Bury St Edmunds
Bury St Edmunds was named after St Edmund, the Saxon King of East Anglia. In this lovely market town you can visit the ruins of the 12th C. Abbey and the beautiful Abbey Gardens which are overlooked by the cathedral's new Gothic tower.
The new shopping area 'The Arc' offers a wide range of retail outlets, and seasonal events are often held in the main Arc Centre, and The Apex has a great programme of musical entertainment. The town also has the smallest pub in Britain 'The Nutshell'. The famous Greene King Brewery is also based in the town.
To the south of Bury St Edmunds the village of Clare has lovely quaint streets & shops and picturesque timber-framed buildings. Clare Country Park is dominated by the 100ft motte of the former Norman Castle, and the 13thC Priory is nearby.
Nearby Lavenham was a major wool and cloth-making centre and the wealth generated has left a legacy of attractive timber-framed houses in narrow streets and lanes, for example the Swan Hotel and the Guildhall.
Just a few miles away Long Melford is also a former wool town and is now well known for its antique shops and centres. The High Street is wide and tree lined and full of interesting shops. Melford Hall (National Trust) is a turreted brick Tudor mansion with 18th C. and Regency interiors. Kentwell Hall and Gardens is a popular attraction where they also hold annual recreations of Tudor life.
Nearby Sudbury is set on the River Stour and is an ancient market town surrounded by water meadows. Sudbury has thrived on the textile industry with wool & silk, and in the market Place stands the statue of the famous artist Thomas Gainsborough who was born in Sudbury in 1727.
To the West of the county Newmarket is the home of Horse racing and has been associated with horses and royalty since Queen Boadicea's day. There are two racecourses, training yards, a horse hospital and gallops and Newmarket hosts many race events during the year. The National Horseracing Museum offers tours, galleries and exhibitions.
To the north of Bury St Edmunds there are lovely forest walks, in Highlodge Country Park near Thetford and Brandon Country Park.
Photo of the Abbey Gardens courtesy of St Edmundsbury Borough Council.