New tennis courts to open next week

New public tennis courts are to open in the Abbey Gardens from July 1, marking the completion of the first physical project by the Abbey of St Edmund Heritage Partnership.

West Suffolk Council, which is part of the partnership, has completed work after gaining Scheduled Monument Consent from Historic England.

Two new courts will be available from next month, replacing the old ones which have been removed from near the Abbey crypt.

Titan Tennis will be offering coaching sessions on Saturday mornings. Players are asked to ensure they follow social distancing guidelines.

John Griffiths, leader of West Suffolk Council, said: “It has long been our ambition to replace the old courts and move them to a more suitable setting within the gardens. The gardens provide a wonderful opportunity for people to relax and unwind, as well as to enjoy and participate in certain sports including tennis and mini golf.

“It is perhaps particularly important at this time, when many of us may have been struggling to get enough exercise, that there are these opportunities to enjoy sport for our physical as well as mental health. That is why we are so delighted that our £263,000 investment in the extension of the public gardens into the former Eastgate nursery, which includes these new public tennis courts, is now complete. We anticipate that these courts will be very popular and I’d like to thank all the partner organisations and the neighbouring residents and clubs, both for their support as well as their tolerance during the works.”

The new tennis courts, which meet Lawn Tennis Association standards, have been built on the site of the former Eastgate Nurseries, a site which had in more recent years been used for storage. Community archaeological investigations were carried out on the site ahead of the new courts being laid.

As well as new courts, the work has also seen pedestrian improvements from Eastgate Street to the River Lark path and provided a new riverside picnic area while

English Heritage funded repairs to sections of the boundary walls.

Rev Canon Matthew Vernon, chairman of the Abbey of St Edmund Heritage Partnership, said: “Part of the Abbey area has, in modern times, been used for recreation and leisure, and these new courts will ensure that that continues. It also presents further opportunities.

“The partnership’s aim is to find out more about its archaeology and history so we can understand and share more of the story of St Edmund and the Abbey with local people and visitors. We still hope to have a scan of a wide area of the site to further the research and discover more about what links to the Abbey’s medieval past may lie beneath and we will announce more on this when we are able.”

The new tennis courts can be booked via the Lawn Tennis Association court app – simply go into the app and search for Abbey Gardens (Bury St Edmunds). Alternatively visit https://clubspark.lta.org.uk/AbbeyGardens/Booking

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