“ Abbey Gardens Park And Ruins in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. „
One weekend, a friend and I took advantage of a Groupon deal to have a break in historic Bury St Edmunds, in Suffolk. The town grew around its abbey built in the middle ages and was a popular destination for pilgrims. It was named after the then patron saint of England, St Edmund who had a shrine here, before that dragon-slaying upstart, St George, took his place. When Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in the sixteenth century, the abbey physically dissolved until now only a few ruins are left. If you go to the Abbey Gardens whilst you are here, you can see what remains.
The gardens were botanical in Georgian times but became free public gardens since 1912. They are open daily from 7.30am (9am Sundays) until dusk. They border the cathedral on one side and have a number of entrances, of which the Abbey Gate is the most imposing. Originally Norman, it was part of the wall surrounding the abbey before being destroyed and re-built in the 14th Century. We first entered on Mustow Street and were greeted with beautifully manicured lawns interspersed with the odd abbey ruin. You can amble freely around the ruins and there are a number of plans and markers showing which part of the abbey had formerly stood here, as well as a model of what the Abbey most likely looked like. We were lucky that it was a beautiful day, which also makes wandering through gardens so much more appealing.
We saw a children's playground but we didn't investigate further on the grounds we were probably a tad old. It seemed very popular judging from the shrieks we could hear. I believe there is also crazy golf, tennis, bowling and a kiosk here but we didn't see them, so I assume they are beyond the play area. There is also a small river that runs alongside with some photogenic ducks.
For us the highlight was the central area. This is the part nearest the Abbey Gate and is a beautifully done flower garden. Even though we were here quite late in the year, we were impressed by the vibrancy and range colours that had been used in the flowerbeds. It is apparently planted in a 'Victorian Bedding Style', and the beds are laid out well as a pattern with thousands of beautiful flowers. Apparently the variety and colour scheme used changes each year.
Whilst not the largest park or gardens you will ever visit the gardens are still beautiful and come highly recommended if you are here at the right time of year. It is a very tranquil area and well maintained, located right in the heart of the town.