Located at the eastern end of the town centre, these extensive ruins are the remains of a Benedictine monastery that once ruled most of West Suffolk. In AD 903 the Saxon church here acquired the remains of King Edmund, killed by the Danes some 40 years previously. They became the focus for pilgrimage and royal patronage, and the monastery, founded in 1020, grew to become one of the wealthiest in Europe. Most was lost at the Dissolution, but the massive Great Gate, rebuilt in 1327 after destruction in a town riot, is a reminder of its former splendour, and you can trace rubble walls of the once vast abbey church. Two medieval churches survive within the complex – St Edmundsbury Cathedral and St Mary’s Church.
Facilities – at a glance
Assist dogs allowed
- Parking nearby
- Open all year
- Opening Times: Open all year daily, Apr-Oct, Mon-Sat 7.30am-8pm, Sun 9-8; Nov-Feb, Mon-Sat 7.30-4.30, Sun 9-4.30; Mar, Mon-Sat 7.30-6, Sun 9-6 Check website for details
Also in the area
About the area
Suffolk is Constable country, where the county’s crumbling, time-ravaged coastline spreads itself under wide skies to convey a wonderful sense of remoteness and solitude. Highly evocative and atmospheric, this is where rivers wind lazily to the sea and notorious 18th-century smugglers hid from the excise men. John Constable immortalised these expansive flatlands in his paintings in the 18th century, and his artwork raises the region’s profile to this day.
Walking is one of Suffolk’s most popular recreational activities. It may be flat but the county has much to discover on foot – not least the isolated Heritage Coast, which can be accessed via the Suffolk Coast Path. Southwold, with its distinctive, white-walled lighthouse standing sentinel above the town and its colourful beach huts and attractive pier features on many a promotional brochure. Much of Suffolk’s coastal heathland is protected as a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and shelters several rare creatures including the adder, the heath butterfly and the nightjar. In addition to walking, there is a good choice of cycling routes but for something less demanding, visit some of Suffolk’s charming old towns, with streets of handsome, period buildings and picturesque, timber-framed houses.
Places to Stay
Restaurants and Pubs
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