Thursday, March 18, 2010

September 4, 2009 - Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

After a wild, wet and windy reception to England's shores we cowered in the Parkston RV Park near Harwich until the storm passed. The following day, although brighter, was cold and blustery but then, this is England! Harwich is on the east coast of England in a region known as East Anglia. The last ten years of our time in England was spent in East Anglia near the city of Bury St Edmunds in the county of Suffolk and this was to be our first wallow in nostalgia. We actually lived in the tiny hamlet of East Barton, population 20 or so, which was a mile or so south of Great Barton, population 2000, and east of Bury St Edmunds proper by four or five miles. We stopped by and looked at the old homestead on our way along memory lane. Way back in 633 CE, Sigebert, the king of the East Angles founded a monastery where Bury St Edmunds stands today. In 869 CE, the then king of the East Angles, a fellow named Edmund, was killed by the Danes during one of their forays into England. Thirty plus years later, in 903, King Edmund's remains were brought to the monastery for internment. By 925 CE, Edmund had been promoted to a Saint and a Martyr becoming quite well known and elevating the monastery to a pilgrim destination. The town of St Edmund's Bury developed in the midst of all this hype and later came to be known as Bury St Edmunds or locally, simply as Bury.
Fanciful folklore has it that the name came from
the fact that St Edmunds was buried here but, more probably, the Bury in St Edmund's Bury was a variation of borough, bergh, burg or borg. Be that as it may, the phrase "I'm going to Bury St Edmunds" would often be rejoined by "Oh, I didn't even know he was dead!" 
In 1020, after destroying the monastery and throwing the priests out, another Dane, Sweyn Forkbeard built a Benedictine abbey on the site, the ruins of which are a major claim to fame for Bury. The town is also known for the largest British owned brewery, Greene King, which also owns the Theatre Royal built in 1819, the sole surviving Regency theater in England. The largest building in the area is the British Sugar beet processing factory, built in 1925 northeast of the town. Bury mounts a large street market each Wednesday and Saturday. Other scintillating gems: Bury is home to England's oldest Boy Scout group, the 1st Bury St Edmunds. On May 3rd, 2007, the Bury town council election was won by the "Abolish Bury Town Council" party. Before it could abolish itself, the party lost its majority in a by-election the following month and, thus far, the Town Council still rules. See slide show here Part I and Part II.

No comments: