In 2020, Bury St Edmunds will celebrate the founding of the Abbey of St Edmund by King Canute 1,000 years ago with a programme of events leading up to the weekend of St Edmund’s Day on November 20.
The first Patron Saint of England and King of East Anglia, Saint Edmund was enshrined in the Abbey consequently lending his name to the town, which was built around it. The shrine brought visits from across the UK and abroad including Royalty as the Abbey became one of the most famous and wealthy pilgrimage locations in England.
The Abbey was destroyed during the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539. Edmund’s bejewelled shrine was plundered but Edmund’s body was missing. His whereabouts are still a great mystery to this day but it is thought he is buried somewhere in the Abbey’s grounds.
In 2013 historian Dr Francis Young came across a document that was previously unknown from a monk that said Edmund’s body was placed in an iron chest. In his book “Edmund – In Search of England’s Lost King”, Dr Francis Young explores the theory that St Edmund’s remains still lie within the Abbey and may be buried in the monks’ cemetery, which lies beneath the tennis courts in the Abbey Gardens and consecrated ground.
Today, the Abbey remains are extensive and include the complete 14th century Great Gate and Norman Tower, as well as the impressive ruins and altered west front of the immense church, St Mary’s Church and parts of St Edmundsbury Cathedral. They are surrounded by the beautiful Abbey Gardens, an award-winning 14-acre park, and visited by 1.3 million people from all over the world every year.
For more information on the anniversary and celebrations visit www.abbeyofstedmund1000.co.uk and for more information about where to stay and things to see and do in Bury St Edmunds and the surrounding area visit www.burystedmundsandbeyond.co.uk