St Edmundsbury Cathedral

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St Edmundsbury Cathedral

The Cathedral Church of St James

Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

Status: Cathedral
St Edmundsbury Cathedral Exterior, Suffolk, UK - Diliff.jpg
St Edmundsbury Cathedral
Church of England
Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich
Location: 52°14’38"N, 0°43’0"E
Built 1503–2007
Gothic / Gothic Revival

St Edmundsbury Cathedral stands in the middle of Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk. It is the cathedral for the Church of England's Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, which covers Suffolk, and the seat of the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich.

The cathedral is relatively modern compared with some: most of the work is Tudor, but with alterations and expension in later centuries, in particular the twentieth and twenty-first. It was built on the site of a mediæval monastery, whose ruins can be explored in the cathedral gardens.


A church has stood on the site of the cathedral since at least 1065, when St Denis's Church was built within the precincts of Bury St Edmunds Abbey.[1] In the early 12th century the Abbot, Anselm had wanted to make a pilgrimage along the Way of St James to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. He was unsuccessful and instead rebuilt St Denis's and dedicated the new church to Saint James, which served as the parish church for the north side of Bury St Edmunds.

This church was largely rebuilt, starting in 1503, with more alterations in the 18th and 19th centuries. When the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich was created in 1914, St James Church was made the cathedral. In 1959 Benjamin Britten wrote the Fanfare for St Edmundsbury for a "Pageant of Magna Carta" held in the cathedral grounds.

The choir, looking east towards the communion table

From 1960 onwards, there was renewed building work designed to transform the parish church into a cathedral building, with the rebuilding of the chancel and the creation of transepts and side chapels. The cathedral architect from 1943 to 1988 was Stephen Dykes Bower and he left £2 million for the completion of the cathedral.[2] In the cathedral grounds a new choir school and visitor's centre were built which were opened in 1990. A Gothic revival tower was built between 2000 and 2005.


The font was designed in 1870 by George Gilbert Scott, constructed on a mediæval shaft, with a cover by F. E. Howard of Oxford. The decoration was added in 1960.

In addition to guided tours of the cathedral itself, visitors can view changing exhibits of art in the Edmund Gallery, and an exhibit of historic and religious regalia and artefacts in the Cathedral Treasures display. The painting "The Martyrdom of St Edmund" by Brian Whelan hangs in the Lady Chapel.

Life of the cathedral

The two organ cases, in the north transept and north choir

The Dean of St Edmundsbury chairs the chapter of canons, the ruling body of the cathedral. Before 2000 the post was designated as a provost (which was then the equivalent of a dean at most Church of England cathedrals).


Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about St Edmundsbury Cathedral)