Bury St Edmunds is all out history.
Our approach was just wander. See what you find and explore.
First we found Moyse’s Hall Museum. A distinct building that has sat on the market place for almost 900 years. This Tudor building has served as a workhouse and a police station, but now delights us a museum. Moyse’s offers an in-depth and fascinating look into Bury St Edmunds history including insights into the creation and dissolution of the abbey, witchcraft, murder, and other crime.
Outside of the museum we were lucky enough to have arrived on a big market day. Stalls of food from all over the world lined one street whilst everything else you’d expect from a market town scattered the rest.
We then found the most magical vintage shop just off the street that goes down to the Abbey entrance, Bohemia.
Bohemia is like Vintage shops used to be, full of incredible old clothing at fair prices. I found a super heavy, black real-leather jacket with tassels for sale at just £75, and a pair of old but mint condition cherry red Dr Martens for £60. The place was full of incredible finds.
Up the road towards town you have the most fancy Greggs you will ever have seen. The logo isn’t even in blue and yellow, it’s brown to fit in with the traditional exterior of the old building.
As the main road meets the more towny part of the centre there’s a tiny pub on the corner, The Nutshell. It’s just 15ft by 7ft and it’s the smallest pub in Britain and it really is tiny.
We were lucky enough to come out of another bar when a group of people were leaving so we jumped in. It was first opened in 1867 and it’s steeped with history inside, including the mummified cat hanging above the bar for good luck. In that area, they used to stuff dead cats into the walls to ward off evil spirits. Sounds odd, is odd, but if you’re lucky enough to get inside, please do.
Speaking of booze, Bury St Edmunds is the home to Greene King Brewery, where you can do a brewery tour ending in sampling many of the beers. That was the most fun part of it really, brewery tours are interesting, but when you’ve done one you’ve done them all.
The tour guide was a great guy, very knowledgeable, but maybe this is more for beer aficionados than someone like me who was just dying to skip to the end for the tasting.
Very interestingly though the brewery was founded in 1799, which is absolutely ridiculously long time ago, so the tour did give you a sense of how important it has been to the town over the recent centuries.
I’m glad we did it, I think filling your weekend with local historical stuff really is the best way to make a memorable trip, and the tasting was genuinely a lot of fun.
Down the road from Greene King is the highlight of any Bury St Edmunds trip. A tour of the Abbey Gardens and grounds. Maybe do the brewery tour after this, rather than the other way round.
Our tour guide John, from Bury St Edmunds Tour Guides, was hilarious. Not in the annoying kind of a way, but in a lovely grandad sort of a way.
His knowledge of the town and it’s history felt unapparelled and he was able to answer any questions we had there and then.
There’s actually loads to see on the tour and John helps you envisage the past in his descriptions and story-telling. The history of the town came to life much in the same way as it does when watching a TV documentary thanks to John.
The highlight of the tour was learning about our hotel, the ivy-encrusted jewel opposite the Abbey ruins, The Angel Hotel.
Thanks to Johns articulate descriptions, we were able to imagine the good old toffs of 19th century London ordering their horse and cart drivers to ‘head to the Angel’ for a few days getaway.
One of Bury St Edmunds oldest and most beloved buildings, The Angel Hotel, impresses on so many levels.
As an old coaching in not only does it ooze the glamour of history, but it glows with the 21st century luxury that you’d expect.
Thanks to owners Claire and Robert Gough’s decades of redecorating, the fruitful bounty of their hard work is as sweet as they come.
Rooms are meticulously detailed, themed very delicately, and as cosy as your ideal home.
In other areas of the hotel, style was firmly at the top of their mind. With inviting marshmallow-soft sofas and chairs in the lounge surrounded by board games, vintage tchotchkes, pop art adorning the walls, and afternoon teas covering the tables.
There’s actually a fairly secret room downstairs in the vaults too, a great space for hosting private parties with that prohibition feel.
Dinner at the hotel is a must-do whilst you’re here. The food is exquisite. As well as being a delicious menu, the portions are not to moan about. Fear not, you will not be left unsatisfied.
As for breakfast, order it to bed. You don’t need to be anywhere in a hurry on your break.
Order breakfast in bed and order it all. The breakfasts here are talked about all over town, no lie. We ate at a cute Japanese restaurant in town that weekend and the host used to work at The Angel and asked ‘have you had the breakfast?’ before feigning a crush swoon.
We agreed, and all swooned together that breakfast is banging.
Bury St Edmunds is a great town. Built up in a grid system over a thousand years it’s easy to get around and is layered with century after century of architecture and details.
Stay at The Angel, or don’t stay at all. A couple on the tour with us were staying at The Premier in and as we were driving out of town we realised where that was. No, stay at The Angel Hotel to fully immerse yourself in the experience.
Take yourself out of your busy days drowning in screens and ‘meeting reminder’s, and drop yourself into this wonderful, friendly, bubbling town of Bury St Edmunds for a wholesome weekend of nerdy English history and mouth-watering food.
Tour: The best way to discover more about the history of St Edmunds and the Abbey is to book a tour with the town guides priced from £7.50 per person for 90 minutes, www.burystedmundstourguides.org.
Hotel: To book visit www.theangel.co.uk or call 01284 714000. B&B from around £139 for two sharing.
Pub: The Nutshell does not take table bookings. Hilariously as we were in there somebody called to book. There is one table inside in winter, and you can't book it.
Brewery Tour: Book a tour for £18 each. Worth it for the tasting fun and the drink you get at the end. Book here.