and the current Lord Bristol is kindly supporting the Guildhall project.

The Park and Gardens are lovely with the fantastic veteran trees. So many visitors can enjoy themselves, either just walking around the grounds or attending at one of the many events that are held all year.

The Guildhall

This is a hidden gem in the centre of town. I have loved The Guildhall since I was taken there as a small child by my grandfather who lived around the corner in Whiting Street. I celebrated my 21st there as did my daughter Olivia. 

The building is England’s oldest complete civic building.

 The beautiful ballroom, the old court room and the Observer Corps ‘Ops Room’ are now part of a Heritage Lottery funded project which will help preserve this lovely building and create a new and exciting Exhibition and Heritage Centre.

Moyse’s Hall Museum 

There is so much of the town’s history in this lovely medieval building on the Market Square in the centre of the town.

It offers a haven of peace on busy market days, holds some fascinating exhibitions throughout the year and houses the paintings by Mary Beale, England’s first professional female painter.

Each time I visit Moyse's Hall Museum I discover more about the town’s history from the knowledgeable staff.

Hopefully visitors to the town will find the museum and learn about our fascinating history.

Fullers Mill Garden

A tranquil haven in the forest, this lovely garden is near the West Stow Anglo Saxon village next to the River Lark.

Fullers Mill Garden combines a beautiful site of light dappled woodland with a fabulous collection of rare and unusual shrubs, perennials, lilies and marginal plants, collected over the course of 50 years by the creator of the garden Bernard Tickner.

I visited the garden when it first opened in 2004 and Bernard and his talented gardener Annie Dellbridge gave us the tour with Bernard explaining how he and his wife Bess had created the garden from the rough shrub and woodland which they inherited when the bought the property in 1958.

It is a delight from Spring to Autumn and a great contrast to my walks in the forest with friends and dogs