Charming Lavenham and a wonderful surprise in delightful Bury St Edmunds

We moved on from Cambridge in the rain.  And it didn’t stop for over 20 hours!  However the site that we’d found, Kings Forest Caravan Site, was perfect for us.   The owners say just pitch up and they’ll come to find you – they’re very laid back, we saw them after a couple of days 🙂

Lee is very engaging and his wife said she was thinking of coming to see if we needed rescuing!

When the rain stopped the following day we made our way to visit Lavenham, one of  many mediaeval villages in this area.  They retain their charm due to the fact that with diminishing fortunes from their heyday as important wool merchant towns, they lacked the funds to upgrade housing stock etc, and were therefore left behind as other towns developed.  What a legacy they have left!  Lavenham alone has 204 listed buildings…  Here’s a small selection 🙂

One of the principal buildings is the Guildhall which is now in the care of the National Trust.  It’s a very interesting visit detailing the different uses of the hall (guildhall, workhouse, prison – or ‘bridewell’) through history, although, unfortunately, the cellar was closed on the day we went due to flooding.  The attached tea-room was also very nice 🙂

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Another building that you can visit is Little Hall, a much changed family home which was originally 5 cottages.  It has 4 staircases, 1 of them hidden behind a panel – I watched so many people walk through the room without even trying to open the cupboards, and therefore missing the hidden staircase!  This building also has a rich history which is detailed on information paddles in each room.

The village has a very large church considering its size.

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On Thursday morning we went over to the West Stow Anglo Saxon Village (opposite our site) to walk around the country park (along the river and around the lake).  It’s £6 each to visit the village itself and we didn’t feel the need (especially as there were 2 coachloads of young children there at the time!)

In the afternoon we headed into Bury.  We headed along Northgate and parked in the long stay carpark in Ramsgate (it’s fairly cheap in here, but be careful – the gate is locked at 10.30pm).

We first went to Prezzo to sort out a booking to use our BuyAGift voucher – they were really helpful and the booking was made for 5.30pm.  This meant we had a good couple of hours to explore.

Bury St Edmunds isn’t very big and we started along Angel Hill spotting the Abbey Gate – notice from the photo that there are many niches for statues which are no longer there.  I haven’t been able to find any information regarding this, but have noticed it elsewhere since.

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We walked through this gate into the abbey gardens and spotted that houses had been built within the ruins.  They were actually built between the 16th & 18th centuries, although they look like they could be newer.  We were very impressed as we’ve never seen anything like this.

The cathedral, St Edmundsbury, and another large church, St Marys, are within a couple of hundred metres of each other and had competing claims to become the cathedral.  St Marys lost out as Mary Tudor, a one time Queen of France, is buried there.

Some say that the cathedral is plain, but I really liked it.  It’s had many renovations (and is currently undergoing some window work meaning that there is scaffolding in the centre), and also an enlargement in the 1970s, and it is a mix of old and new.  It’s definitely worth a visit.  It’s also free to enter…

Before heading back to Prezzo for our dinner we wandered along Abbeygate Street, finding the old Corn Exchange, a rather impressive building now housing a Weatherspoons upstairs and various retail stores downstairs.  It would have been rude not to pop in for a glass of prosecco!

After dinner it was back to the Theatre Royal (we’d already been to pick up our tickets). Opposite the theatre is the home of Greene King brewery where there were obviously a couple of tours taking place.

20170629_160424The theatre itself is utterly charming.  And tiny.  We were in a short row of 5 seats at the back of the stalls – in row L…  Immediately behind us was the dress circle, which consisted of a number of individual ‘boxes’.  These had a 3 rows of 2 seats which turned into 3 seats as there was a sideways fold-down seat on one of the side seats!

 

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Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds – it really is tiny 🙂

The production, by Creative Cow, of ‘Our Man in Havana’, with it’s cast of 4, was really very, very good.  Hats off to all involved 🙂

We were sat next to an extremely well-informed lady who told us that she moved to Bury in 1945.  We learned that many believe St Edmund should actually be England’s patron saint, and also that Bury St Edmunds itself was indeed renamed after his death nearby at the hands of the Danes.  He is believed to be buried there, but no-one is quite sure where – although they think he might be under a tennis court!  Look out for King Richard style news headlines…..  She also told us that the original name of the town was Beodericsworth (and no, I didn’t remember this – I had to look it up!)

We made it back to the car park just before 10.30 – but to be honest could see no sign that it was about to be locked!

 

 

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Author: MandoraTheExplorer

I'm a middle aged accounting tutor looking for my own mild adventures with my other half before it's too late..... I've taken the plunge and organised a year long sabbatical (a year with no pay!!), sold the house and my car and am ready to go :)