Monument record BSE 010 - Abbey Grounds, Bury St Edmunds; Abbot's Bridge; St Marys [1st] church (Med)

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Scheduled Monument - Abbey complex.


Grid reference Centred TL 856 642 (361m by 435m)
Map sheet TL86SE


Type and Period (11)

Full Description

Quarterly meeting Clare, September 14, 1848. Mr Sams exhibited a key found in Abbey grounds, Bury St Edmunds (S1).
Also APs of abbey (S2)(S6)(S7).
St Edmundsbury was one of the 4 or 5 most powerful and wealthy Benedictine Monasteries in England. A small monastery was founded in c.633. The church of St Mary, founded by Sigeberht, was demolished by Abbot Anselm (1121-48) as it stood in the way of the new right (south) arm of the abbey church (S15). For St Mary's replacement see BSE 058.
King Edmund was martyred by the Danes in c.869. In C10 the community was of secular priests, replaced by 20 Benedictine Monks of King Canute in c.1020. William the Conqueror increased its privileges and the number of monks was raised to 50 in c.1081; the church was rebuilt then and subsequently under Abbot Baldwin c.1065-1097. The relics of St Edmund were translated in c.1095. Parts round the cloister were built, followed by the nave and the W front, the latter being in hand by c.1140 at the latest. The monastery was sacked and burnt in the riots of 1327 after the death of Edward II. The precinct, which is not built over, is about 457m N-S and 304m W-E.
For Whittingham plan etc see (S11).
The Scheduled area includes the site of the Abbey church (for discussion see S9) and claustrial buildings, except two sections incorporated in later houses; the open ground to the N & E enclosed by the remains of the precinct wall, and including the remains of the Abbot's Palace; the Abbot's bridge (probably C13)(see S5) and the smaller bridge across the same stream further S; 3 detached fragmentsof the precinct wall outside the main scheduled area; and the remains of St Andrew's Chapel; the dovecote and the C14 rebuilt gatehouse. Details in (S3).
1902-3: excavations (the area of the chapter-house). Finds included the stone coffins of the 'five-abbots' (see S13).
1957-1964: Excavated Saunders A D.& Thompson M.W., (east end of Cathedral - new build; PSIA 31, 256-262 & PSIA 35 1-30; archive with English Heritage?).
1957-1964: The Abbey church was cleared by labourers between 1957 & 1964, under the supervision of R Gilyard-Beer (undercroft, trascept & choir; published in S10?). For report on the architectural fragments see (S12).
1958: Excavated Ralegh Radford C.A., (in area of new Quire behind St James Church; PSIA 28, 90; Med Arch 3, 305).
1964: Excavated Biddle M.(Med Arch 8, 244; Arch J 108).
1973: Excavated Drewett P L/Stuart I W. (Norman Tower, published PSIA - see BSE 174).
1976: Excavated Fleming A J/Woods H M. (Queen's Tower; archive with English Heritage)
1990: Resistivity survey in grounds detected considerable evidence for buried stonework. A substantial wall was detected running diagonally in the SE section of the survey area. A possible tower was detected 60m to the south of the surviving hexagonal tower (The Dovecot). Other walls were also seen. Details in (S17).
For various excavations see (S4).
1997: Visual assessment of damage to precinct wall at E gate (TL 85691 64351), this section of wall is to be rebuilt but is not medieval and is likely to be relatively modern work, though on the line of the medieval wall. It appears to be an addition to an earlier gate abutment in order to narrow the access (S18).

2001: The surveyed monument was the west gable of a north-south aligned building which could be dated to the 13th century by the small lancet in the south wall. The gable is now attached to, what remains of, the long range, the Hall of Pleas, to the north by a later addition and this is how it is shown on the Warren Map (1791). Warren also shows the buildings joined to a north-south range, labelled as a dormitory, by a north wall; this no longer exists but the scar where it joined the gable, further details (S14)

2014: An assessment was made of the flint and rubble wall that forms part of the the boundary to the Crankles Corner offices. The office stand on the site of the former St Margaret's chapel, it lies within the precinct of the medieval abbey of St Edmunds and part of a designated scheduled monument. The wall surveyed is c.25m long and 1.7m high and includes the remains of a small parapet that extends c.0.6m above the terrace level. The wall as an expression of the current boundary dates probably to the latter part of the 18th century but has made use of a pre-existing wall, part of an earlier structure that dates from the 16th century (S15)

For Norman Tower (circa 1121-46) see BSE 174; for chancel chapel, see BSE 040; for monks cemetery, see BSE 092; for fishponds, see BSE 062; for vinery, see BSE 063; and excavations in modern refectory area, see BSE 052; for Sachrist's House and mint (outside the walls) see BSE 336.
16 August 2004: Two disarticulated human bones exposed on side of former MOW excavations at (see 'Not to be published on web' tab for finder/s and/or findspot/s)- probably redeposited by MOW? Borough advised to recover the bones (S8)
Also IA & Sax.

Sources/Archives (20)

  • --- Bibliographic reference: Jervoise, E.. 1932. The Ancient Bridges of Mid and Eastern England.
  • <M1> Photograph: CUCAP. CUCAP aerial photograph. AP: CUCAP AU 42.
  • <S1> Bibliographic reference: Suffolk Institute of Archaeology. Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology. PSIA, 1, 1853, 26.
  • <M2> (No record type): SAM file:.
  • <S2> Photograph: CUCAP. CUCAP aerial photograph. CUCAP, AP AU 41 & 42, 1948.
  • <S3> Unpublished document: Department of the Environment. Scheduling information.
  • <S4> (No record type): Carr J, Suffolk Excavations index archive, ms, 1989.
  • <S6> Photograph: Essex County Council. Air Photograph. Essex CC, BW/99/16/8-10.
  • <S7> Photograph: Air Photographs. NAU, TL 856 641, JDF 11-13, 1 July 1996.
  • <S8> Verbal communication: Personal communication. Anderson S & Gill D, August 2004.
  • <S9> Bibliographic reference: Gransden A (ed). 1998. Bury St Edmunds: Medieval Art, Architecture, Archaeology & Economy. Fernie E et al, 'The Romanesque Church of Bury St Edmunds Abbey' (& following), 1-44, ill.
  • <S10> Bibliographic reference: Suffolk Institute of Archaeology. Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology. Gilyard-Beer R, 'The Eastern Arm of the Abbey Church at Bury St Edmunds', PSIA, 31, 256-262.
  • <S11> Article in serial: Whittingham, A.B.. 1951. 'Bury St Edmunds Abbey. Arch J 108: 168-87.
  • <S12> Unpublished document: Samuel, M.. 2005. Bury St Edmunds Abbey: Report on the Architectural Fragments from The Excavations of 1857-64 of The East Arm, Crossing & Transept Arm.
  • <S13> Bibliographic reference: Barker, H. R.. 1907. West Suffolk Illustrated. 53-58.
  • <S14> Unpublished document: Gill, D.. 2002. Archaeological Survey Report: Abbey Wall C, Wall behind the bowls hut facing onto the cathedral precinct garden, Bury St Edmunds, BSE 010.
  • <S15> Unpublished document: Gill, D.. 2014. Historic Asset Assessment, Crankles Corner Wall Survey, The Old House, Shire Hall, Bury St Edmunds.
  • <S16> Unpublished document: Gill, D.. 1998. Monument Survey Report: North Precinct Wall, Bury Abbey, Bury St Edmunds.
  • <S17> Unpublished document: Payne, A.. 1990. Resistivity Survey, Bury St Edmunds Abbey.. English Heritage (AML), `Bury St Edmunds Abbey Suffolk: Resistivity Survey, March 1990', Report 100.
  • <S18> Unpublished document: Carr, R.. 1997. Abbey Precinct Wall (Gate Area) Mustow Street, Bury St Edmunds.

Finds (2)

Protected Status/Designation

Related Monuments/Buildings (2)

Related Events/Activities (4)

Record last edited

Oct 23 2018 1:22PM

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