Which of Bury St Edmunds historic buildings has been used as a prison and a police station and what is the Royal connection at St Mary’s Church?
The answers can be found on a Bury St Edmunds town tour.
Tourism is big business in Bury St Edmunds with 724,000 trips a year, while the value of tourism to the local economy has been calculated as more than £45million.
Now, following investment by St Edmundsbury Borough Council, the town has just recruited 13 new green badge tour guides. Each has taken part in an eight month national Institute of Tourist Guiding course, culminating in a written exam and two practical assessments.
The 13 volunteers will lead tour groups specifically in Bury St Edmunds and take the total number of local tour guides in the town up to 25.
Councillor Alaric Pugh, St Edmundsbury’s Cabinet Member for Planning and Growth said: “There is such a rich and exciting history to Bury St Edmunds and many of the buildings, the tapestry of these tales, still stand all around us. These tour guides are all volunteers who are enthusiastic about bringing this history to life for the hundreds of thousands of visitors that come to Bury St Edmunds each year and boost the local economy.
“All of this is part of our wider work with our key partners in tourism to encourage visitors to come to West Suffolk throughout the year, to stay longer, recommend the area to their friends, and of course to book up to come back again.”
Tours are held daily at 2pm during May and June and twice a day from July to September at 11am and 2pm and cost just £5. The tours, which are also available in French and German start from the Tourist Information Point on Angel Hill.
Mike Dean, Chair of the Bury Association of Tour Guides, said: “During the height of season we welcome up to four coach tours a day to Bury St Edmunds. Many of our visitors are from the United States and across Europe, as well of course from other parts of the UK.
“I think Bury St Edmunds has so much to offer, whether it’s the history of the Abbey which was once the fourth largest building in the whole of Christendom, the birth of Magna Carta, and St Edmund who was once our king and patron saint. We also have the final resting place of Royalty at St Mary’s Church, the intriguing history of Moyse’s Hall, The Nutshell, once the smallest pub in the World, the stunning Cupola House rising like a phoenix from the ashes, and the Medieval Grid – the layout of the historic town centre which has gone on to be replicated across the United States in places such as New York.
“On top of this we also have the magnificent Cathedral, Theatre Royal, the only example of a Regency playhouse left in this country, both of which run their own tours.
The town is extremely lucky to have such a dedicated team of nationally accredited guides acting as ambassadors for this beautiful area of Suffolk.”