Busy in Bury St Edmunds and Milling about in Melford

Wednesday 2nd September 2015

Today we beetled off eastward to the rolling green landscape of Suffolk to the busy market town of Bury St Edmunds.  Edmund was the C9th  King of East Anglia who was murdered  by opponents and his body dismembered and he was beheaded. Allegedly a wolf guarded his head until supporters came to find him and his body was eventually buried at the town now known as Bury St Edmunds. Today there are wolves everywhere around town and the story is alive and well.

The wolf appears all around Bury St Edmunds protecting the town

The wolf appears all around Bury St Edmunds protecting the town

It was market day today and we enjoyed the Autumnal  sunshine wandering the streets and sharing in the Salamanca Hobart like bustle and excitement with buskers everywhere. It is a very smart shopping centre with or without market day and the whole town generates a sense of pride and purpose. The Palladian Corn Exchange was particularly busy with a very popular beer brewing festival in full swing.

Palladian Corn Exchange in Bury St Edmunds busy today on Market day with a Brewing festival

Palladian Corn Exchange in Bury St Edmunds busy today on Market day with a Brewing festival

A squirrel busy in the old abbey park with all the visitors and action

A squirrel busy in the old abbey park with all the visitors and action

clever topiary in Bury St Edmunds park

clever topiary in Bury St Edmunds park

The town retains a high sense of history with its ancient abbey ruins dating from 1065 and plundered by Henry VIII’s operatives. Today the ruins form part of a huge and beautifully tendered garden presentation much loved by families.

A Benedictene Abbey existed on the site of Bury St Edmunds from 1065 but was destroyed by Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries. Today only the city gates to the monastery, parts of the old wall  and a few scattered ruins remain but the townsfolk have kept the site in the middle of town and transformed it into a beautiful garden park with stunning summer flowers and playgrounds for children

What a beauty!

What a beauty!

Abbey gardens in Bury St Edmunds

Abbey gardens in Bury St Edmunds

Ancient C14th gate into the former abbey

Ancient C14th gate into the former abbey

all that's left of the old abbey

all that’s left of the old abbey

During the English Reformation work began on not one but three Protestant churches in Bury St Edmunds. One, St Margarets has been demolished.  Two remain, and ironically they stand side by side with only a cemetery in between…St James’ Church was begun in 1503 as a late Gothic design with additions in 1711(new chancel) and the C19th (new roof and another new chancel).  The most radical changes occurred post 1914 when St James was consecrated a Cathedral. Since that time massive changes have occurred the most recent of which include a new quire and crossing (1970), a new cathedral centre and song school ((1990); new Gothic style lantern tower (2005) and new cloisters and transfiguration chapel (2008). Bury St James’ “Gothic” Cathedral is effectively England’s newest Gothic style Cathedral and it is alive and kicking with a lively congregation and a magnificent interior.

Bury St Edmunds Cathedral with its brand new (2005)

Bury St Edmunds Cathedral with its brand new (2005) “Gothic” lantern tower

Bury St Edmunds Cathedral new extensions including choir school, treasury, tea shop, even cloisters

Bury St Edmunds Cathedral new extensions including choir school, treasury, tea shop, even cloisters

Bury St Edmunds Cathedral from old abbey gardens

Bury St Edmunds Cathedral from old abbey gardens

Bury St Edmunds Cathedral main communion table in the new quire (built 1970)

Bury St Edmunds Cathedral main communion table in the new quire (built 1970)

Bury St Edmunds Cathedral interior nave showing the new quire perfectly matching the older section

Bury St Edmunds Cathedral interior nave showing the new quire perfectly matching the older section

Bury St Edmunds Cathedral the new quire

Bury St Edmunds Cathedral the new quire

Bury St Edmunds Cathedral the interior of the tower with painted fan vaulting

Bury St Edmunds Cathedral the interior of the tower with painted fan vaulting

painted ceiling of Bury St Edmunds Cathedral nave difficult to capture with iPhone

painted ceiling of Bury St Edmunds Cathedral nave difficult to capture with iPhone

Font in Bury St Edmunds Cathedral

Font in Bury St Edmunds Cathedral

Font with WW11 memorial cover

Font with WW11 memorial cover

Also since the Reformation, St Mary’s church has arisen from the destruction of the Benedictine Abbey of St Edmund. It is larger than St James and the nave at 213 feet is the longest English parish church. Unlike the Cathedral St Mary’s has had few major changes and remains an authentic late Gothic church with wonderful stained glass, the tomb of Mary Tudor, third sister of Henry V111 and an ancient porch dating from 1440 commemorating merchant John Notyygham and his wife Isobel. According to the folk we spoke to both churches have lively congregations, one “High Church” and the other “Low Church”. It is an interesting phenomenon.

1440 porch in memory of one John Nottingham and his wife Isobel at St Mary's Church in Bury St Edmunds

1440 porch in memory of one John Nottingham and his wife Isobel at St Mary’s Church in Bury St Edmunds

St Mary's Parish church nave to sanctuary 213feet, the longest parish church in England in Bury St Edmunds

St Mary’s Parish church nave to sanctuary 213feet, the longest parish church in England in Bury St Edmunds

Memorial to Mary Tudor, Henry VIII's third sister buried at St Mary's Bury St Edmunds (not to be confused with Mary Henry's daughter or with Mary Queen of Scots!)

Memorial to Mary Tudor, Henry VIII’s third sister buried at St Mary’s Bury St Edmunds (not to be confused with Mary Henry’s daughter or with Mary Queen of Scots!)

Elizabeth 1 stained glass window in St Mary's Church in Bury St Edmunds (actually C18th but from an old painting)

Elizabeth 1 stained glass window in St Mary’s Church in Bury St Edmunds (actually C18th but from an old painting)

Windows and flags above entrance to St Mary's church in Bury St Edmunds

Windows and flags above entrance to St Mary’s church in Bury St Edmunds

Simple sanctuary with tomb of Mary Tudor in St Mary's church Bury St Edmunds

Simple sanctuary with tomb of Mary Tudor in St Mary’s church Bury St Edmunds

We drove on from Bury St Edmunds to the Elizabethan Melford Hall which sits 15kms from the town in the beautiful Village of Melford which indeed also has its own very large parish church.

Very large village church of Melford rising over the horizon from Melford Hall

Very large village church of Melford rising over the horizon from Melford Hall

Melford Hall has been in the Hyde Parker family for the past 300 years and is set in the midst of idyllic Suffolk wool country. The home is run by the National Trust but the family still alive in one wing of the building. It is no treasure house and the charm of this home is that the furniture and fittings are not so totally removed from everyday life although there are some magnificent individual items.

Moat and entry to Melford Hall

Moat and entry to Melford Hall

Melford Hall exterior

Melford Hall exterior

Melford Hall from the gardens

Melford Hall from the gardens

tiny chapel in Melford Hall still consecrated and used from time to time

tiny chapel in Melford Hall still consecrated and used from time to time

fine cabinet from Melford Hall

fine cabinet from Melford Hall

and another wonderful cabinet

and another wonderful cabinet

Melford Hall library

Melford Hall library

and again the library

and again the library

and yes again!

and yes again!

Main staircase at Melford Hall

Main staircase at Melford Hall

garden and fountain at Melford Hall

garden and fountain at Melford Hall

Melford Hall gardens with Beatrix Potter influence

Melford Hall gardens with Beatrix Potter influence

wonderful fruiting crab apple in Melford Hall garden

wonderful fruiting crab apple in Melford Hall garden

We both felt really at peace in this quiet corner of Suffolk ..not as intense as the tightly knit villages of some other counties and a sense of distance on a sunny day…idyllic England of the poets…. hard to capture  with our camera

The view from the main bedroom

The view from the main bedroom

A unique feature of this home is the prevailing influence of children’s writer and ecology campaigner Beatrix Potter who was a cousin of the Hyde Parker family.  Here is found the original Jemima Puddleduck  and a large number of original paintings and drawings of Beatrix Potter and her influence is seen in the garden design and other elements of the home. The small villages of Suffolk are enchanting and we drove through many of them today. An English sunny day in the country is difficult to match!

Yes the actual original Jemima Puddleduck

Yes the actual original Jemima Puddleduck

Beatrix Potter painting of Jemima Puddleduck (colours not right in photo)

Beatrix Potter painting of Jemima Puddleduck (colours not right in photo)

Melford Hall Beatrix Potter painting Melford Hall Beatrix potter rat

Two more Beatrix Potter paintings of many at Melford Hall

Beatrix Potter's bedroom at Melford Hall

Beatrix Potter’s bedroom at Melford Hall

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