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Is St Edmund buried under site of the old tennis courts in Bury St Edmunds?

PUBLISHED: 22:02 05 December 2018

The Reverend Canon Matthew Vernon, chairman of the St Edmund Heritage Partnership, in the grounds of the Abbey Gardens, in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: WEST SUFFOLK COUNCILS

The Reverend Canon Matthew Vernon, chairman of the St Edmund Heritage Partnership, in the grounds of the Abbey Gardens, in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: WEST SUFFOLK COUNCILS

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A conference is being held in Bury St Edmunds next month which will reveal the finding of studies and ideas for possible projects and events to mark 1,000 years of the foundation of The Abbey of St Edmunds, which dates back to 1020.

St Edmunds Cathedral and Borough Council get £40k funding from Historic England to preserve the Abbey Ruins.St Edmunds Cathedral and Borough Council get £40k funding from Historic England to preserve the Abbey Ruins.

And one of the burning questions on the lips of many is whether St Edmund is buried under the site of the old tennis courts.

But the search for his body will not take place without “careful research”, including scans across the whole area and all the necessary permissions required.

The Abbey of St Edmund Heritage Partnership is set to release the findings of two studies along with potential ideas that may follow, at the conference entitled “The Abbey of St Edmund Past, Present and Future” on Saturday, January 26, from 10am to 4pm, at St Edmundsbury Cathedral.

It is being supported by the University of East Anglia and will include a discussion of people’s views on the importance of the various potential projects for the Abbey site as well as how they could be funded and delivered.

Saint Edmund statue and St Edmundsbury Cathedral.Saint Edmund statue and St Edmundsbury Cathedral.

The partnership, which is led by St Edmundsbury Cathedral in collaboration with St Edmundsbury Borough Council and nearly 20 other local and regional public, private and voluntary organisations,

commissioned the studies last year - a Heritage Assessment, which gathered together all the historical and archaeological information about the Abbey in one place for the first time, and a Conservation Plan, which will help shape its future.

Reverend Canon Matthew Vernon, the chairman of the Heritage Partnership, said: “St Edmund and the Abbey established in his honour after he was martyred are central to our understanding of the religious and historical importance of Bury St Edmunds not just nationally but internationally including its role as the birthplace of Magna Carta in establishing the freedoms that are now ingrained in modern democracy.

“But there’s so much of the Abbey story that hasn’t been fully told or appreciated and there is also so much that can be done not only to preserve what we have left of the Abbey but also to interpret and tell its story to future generations.

“That is why these studies, which were funded jointly by Historic England and St Edmundsbury Borough Council, are so important and why we are looking forward to sharing their findings and our ideas for the future next month.

“Of course one question that is constantly being asked is whether St Edmund himself is buried under the site of the old tennis courts. While there is great excitement at this possibility, nothing can or indeed should take place without careful research, including scans across the whole area and of course all the necessary statutory permissions that would be required.”

Robert Everitt, Cabinet Member for Families and Communities at St Edmundsbury Borough Council, said: “Residents in and around Bury St Edmunds are proud of the area’s history and identity and rightly so. The St Edmund’s Day celebrations that take place around the town each November are growing in stature every year. I’m looking forward to the Heritage Partnership sharing the fascinating results of these two studies as well as insights into various potential projects that we hope will follow, at the Past, Present and Future conference in January.”

Tickets for the conference cost £20 (£10 for students, under 25s and unemployed) and include lunch. and can be bought at www.whatsonwestsuffolk.co.uk/whats-on/event/4548/the-abbey-of-st-edmund-past,-present-and-future

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