Ancient manuscripts return to Bury for first time in 500 years

The ancient manuscripts can be seen at an exhibition at St Edmundsbury Cathedral 

The ancient manuscripts can be seen at an exhibition at St Edmundsbury Cathedral - Credit: Phil Morley

A number of ancient manuscripts written in Bury St Edmunds will return to the town for the first time in nearly 500 years as part of a new exhibition. 

The seven ancient manuscripts from the Abbey Scriptorium will be available to view at St Edmundsbury Cathedral's Secrets of the Abbey: History Returns exhibition - which runs from May 2 to June 8. 

The free exhibition gives people the rare opportunity to see the artefacts up close, and accompanying the display is more information detailing life at the Abbey and during those times. 

The artefacts are returning to where they were written for the first time in nearly 500 years

The artefacts are returning to where they were written for the first time in nearly 500 years - Credit: Phil Morley

The Abbey’s library had about 3,000 books by the time it was closed by Henry VIII in 1539, and of these only 270 survive.

A total of 154 are in Cambridge libraries, with 121 based at Pembroke College, which has loaned the ancient manuscripts for the exhibition.

Most were originally given to Pembroke College in 1599 by William Smart, Portreeve of Ipswich, and one was gifted by Edmund Boldero, who was born in Bury St Edmunds and became Master of Jesus College, Cambridge, in the mid-17th century.

People will have the opportunity to see the seven ancient manuscripts at the exhibition

People will have the opportunity to see the seven ancient manuscripts at the exhibition - Credit: Phil Morley

The exhibition is part of the Abbey 1000 series of events to mark the millennium of the founding of the Abbey of St Edmund, and was made possible through a heritage grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

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The Abbey 1000 celebrations are being coordinated by the Abbey 1000 C.I.C. (which includes St Edmundsbury Cathedral), alongside The Abbey of St Edmund Heritage Partnership.

Reverend Canon Matthew Vernon Picture: WEST SUFFOLK COUNCIL

Rev'd Canon Matthew Vernon said he was "delighted" to welcome back the ancient works - Credit: Archant

Revd Canon Matthew Vernon, who is part of the Abbey 1000 C.I.C., said, “We are delighted to welcome back these ancient works to the site of the Abbey.

"The monks showed their religious commitment by creating objects of great artistic skill and beauty. These manuscripts are some of the amazing creations surviving today which help us understand the life of the Abbey and its monks’ faith in God.”

The exhibition is running from May 2 to June 8 at St Edmundsbury Cathedral

The exhibition is running from May 2 to June 8 at St Edmundsbury Cathedral - Credit: Phil Morley

Tickets are now on sale for the free exhibition here and booking is essential as entry is timed.