The medieval ruins of the Abbey of St Edmund date to the 11th and 12th centuries. Constructed of flint rubble, the houses inserted into the west front during the 18th century lay derelict requiring a major intervention to make them habitable once again.
Designated as a Building at Risk, English Heritage and St Edmundsbury Borough Council deliberated to sensitively achieve the conservation and conversion of the structure into five new high-quality dwellings.
Retaining as much of the fabric as possible, the building is once again fully inhabited.
Rear of west front
New rear extensions were built into the remaining fabric of the Abbey structure (above)
Located off Crown Street is the Norman Tower of the former Abbey of St Edmund. Built between 1120 and 1148 under Abbot Anselm, the Tower is constructed of Barnack stone and consists of four stages.
The Romanesque tower features tall blank arches with colonnettes dividing the window openings.
The tower was restored by the British architect Lewis Nockalls Cottingham between 1846-1847.
The interior timber roof beams
The Norman Tower is Grade I Listed and a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
Located on Guildhall Street is the 13th century Guildhall. Once considered to be the civic centre, the Guildhall became the focus of disputes between the town folk and the Abbey who ruled the town during the Middle Ages. The oldest part of the building is the stone entrance arch. Constructed of brick, stone and flint, the entrance is flanked by octagonal stone turrets.
The carved stone Borough of St Edmundsbury coat of arms above the doorway depicting a wolf below which are three crowns with arrows.
The upper storey of the entrance porch features alternate bands of red brick and knapped flint with chequered stone and flint on the castellated parapet. The Guildhall is Grade I listed and the porch is a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
The great gate of the Abbey of St Edmund was rebuilt between 1327 – 1353. Constructed of Barnack stone, the gate is richly decorated with a segmental entrance arch. The west facade (above) features many niches which once would have contained statues. The battlemented exterior is of two storeys and details six pointed stars in the circular stone niches.
The gate consists of two chambers with 17th century timber gates which separate them. The great gate is Grade I Listed and a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
Crossing the river Lark on the north west corner of the Abbey Precincts is the Abbot’s Bridge. Dating to the late 12th century, the monastic bridge is constructed from stone and rubble flint. The bridge features two flying buttresses and segmental arches which originally carried a portcullis.
Linking the Abbey’s vineyards with the precincts, the bridge is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and is Grade I listed.