Unique Things to Do Blog Uniquely The Nutshell Emily Jackaman 1500x390


Unique Experiences You Can Only Do in Bury St Edmunds

Discover why Bury St Edmunds is so unique

This autumn and winter, enjoy all that Bury St Edmunds has to offer with a long weekend or holiday; Visit a brewery, whose history goes back to 1086; watch a show in the last surviving Regency playhouse; stay in a hotel room frequented by Charles Dickens and discover the town's 1000 year past and a unique part of English history.

Greene King Brewery Tour & Tasting

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Greene King Brewery Tour. Photo: Emily Fae

Discover the fascinating story behind the country’s leading pub retailer and brewer, Greene King, at their historic headquarters. Enjoy the only Greene King Brewery tour in the country and let the knowledgeable guides walk you through more than 200 years of rich heritage, and explore some of their oldest buildings whilst taking an exciting look into how they make their award winning beer.

The brewery has a fascinating history going all the way back to 1086, when monks would brew ale on the site of the Great Abbey using water from Bury’s chalk wells which are still used today by Greene King. The historic Westgate brewery since was established in 1799, using local malted barley, and water from the 1,000 year old chalk wells in all of their famous brews.

After climbing the one hundred stairs to the top of the brewery, stop and enjoy the breath-taking views of the town and Suffolk countryside beyond and relax in the unusual Beer Café, whilst sampling some of the finest beers brewed in Bury!

Book a Greene King Brewery Tour at https://shop.greeneking.co.uk/products/walk-talk-tasting-tour

The Nutshell Pub

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The Nutshell. Photo: Emily Fae

Once confirmed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the smallest pub in Britain (it's now been knocked off the top spot but is still number 2!), The Nutshell is a baffling curiosity not to be missed. Measuring just 15 foot by 7 foot, the extra cosy pub is crammed with fascinating details, from currency on the ceiling to a plane propeller on the walls.

This unusual pub is also famed for its haunted history. See if you can spot the ghost of a small boy lurking on the stairs. Visitors claim to suddenly feel a cold breeze or feel the bump of a child passing them. Some details inside are rather macabre, such as the mummified cat hanging over the bar, which patrons claim is cursed. Others suspect the torturing of witches to be behind all the paranormal activity. Whatever the truth, you won’t run out of things to talk about in this intimate and mysterious spot!

The Abbey of St Edmund

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Abbey Ruins in the Abbey Gardens. Photo: Emily Fae

The magnificent Abbey of St Edmund was once one of the most famous and wealthy pilgrimage locations in England, visited by royalty. Edmund, King of East Anglia, was killed by The Danes on 20 November 869, after refusing to give up his Christian faith. He was tied to a tree and shot full of arrows before being beheaded. In 903, the body of Saint Edmund, was moved to the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Beodericsworth (later known as Bury St Edmunds).

Although, St Edmund’s body was moved to London in 1010 for safe keeping when The Danes were again marauding through East Anglia but three years later his body was returned to Beodericsworth. In 1020, King Cnut had a stone church built for Edmund's body and 13 Benedictine monks from St Benet’s Abbey at Hulme in Norfolk and 7 from Ely arrived.

This was the beginning of the Abbey of St Edmund, 1000 years ago, and it became a site of great pilgrimage to St Edmund’s shrine. Today, visitors enter the abbey complex through the impressive Abbey Gate complete with its portcullis. The original gateway, entrance to the great courtyard of the monastery, was destroyed in 1327 during the riots by the local people, who were angry at the power of the monastery. The Abbey Gate you can see today with its west side arrow slits was built in the 14th Century.

This year, a year-long programme of events take place to mark the anniversary; with special tours, exhibitions, talks and a magnificent light spectacular on St Edmunds's Day in November - so there's never been a better time to visit!

Find out more about the anniversary celebrations with our Abbey 1000 Guide.

Moyse's Hall Museum ' Terrible Tales' Exhibition

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Moyse's Hall Museum. Photo: Emily Fae

Moyse’s Hall Museum is unrivalled for gruesome tales for old and young alike! Here you can find the permanent exhibition 'Terrible Tales', which brings to life the horrific and grisly history of Bury St Edmunds.

Specially created for the museum by Horrible Histories legend, and best selling author, Terry Deary, visitors are invited to explore six interactive stories whilst experiencing the smells, weapons and torture devices of the past. The beautiful medieval building sets the tone for this incredible journey into the past. Whilst at the museum, be sure to also tae a look out for a locket containing a lock of hair from Mary Tudor, Queen of France and Duchess of Suffolk, The Edmunds Jewel; an ornate gold jewel though to have been used by Saint Edmund himself and a world class collection of horology and rare timepieces.

Book tickets to Moyse's Hall at https://www.moyseshall.org/

Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds

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Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds. Photo: Emily Fae

Immerse yourself in theatre history at the majestic Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds! As the last remaining Regency playhouse in the country, it’s an evocative place to take in a show. With numerous original features still intact, this gorgeous theatre is a masterpiece of design artistry.

A tour of the theatre is a must for any serious theatre goer with a chance to see backstage and tread the very same boards as Sir Ian McKellan and Dame Judi Dench. With an exciting programme of live performance, you are sure to have a night to remember in this beautiful space.

Check out the What's On and book a tour at https://theatreroyal.org/

Visit the site where the Magna Carta Story Started!

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The Abbey Ruins. Photo: Emily Fae

It is impossible to separate the Magna Carta from Bury St Edmunds, this document paved the way for the modern world. In 1214 a group of Barons met in the Abbey and swore an oath, acting as a catalyst for the creation of this pivotal document. Visit the award-winning Abbey Gardens and the Abbey Ruins and marvel at the two commemorative plaques from the mid nineteenth century which celebrate this important moment at The Charter of Liberties.

Following the 800 year anniversary, the innovative Our Liberty memorial can also be seen in the gardens near the Abbey. Designed by Suffolk artist Nigel Kaines, this sculpture will transport you back to the thirteenth century.

Visit West Stow; the inspiration for JRR Tolkien's Middle Earth!

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West Stow

One of England's great archaeological sites, the stunning recreation of an Anglo-Saxon village at West Stow was also the inspiration for JRR Tolkien's Middle Earth!

Once the site of an Anglo-Saxon village, occupied from AD 420-650, over 400 years before the Norman Conquest, Archaeologists who uncovered the site found evidence for a variety of different structures including countless buildings sunken into the earth, it was these which inspired the 'Hobbit House' of the books, that was home to Bilbo and Frodo Baggins.

The park brings history to life through experiential, immersive learning experiences, and also hosts Lord of the Rings centred events throughout the year. The surrounding Country Park features 125 acres of woods, heathlands, a river and a lake and adventure playground, plus nature trails, including the fascinating Beowulf & Grendel Adventure Trail.

The nearby West Stow Pods, a popular glamping experience, also offers visitors to the area the chance to inhabit their own Hobbit house for the night, at Pod Hollow- a two bedroom, Halfling inspiring subterranean dwelling!

Book tickets to West Stow Anglo Saxon Village at https://www.weststow.org/Anglo-Saxon-Village/

Stay in a room frequented by Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens Room copy

Literary fans will be in their absolute element with a stay at the historic Angel Hotel, for it's here that Charles Dickens created some of the world's best-known fictional characters. He first stayed in 1835 as a journalist for the Morning Chronicle (staying in what was then room 11).

In 1859 and 1861 he returned to The Angel to read to a captive audience at the nearby Athenaeum, staying in what is now room 215, now known as the Charles Dickens Suite. He gave readings from The Pickwick Papers on 13 October 1859 and again on 30 October 1861 when he read from A Personal History of David Copperfield.

Book a stay today and not only can you stay in the Dickens room, you can also pop next door and visit the beautiful Athenaeum!

Click here to find out more about Dickens' love affair with Bury St Edmunds!

Cosy up for a Film in a 1920s cinema

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Abbeygate Cinema. Photo: Emily Fae

In Bury St Edmunds you can find a unique beautifully modernised yet perfectly original 1920's cinema showing everything from timeless classics to box office latest releases.

Opening originally as the Central in 1924 with one auditorium, it was a music hall with films projected onto the screen between the acts back in the days when cinema was more of an information service than for entertainment, showing news reels from around the world. It wasn't until 1936 that full-length films were shown!

There's a strong mix of arthouse, independent and quality mainstream films shown at the Abbeygate Cinema with an enriched Screen Arts programme including Bolshoi, Royal Opera House, National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company and Metropolitan Opera.

Boasting a stylish Box Office area and a spectacular 180 stadium seated Premier Screen with a full-size 4k laser screen and state-of-the art projector, this three-screen cinema is packed full of comfortable reclining seats and cosy sofas and you can also enjoy a glass of wine, beer or soft drink and tasty snacks from the bar whilst watching your film.

Find out more at https://www.abbeygatecinema.co.uk/

Experience International Arts at The Market Cross

Flamenco at The Market Cross

You don't have to travel far to experience something a little different and international in Bury St Edmunds, all within the unique setting of Bury St Edmund's first theatre at The Market Cross.

From flamenco dance to art and from French jazz to Latin dance classes, visitors can experience local and international performing arts and creative workshops on the site of what was an ancient market before becoming the town's first prominent theatre, The Grand Theatre, in the 1700s.

Discover more at https://www.themarketcross.uk/

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