The Top 5 Things to Do in Bury St Edmunds
As you can imagine, Bury St Edmunds has a lot more to offer than a simple choice of 5, but you have to start somewhere! My choices are not in any particular order, so just explore as the mood takes you:
The Abbey Gardens
The gardens combine history, leisure and a really picturesque backdrop for a simple stroll, whether it be a cloudless summer day or a day where the frost sparkles on the grass. Take a walk around the ruins of the massive Benedictine Abbey or try to discover the world's first internet bench; buy a picnic and savour the beautifully laid out formal gardens and discover the Water Garden or the Sensory Garden. There are plenty of seats to rest on and you can even get a cup of coffee or tea as well. Just beware of the 'friendly' grey squirrels!
The Street Market(s)
Every Wednesday and Saturday, the whole of the town centre is transformed by a vibrant and colourful street market where you can just wander around and absorb the atmosphere. If the urge arises, you can even buy something, whether it be utilitarian or a souvenir. If you feel peckish just seek out the street food. In addition to the regular market slots there are a series of specialist farm and other markets throughout the year, so keep your eyes peeled.
The Churches: St Mary's and St Edmundsbury Cathedral
You'd be hard pushed, anywhere, to find two such magnificent churches in such close proximity nor so much history. Discover the 3 building phases of the Cathedral and prepared to be astonished by the age of the tower or see it for yourself on a guided tour. Marvel at the light within the interior and see if you can count how many kneelers there are. Wander on to St Mary's and find the tomb of a queen (no, really), where the last Abbot of the Abbey is remembered, or a ceiling that twinkles like the night sky; that's just for starters.
The Theatre Royal
This is a real gem of a theatre and is the only working Regency Theatre, dating from 1819 that's left. Book in on one of the guided tours to really appreciate the unique interior of a hugely intimate space, which today only accommodates around 350 people. Hear about the characters and find out about a famous work, still produced today, that had it's world premier in this very theatre in 1892. If you have time, go and watch a play as well to complete the experience. A good topic for the next dinner party!
Shopping, Eating & Drinking
When the weather is clement (or even if it isn't) it's a must to savour the 'cafe culture' of the town and to stumble across those hidden pubs (including a very small one), coffee houses and eating places of many persuasions. There's no way you will go hungry or thirsty. After refreshments, nose around the narrow streets as you will find very individual enterprises selling a range of wares to suit every possible taste. If you're after the bigger outlets, dig out the map and head for the Arc, the more modern visage of this very ancient town that has much to offer any visitor.
You can find out more about the Bury St Edmunds tours that Mike is part of, by visiting their website.