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Born in Bury St Edmunds

Discover some of the famous names that started their life in historic Bury St Edmunds...

Stephen Gardiner - Bishop of Winchester and Lord High Chancellor of the Exchequer 

Stephen Gardiner was born in Bury St Edmunds in 1483. His father is believed to have been John Gardiner, but could have been Wyllyam Gardiner, a substantial cloth merchant of the town where he was born. He studied classics at Trinity College, Cambridge and then devoted himself to canon and civil law.

He became the Bishop of Winchester from 1531 and held the position until 1555.  Not only was Gardinder a central figure in the English Reformation but also a man surrounded by contradictions. He led the early resistance to Henry VIII’s break with Rome and was involved in Mary’s burnings of Protestants, and yet he also wrote the most eloquent defence of Henry’s position as Supreme Head of the Church and tried hard to work with Edward VI’s Protestant regime.  

18th Century Landscape artist Humphry Repton

Humphry Repton was the last great English landscape designer of the eighteenth century, often regarded as the successor to Capability Brown; he also sowed the seeds of the more intricate and eclectic styles of the 19th century. 

Born in Bury St Edmunds on 21st April 1752, Repton was the son of a collector of excise, John Repton, and Martha. After trying his hand as a journalist, dramatist, artist, political agent, and as confidential secretary to his neighbour William Windham of Felbrigg Hall, Repton combined his sketching skills with his experiences of laying out groundsto become a landscape gardener.

Repton's success was due to his undeniable talent and the unique way he presented his work. To help clients visualise his designs, he produced 'Red Books' with explanatory text and watercolours with a system of overlays to show 'before' and 'after' views. 

Director Sir Peter Hall

Image: The Royal Shakespeare Company


The iconic Director Peter Hall was born in Bury St Edmunds on 22nd November 1930, the only son of Grace and Reginald Hall. His father was a stationmaster and the family lived for some time at Great Shelford Station. 

Hall founded the Royal Shakespeare Company (1960–68) and went on to build an international reputation in theatre, opera, film and television. He was director of the National Theatre (1973–88) and artistic director of Glyndebourne Festival Opera (1984–1990). 

Actor Bob Hoskins

The well known and award-winning actor, Bob Hoskins was born in Bury St Edmunds, despite being known for playing cockney gangsters! His time in the town was short-lived though as his family moved to Finsbury Park when he was just two weeks old. 

His acting career began in 1968 Victoria Theatre in Stoke-on-Trent, in a production of Romeo and Juliet. His first TV role was as Alf Hunt, a removal man in On the Move, but his breakthrough came in 1978 when he played Arthur Parker in the BBC version of Dennis Potter's innovative 6-part fantasy-drama Pennies from Heaven.

An illustrious film an TV career followed, featuring in films such as The Long Good Friday and Mona Lisa - for which he won a Cannes Award, Best Actor Golden Globe, BAFTA Awards, and an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.

Actor Michael Maloney

Born in Bury St Edmunds in 1957, Michael Maloney's first television appearance was as Peter Barkworth's teenage son in the 1979 drama series, Telford's Change.

Maloney went on to star in many television series including Kenneth Branagh's 1989 film adaptation of Henry V and Mr Wakefield's Crusade. His film career included the role of Mark in Truly, Madly, Deeply, and in 1994 he took the lead in the BBC adaptation of Love on a Branch Line. More recently he took on the role of John Major in 2009's Margaret and Prime Minister and Sir Robert Peel in the 2009 film The Young Victoria.

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