Bury St Edmunds is built in a valley carved out by two small rivers – the Lark and the Linnet, both chalk streams that date from about 8000 years ago. Both rivers meeting the centre of Bury and are tributaries of the River Great Ouse which flows to the sea at the Wash in Kings Lynn.

 

The River Lark, the larger of the two rivers, rises to the south of Bury St Edmunds near Bradfield Combust while the River Linnet rises in Ickworth Park, south west of the town.

 

Although small rivers today, both have shaped the present day Bury St Edmunds and indeed aided the growth of the town by providing early transport for building and goods for the markets as well as supporting local industries. Old water meadows exist in parts of the town. They were flooded early in the season to provide lush grass for cattle and to prevent the town from being flooded.

 

The Lark and Linnet Trail follows the two rivers and takes you around the town through a thousand years of history. Each bollard gives a snapshot of the history of the town and follows a water theme as well as showing pictures of the local flora and fauna.

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Norman Tower
Norman Tower
Artwork by  West Suffolk College – Teasel

 

This grand gateway was constructed between 1121 – 1148 as the main ceremonial entrance to the west front of the Abbey church and was aligned to Churchgate St. Pilgrims would process down the hill towards the gate and change money in today’s Chequer Sq before entering the Abbey. Bury had its own exchequer located on this square. The Norman Tower stands 80ft tall.

 

The gateway is built below today’s ground level – this is the original level of the land but extensive flooding, the ground level has risen  over the centuries. The main West front of the Abbey church stood directly in-line with the Norman Tower, the west front was crowned with a 300- 400ft tall tower. Today, the west front is still visible and later, housing was inserted into the ruins to preserve as much of the original as possible. As well as a gateway, the tower serves as a bell tower for the Cathedral. A total of ten bells were inserted into the tower in 1785, one of the bells weighs over 1 and a half tonnes.

Charnel House
Charnel House
Artwork by St Edmunds School – Blue Tit

The charnel house, situated across from the pictured Samson’s Tower was constructed in 1301 when the Abbot John De Northwold discovered that the graves in front of the west front of the Abbey were being reused many times; he feared for the bones of the deceased and wanted to ensure their safe reburail. Such was the demand for burial space as near to the Saint as possible, after 6 months in the grave, remains were then dug up, deposited into a crypt inside the Charnel House and then the graves reused again and again.

Rivers Meet
Rivers Meet
Artwork by St James School – Oak Tree

 

 

Onto the meeting point of the two Rivers – Lark & Linnet. Nearby were the ‘Crankles’ – medieval fish ponds providing food for the Abbey. The river Lark was diverted to provide fresh water to these ponds, whilst the river Linnet fed the watermill. On the far side were the Vineyards of the Abbey planted in the 13C, today recognised by the naming of the area as the Vinefields. A longer walk can be taken from here along to the open areas called Leg of Mutton & No Mans Meadow.

Shire Hall and Magpie Inn
Shire Hall and Magpie Inn
Artwork by West Suffolk College – Kingfisher

 

 

The Great Churchyard is dark and lonely at night time today, in centuries past it was the haunt of robbers and ne’r do wells. The Magpie Inn stood in this spot – a notorious hideout for the local criminals, indeed, the authorities would often visit the Magpie first when a crime had been committed as thieves would often try to sell the stolen property as quickly as possible. The Shire Hall courts building bought respectability to the area, the pub suddenly lost its customer base (too near to the law) and was demolished in 1871.

Manor House
Manor House
Artwork by St Edmunds School – Fox

 

 

The Manor House was built by Elizabeth Felton – the wife of the Earl of Bristol at Ickworth as a town house in 1736, Bury was the social centre for the local gentry who would build town houses in Bury to entertain guests and have a base to take part in the hectic  social life. Elizabeth worked for fifty days a year as mistress of the bedchamber to Queen Caroline – the wife of George II. Elizabeth built this magnificent home with her own money.

St Mary’s Church
St Mary’s Church
Artwork by West Suffolk College – Hare

 

 

St Marys Church – one of the largest parish churches in Britain, is the civic church of Bury. The current building is the second church built on this site and dates from the 15th century, the chancel of the current church is from about 1290. St Mary’s – dedicated to Mary, mother of Jesus has a magnificent hammer beam roof and also contains the tomb of Mary Tudor – Queen of France and sister of Henry VIII. Her tomb was originally in the Great Abbey, but at the dissolution was moved to its present site.

 

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St Mary’s Square
St Mary’s Square
Artwork by St Edmunds School – Rabbit

 

 

St Marys Square was the original market place of the Saxon town and the area was the hub of commerce. Originally the Horse Market, the three major streets of the Saxon town (Northgate, Westgate & Southgate) met at the square. Northgate Street originally ran from its current position through the area we call the Abbey Gardens to join up with Southgate and Westgate at this spot. In 1089, building work commenced on the Abbey and new grid system and the building line was bought to today’s Angel Hill, hence the corners on Angel Hill and Crown Street to allow for the Abbey.

 

Greene King Brewery
Greene King Brewery
Artwork by Howard M School – Peacock Caterpillar

 

 

Greene King is today one of Britain’s largest brewers and the company was formed right at the beginning of the 19th Century. Bury had over 20 breweries at that time, it was much safer to drink beer than the local water supply due to lack of sanitation! With its own deep bore hole on site, the brewery  is able to use the exceptional quality of the water for its products. Benjamin Greene and his business partner William Buck purchased the Westgate Brewery and started to expand the business. Benjamin sold the brewery to his son Edward. By 1868, the company had 76 inns and a period of consolidation of the number of breweries in the town was needed. Another maltster, Frederick King bought a maltings in St Mary’s Sq and began the St Edmunds brewery.

 

Theatre Royal
Theatre Royal
Artwork by St James School – Ladybird

 

 

The Theatre Royal is Britain’s third oldest theatre, and was built by William Wilkins (the builder of the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square in London) and opened in 1819. Called the ‘New Theatre’, the building replaced the Market Cross as the towns centre of entertainment and became part of the Norwich Players circuit. The play ‘Charley’s Aunt’ held its world premiere at the theatre in 1892, a great coup for the town. Due to competition from the new cinemas in 1925, the theatre closed and was used by Greene King to store barrels. Reopened as a live venue in 1965, today the theatre offers a full programme of events as well as behind the scenes tours.

Friars Lane and River Linnet
Friars Lane and River Linnet
Artwork by Howard M School – Dragonfly

 

 

Friars Lane was the site of a Franciscan order established in 1238, the friars preached & worked in the town but became a threat to the authority of the Abbot at the Abbey, as the friary was located too close for comfort. Eventually, the friars were evicted from the site and founded a new order on the site of today’s Priory Hotel off Mildenhall Road. A delightful longer walk can be taken by following Friars Lane down to the River Linnet bridge, and then following the St Edmunds Way footpath back to Cullum Road. This diversion walk goes through the water meadows that are fed by the River Linnet.

Line of walls and St Edmunds Roman Catholic Church
Line of walls and St Edmunds Roman Catholic Church
Artwork by Westgate P School – Red Admiral Butterfly

 

 

Bury was surrounded by a town wall/mound which followed the course of today’s St Andrews Street, hence the street is wide and straight. The Rivers provided a natural defence to the east and south. The walls were guarded by 5 gates – Westgate stood where the double roundabout is today. Leading down to the River Linnet flood plain was an area called the Butts – used in medieval times for archery practise – the Butts were the targets. All men over the age of 15 were expected to take up arms for the King if ever requested. The area outside of the Westgate was known as ‘Hell Fire’ corner, a favoured spot for preachers and speakers of the day to shout their sermons.

 

Hall house and Bury Workhouse
Hall house and Bury Workhouse
Artwork by Westgate P School – Dunnock Bird

 

 

On the corner of Hogg Lane (CollegeLn) & Whiting St stands a great example of a medieval hall house, with the timber frontage on show. Built around 1450, a hall house was a large open hall with a hearth at its centre to warm the whole building, the smoke from the fire would rise to vents in the roof. The Tudor timber frame survived later remodelling in the 1700’s, one of the few on view in Bury today. Across the road (today the site of BT) stood the Workhouse.

 

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Unitarian Meeting House
Unitarian Meeting House
Artwork by St James School – Marsh Orchid

 

 

The Unitarian Meeting House in Churchgate Street dates from 1711 and is a fine example of the many non conformist churches set up after the Toleration Act of 1689 gave one the ability to practise ones religion free of persecution. Still in use today, the meeting house comprises a gallery and boxes, quite different to medieval church architecture.

Original Abbey Stone
Original Abbey Stone
Artwork by Westgate P School – Hawthorn

 

 

Langton Place is named after Cardinal Langton who was present at the tomb of St Edmund in 1214 when the barons of England met in the Abbey to push through legislation that became known as the Magna Carta. When the Abbey was closed & dissolved in 1539, townspeople used the stone from the building to rebuild their premises, Abbey stone can be found in many buildings in the town as shown in the wall on the corner of Langton Place and Whiting Street.

Guildhall
Guildhall
Artwork by Howard M School – Mallard Duck

 

 

Due to the power and wealth of the Abbey, the Guildhall in Bury stands in a rather inconspicuous position; the Abbey feared any challenge to its authority and any attempt to form a town corporation was severely dealt with. In most cities the Guildhall would be located on the principal square, and show the power of the local authority, in Bury the building was relegated to a secondary street at the western edge of the medieval grid.

 

Corn Exchange
Corn Exchange
Artwork by West Suffolk College – Water Vole

 

 

The Corn Exchange was opened in 1862 at a cost of £8000 and was a striking addition to the town, showing the confidence and money of the Victorian period. The front pediment contains figures representing agriculture, industry and commerce. Once the second largest corn trading market outside of London, the original Exchange stands next to today’s building and contains the Halifax, Harriet’s and Laura Ashley.

 

Shambles and Old Fire Station
Shambles and Old Fire Station
Artwork by West Suffolk College – Brookline Plant

 

 

The Shambles was an area at the rear of the present Corn Exchange which since medieval times was where butchers plied their trade, a large open area containing meat stalls. The Shambles building survives and was given to the town by the Earl Of Bristol, his coat of arms visible high above the colonnade. The plate glass is modern, but the ventilation grills are visible above, this allowed air into the building and the stench to escape! The older Corn Exchange building (now the Halifax) became the site of the first permanent Fire station in the town in the late 1800’s.

 

Water Pump
Water Pump
Artwork by Howard M School – Puss Moth Caterpillar

 

 

The Shambles was one of the original sites of the cattle market in the town, but in 1827 the market was moved ‘outside of the walls’ to a site in St Andrews St South. The line of defences ran from the Westgate, along the course of St Andrews Street South and North, through Tayfen to the Northgate.

 

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Windmill
Windmill
Artwork by St James School – Hawthorn Flower

 

This area of the town was opened up for development by the building of Woolhall Street in 1828. Before that date there was no opening into the grid between the Westgate and Risbygate and so transport had to go quite a way to enter or exit the town. With the need for more housing, the old Woolhall situated next to the Woolpack Inn (now Pizza Hut) was demolished and a new opening created.

 

Old Swimming Pool
Old Swimming Pool
Artwork by St Edmunds School – Salmon

 

 

The parking area between Carluccio’s restaurant and Parkway was the site of the municipal open air swimming pool. None of today’s comforts – the pool had wooden changing rooms and was not heated! Thousands of Bury people would have learnt to swim in the chilly pool; the pool was also used by swimming clubs and local schools. With the building of the ring road and the opening of the Sports and Leisure centre on Beetons Way, the pool became obsolete and was closed.

Cattle Market
Cattle Market
Artwork by St James School – Muntjac Deer

 

 

The Cattle market was a major commercial event each week and bought in many people to shop and socialise in Bury. Animals were transported from local farms to be auctioned off and the animal pens provided excitement to countless children who came to see cows, sheep, pigs, rabbits, geese and more being sold. The noise and mess became part of the town folklore.

 

Grapes Public House
Grapes Public House
Artwork by St Edmunds School – Rove Beetle

 

 

The Grapes pub overlooks a major cross roads where stood the Risbygate, another of the towns gateways. Each of the 5 gates, except the Westgate, had a chapel attached or nearby, and a hospice to tend to the sick before they entered the town. Northgate had St Saviours Hospice (with ruins visible today), Eastgate had St Nicolas, Southgate had St Petronella. In Risbygate St stood a plague stone, where visitors and traders would dip their coins in vinegar to prevent the spread of small pox. The base of this plague stone now stands outside of the University campus in Our Risbygate.

St John’s Street
St John’s Street
Artwork by Westgate P School – Robin

 

 

St John’s Street was originally Long Brackland – broken ground – and laid out in the 12th century. In the 1800’s with the Victorian expansion of the town, the new  church of St John was built in 1841 and the street became the main route to the railway station which opened in 1846. With industry built nearest to the station, the area developed into a ‘town within a town’ and terraced streets of housing developed to house the workforce.

Moyse’s Hall
Moyse’s Hall
Artwork by Westgate P School – Harvest Mouse

 

 

Moyse’s Hall has stood on this site since the early 1100’s and was built as a merchants house, potentially the name could be interpreted as ‘Moses Hall’. The use of stone reflected the wealth of the owner and ensured that the building survived the numerous fires that hit the town. The clock and turret were added in the Victorian period. The Hall has had many uses over the centuries and was once destined to be Bury’s first fire station, alterations were made inside to accommodate the horse drawn carts and equipment. Today, Moyse’s Hall is a our local history museum with an ever-changing series of displays and events.

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Odeon Cinema
Odeon Cinema
Artwork by Westgate P School – Grey Squirrel

 

Bury St Edmunds was an early leader in terms of the new fashion of cinema going with the opening of the first cinemas in 1911. The Empire stood in Market Thoroughfare  whilst in nearby St John’s St stood the Electric Gem.

 

Abbeygate Street fire 1882
Abbeygate Street fire 1882
Artwork by St Edmunds School – Field Mouse

 

 

In 1882, a major fire engulfed the whole of the corner of Abbeygate and Hatter Streets, one of the largest fires the town had ever witnessed. A tobacconist named Simon Last set his premises alight to claim on his insurance, the fire went out of control and gutted the whole side of the street. The ruins were cleared and the street  rebuilt in a much larger Victorian style. Notice that the building line was set back to widen the street. Simon was found guilty of arson as his insurance certificates and claim forms arrived whilst the embers were still burning and he was sentenced to 5 years in prison.

Tunnels under Abbeygate Street
Tunnels under Abbeygate Street
Artwork by St James School – Hedgehog

 

 

Local folklore tells of tunnels leading from the Abbey, along Abbeygate St and the Traverse and ending in the market place. Many tunnels and cellars have been found and the buildings in  the Traverse have three levels of cellars. Due to the age of the buildings, excavation work has proved difficult, but in 1882 the huge fire on the corner of Hatter St and Abbeygate St exposed what could be the remains of the long lost tunnels.

Fire Mark
Fire Mark
Artwork by St James School – Barn Owl

 

 

High above No.s 19 & 20 Abbeygate St (Coral and No.Six) can be seen a fire mark for the Royal Insurance Company. Before the advent of municipal fire brigades, local fire fighters would only attend a fire if the building was insured (so that they got paid), and Fire marks were placed onto the outside of premises to show the crews the insurance company involved. If no fire mark was visible, the fire crews would rescue any occupants but would then leave the building to burn as they had no one to pay the bill!

Fountain & Sundial
Fountain & Sundial
Artwork by Westgate P School – Grasshopper

 

 

Presented to the town by the Marquis Of Bristol in 1871, the drinking fountain was originally positioned between the Corn Exchange and Nutshell Pub in the Traverse, but was moved to this site in 1939 due to road widening. The ‘Equation of Time’ on the Portland stone is significant as it is an early example of a dial that allowed the local clocks to be set to GMT instead of local mean time. A graph uses the ‘equation of time’ method to adjust the difference. Before the introduction of standard time for the railway timetables, towns and villages around the country worked on differing times, this was confusing to say the least!

 

Aviary
Aviary
Artwork by St Edmunds School – Magpie

 

 

Originally the site of the borough nursery greenhouses, and warmed by boilers located where today’s kiosk is situated, the aviary was opened in the mid 1960’s, a time when aviaries were at their height of fashion as an educational and visitor attraction. Over the years, many bird species including peacocks have been kept, and up until the mid 1980’s the site was also home to two monkeys – a great hit with the children. When one of the monkeys sadly passed away, the other was moved to Colchester Zoo.

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River Lark Bridge
River Lark Bridge
Artwork by Howard M School –  Snail

 

 

The River Lark was diverted here in the times of the Abbey to provide fresh drinking water whilst the River Linnet was used to power a water mill. The rivers were once larger than today but the lessening use of the rivers over the centuries has caused the narrowing of the waterways. The Lark was navigable up to the present Mildenhall Road, where wharves were built to store good bought by barge.

 

Abbots Bridge
Abbots Bridge
Artwork by St Edmunds School –  Peacock Butterfly

 

 

Constructed around 1180 by the Abbey sacrists who were responsible for the abbey infrastructure, the Abbots bridge was connected to the towns Eastgate, the only one of the towns gates directly controlled by the Abbott. In times of distress or for a quick escape the Bridge and gate provided the Abbott with an escape route. The Eastgate was fortified and provided the Abbot a safe place to hide in times of trouble. Planks would be laid across the arches and buttresses to enable people to cross.

 

Flooding
Flooding
Artwork by Howard M School – Frog

 

 

Being at the confluence of two rivers has meant that low lying ground in and around the town was susceptible to flood . Over the centuries Bury would often be hit by flooding and so large areas of low lying land was left empty of  buildings  to enable the waters to flood the meadows rather than the town. Names such as Tay Fen recall these areas liable to flood.

 

Flooding
Flooding
Artwork by St Edmunds School – Little Egret

 

 

Being at the confluence of two rivers has meant that low lying ground in and around the town was susceptible to flood . Over the centuries Bury would often be hit by flooding and so large areas of low lying land was left empty of  buildings  to enable the waters to flood the meadows rather than the town. Names such as Tay Fen recall these areas liable to flood.

Fox Public House, Eastgate Bridge
Fox Public House, Eastgate Bridge
Artwork by West Suffolk College  – Bracket Fungi

 

 

Dating from the early 16th century, the Fox Inn has stood in this key position next to the Eastgate and provided food and lodgings for centuries. The building’s design suggests that it was built as a hall house, similar to many around the town. The pub would have been on the main drovers route into Bury and who would then congregate on Ram Meadow.

 

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Download your Entry Form

 

In order to enter you need to download the entry form. Then you ready to go out and explore. Once you have found them all, complete the form, post or drop it into the: Tourist Information Point St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Angel Hill, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk IP33 1LS

 

Please click here to read the Prize trail rules.

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