Fury at vision for jewel in town's crown

By Dave GooderhamTHE world-famous Abbey Gardens has always been regarded as a jewel in the Bury St Edmunds crown. Whether as an integral part of the town's illustrious award-winning floral tributes or a place to relax with friends and family, the gardens annually attract hundreds of thousands of visitors.

By Dave Gooderham

THE world-famous Abbey Gardens have always been regarded as a jewel in the Bury St Edmunds crown.

Whether as an integral part of the town's illustrious award-winning floral tributes or a place to relax with friends and family, the gardens annually attract hundreds of thousands of visitors.

But an English Heritage inspector has created a storm in the town after claiming some of the most popular parts of the park should be knocked down or moved as they were not in keeping with the historic Abbey Ruins.


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Community leaders said the vision of John Ette, English Heritage's inspector of ancient monuments, would see the Abbey Ruins no longer surrounded by a children's playground, tennis courts and some of the trees that have helped make the attraction famous.

His comments, made during a tour of the gardens to town mayor Frank Warby and deputy mayor Mike Ames, has caused a stir among the community leaders.

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Mr Warby said: “The man from the English Heritage said if he had his way, the playground would be moved to the other side of the river, there would be no need to maintain the tennis courts and some trees would be cut down.

“We get half a million visitors to the Abbey Gardens and I think if we just had the ruins, it would just be another churchyard and it would disappoint a lot of families and children.

“History is one thing, but a pile of rubble does not attract visitors. The ruins are a very important part of it, but all the floral displays around them keep people coming back.”

Mr Ette's comments were particularly disappointing for Mr Ames, who is a stalwart of the Bury in Bloom competitions, which have used the gardens as a focal point.

“We are very proud of the Abbey Gardens and in the last 20 years it has gained Bury international, worldwide and national awards on more than one occasion,” said Mr Ames.

“The origins of the town came from the Abbey, but the main thing putting Bury on the map in a contemporary context is the Abbey Gardens.

“There have been riots in the town's history before - and if these changes were made, there would be more riots.

“To take something away that not only people in the town enjoy, but also brings pleasure to everyone who visits the town, absolutely flies in the face of common sense.”

Mr Ette said he felt councillors had got the wrong impression from the meeting, held to see if a bandstand could be put up on the land.

“Any discussions about what could happen on the site were in the very long term. Our role is really a steering one and we do not give orders as to what should happen,” he added.

dave.gooderham@eadt.co.uk

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