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Could Saint Edmund’s remains lie in St Mary’s Church?

St Mary's Church, Bury St Edmunds

St Mary's Church, Bury St Edmunds

Archant

The mystery of where the remains of Saint Edmund are buried has taken another twist after an alternative theory was put forward by a respected clergyman.

The statue of St Edmund in front of the Abbey West Front in Bury St Edmunds

. Picture: ANDY ABBOTTThe statue of St Edmund in front of the Abbey West Front in Bury St Edmunds . Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

Canon Cedric Catton, a member of St Edmundsbury Cathedral since 1999, says he has his own theory of where the Saxon King and town namesake could be located.

It has long been speculated that Saint Edmund could be buried in the town’s historic Abbey Gardens, possibly under the tennis courts.

Excitement has been building since the announcement at the start of the month that St Edmundsbury Borough Council, as part of the Abbey of St Edmund Heritage Partnership, has been granted consent by Historic England to move the courts to a different location in the gardens.

The tennis courts in the Abbey Gardens, Bury St Edmunds

PICTURE ANDY ABBOTTThe tennis courts in the Abbey Gardens, Bury St Edmunds PICTURE ANDY ABBOTT

This could lead to an archaelogical dig at the site of the old courts – which sit on top of a former monks’ graveyard.

But Canon Catton, who is still involved with the cathedral since retirement, believes Saint Edmund’s remains could lie under nearby St Mary’s Church, on the corner of Honey Hill.

He said: “When Henry VIII started his plans to dissolve the abbey, the abbot and the monks put in hand a plan to preserve Edmund.

The tennis courts in the Abbey Gardens, Bury St Edmunds  , where some believe St Edmund could be buried. Picture: ANDY ABBOTTThe tennis courts in the Abbey Gardens, Bury St Edmunds , where some believe St Edmund could be buried. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

“The abbot was given permission to live in a house in Bury and selected a house opposite St Mary’s.

“It was obvious that Henry was not going to destroy or allow St. Mary’s Church to be destroyed, because Mary Tudor was buried there.

“So, somewhere under St. Mary’s would be the safest place for Edmund. My theory is that Edmund, in his metal box, is likely to have been buried under the Tudor grave, or close by.

“The abbot chose that house to live in, so that he could keep a close eye on Edmund’s grave.”

Mary Tudor was the third wife of Louis XII of France, more than 30 years her senior, and briefly Queen of France.

Following his death, she married Charles Brandon, first Duke of Suffolk, in secret and without the consent of her brother, Henry VIII.

She died in June 1533 and was buried in the abbey a month later. Five years later, when the monastery was dissolved, Mary’s body was removed to the nearby church.

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