Enjoy New Abbey Tours in Bury St Edmunds!

Visitors can enjoy six new tours which look at different aspects of life at the Abbey of St Edmund in Bury St Edmunds.

Bury St Edmunds Tour Guides have developed the new tours to celebrate the 1,000th anniversary of the founding of the Abbey. 

The new tours, which will run in addition to their daily 2pm tours, will describe how important the Abbey was locally and across Europe, bringing pilgrims and travellers to the town and the Shrine of St Edmund.  

To put everything into one tour would have been impossible, so the Guides have divided it into separate tours.

The new tours are: 

Abbey Habits: (Tuesdays at 11 am, lasting 90 minutes)
80 Benedictine monks in their black habits occupied the Abbey.  It’s a fascinating chance to find out how the monks spent their lives at work, rest or prayer and a chance to look beneath those habits!.

The Bitesize Abbey: (Wednesdays at 1 pm, lasting 60 minutes)
This is for busy people who fancy an hour’s tour whilst snacking.  It is a brisk walk around the Abbey grounds where you can learn loads of interesting facts - the church was 150m long – one of the longest in Europe, and crucially 7m longer than the Cathedral of the Abbot’s great rival, the Bishop of Norwich!

Circling the Abbey: (Thursdays 11 am, lasting 90 minutes)
The boundaries of the Abbey precinct reveal how important it was to monarchs who came to visit.  When King Henry VI visited in 1433 his retinue was a mile long and although 70 horses could be stabled at the Abbey around another 200 had to be accommodated in town.

A darker side of the Abbey: (Fridays 11 am, lasting 90 minutes)
This will include why it’s not wise to upset St Edmund!  In 1014 one of the Danes, King Sweyn Forkbeard threatened to destroy Bury unless a huge ransom was paid.  Legend has it that Forkbeard was struck dead by the apparition of Edmund who impaled him with a spear!

The Legacy of the Abbey: (Saturdays 11 am, lasting 90 minutes)
Tells us what happened after the Abbey ceased in 1539.  It  was purchased in 1560 by a local nobleman John Eyre for £412 19s 4d.  There are lots of historic facts and amusing stories from the past five centuries and you can unravel the connections of monkeys, Napoleon, Brandon rubble and a balloon!  Now it is renowned for its floral beauty and its ruins.

Funny stories for an Abbey Birthday
An activity tour for children aged 6 and upwards on selected dates of school holidays, see our Abbey 1000 Celebrations Guide for details! These are a great way of helping children understand the special nature of the Abbey whilst giving them loads of fun and enjoyment.  In fact, previous children’s tours ended up with the grown ups making more noise than their children!  You are never too young or too old to learn! 

The Tour Guides also offer daily tours at 2pm. For more information and to book visit their website at:

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