5 Hidden Gems to Explore at St Mary's Church
St Mary's Church in Bury St Edmunds is the final resting place of Mary Tudor, Queen of France, and Henry VIII’s favourite sister but the church has many other hidden gems to explore.
It is one of the largest and most historic church buildings in the country and is the civic church of Bury St Edmunds.
1. The unique and beautiful hammer beam ‘angel’ roof
St Mary's has one of the finest Angel roofs in the country.
Hammer beams alternate with arch braces. The hammer beams are carved as angels set in pairs, 11 on each side. The angels were carved by Suffolk craftsmen more than 500 years ago, and a recent inspection revealed they are still in very good condition.
2. St Edmund's Window
As you enter St Mary's if you look straight ahead and up at the beginning of the aisle you can see ahead of you the window dedicated to St Edmund.
He is tied to a tree and shot by arrows. The glass is by Thomas Willement and is based on a medieval pilgrim's badge.
3. Mary Tudor's Window
In the South Chapel is the Mary Tudor Window. The window is by Clayton and Bell and dates from 1881.
It was presented by Queen Victoria in memory of Princess Mary Tudor, Queen of France and Duchess of Suffolk. It depicts Mary's life and death. Mary's tomb can be found at the back of the church.
4. Roof Carvings
There are 409 carvings on the nave roof, 198 in the chancel, 111 in the south aisle, 94 in the north aisle, and 47 in each of the chancel chapels.
Plus, 32 carved stone corbels support each aisle roof, making more than 970 medieval carvings above your head!
5. The Last Abbot of the Abbey
The last Abbot of the Abbey of St Edmund was John Reeve (1514-39) is buried in St Mary's Church.
The spot is marked by a large stone with a brass of the Abbot and his coat of arms. The brass was removed in 1643 and the original gravestone moved to the churchyard in 1746.
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