Year of celebrations to mark abbey's 1000th anniversary
PUBLISHED: 18:51 12 November 2019 | UPDATED: 18:51 12 November 2019
A year-long programme of celebrations marking the 1,000th anniversary of the founding of the abbey in Bury St Edmunds has been unveiled.
Music and community projects are among some of the events planned from this month up to the weekend of St Edmund's Day on 20 November 2020.
The programme has been devised by the Abbey 1000 group with the Abbey of St Edmund Heritage Partnership.
The Abbey 1000 group is made up of a number of organisations in the town including St Edmundsbury Cathedral, West Suffolk Council, Bury St Edmunds Town Council and the Our Bury St Edmunds Business Improvement District.
The programme was launched at St Edmundsbury Cathedral on Tuesday November 12.
Chairman Andrew Speed said: "2020 will be a year of celebrations - cultural, musical, religious and civic functions will highlight the 1,000 years of the Abbey's foundation.
"The Abbey 1000 Group aims to offer a broad range of events from musical concerts to religious pageants culminating in a spectacular light show on St Edmund's Day Weekend."
St Edmund was the first patron saint of England and king of East Anglia. Killed by the Danes in 869, a great abbey was built to house his remains. It was one of the finest in England until the Dissolution under Henry VIII left it in ruins.
A key event will be the gathering on May 23 and 24 of 100 Benedictine monks and nuns, plus 400 others from communities across Britain for the first time in 500 years since the dissolution of the monasteries. They will be joined by former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.
Composer John Rutter will be writing a special Millennium anthem, and the 73rd Aldeburgh Festival will open at St Edmundsbury Cathedral on June 12.
Community projects will include a mosaic at the arc shopping centre with contributions from the public.
Businesses, schools and community groups are being challenged to stage their own events to raise '£1,000 for 1000', with proceeds being donated to the anniversary year's charities of St Nicholas Hospice Care, St Elizabeth Hospice and EACH (East Anglian Children's Hospices).
For more details go to the Abbey 1000 website.