Bury St Edmunds abbey millennium celebrations set to take place in 2020

Members of the Abbey Heritage Partnership. Picture: ST EDMUNDSBURY BOROUGH COUNCIL

Members of the Abbey Heritage Partnership. Picture: ST EDMUNDSBURY BOROUGH COUNCIL - Credit: Archant

A series of millennium celebrations will take place in 2020 to mark 1,000 years since the abbey at Bury St Edmunds was founded.

The abbey, which housed the body of the martyred King Edmund, was established as a Benedictine foundation in 1020 by King Canute.

For hundreds of years pilgrims from throughout the world came to worship at the abbey in veneration of St Edmund, the then patron Saint of England.

The abbey grew in strength and wealth until the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII in the 16th century when it was dismantled and fell into ruin.

The Abbey of St Edmund Heritage Partnership has announced that it is preparing to organise millennium celebrations in 2020.

The partnership is aiming to establish a steering group to include representatives of Bury St Edmunds Town Council, West Suffolk College and local schools as well as several existing partners to start discussing ideas and planning events.

The Reverend Canon Matthew Vernon, from St Edmundsbury Cathedral, chairman of the heritage partnership, said: “One of the main reasons why the partnership has been set up is to help the public’s understanding and enjoyment of the ruins of buildings that once played such a prominent role in everyday life in the town.

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“We want to work with schools and other local groups to organise a series of community based events which will celebrate the 1,000th anniversary of the Abbey of St Edmund.”

Martyn Taylor, a local historian and chairman of the Bury Society is part of the heritage partnership, said: “The foundation of the Benedictine Monastery in 1020 AD, alongside the historical accounts and the legends of King Edmund, are linked to the gathering of the Barons in the Abbey in 1214 when they swore to force King John to sign the Magna Carta.

“These are three pinnacle points not just in the rich heritage of Bury St Edmunds but in the town’s wider importance in English and indeed in international history.”

Last month, the St Edmund Heritage Partnership announced the launch of two studies – a heritage assessment and conservation plan – which will run from now until autumn next year.