Abbey of St Edmund is 1000

By | Category: Travel destinations

Celebrating a thousand years is not something that occurs regularly largely because written evidence of what happened a thousand years ago is thin on the ground.

To know a date, prepare celebrations and then to lose some of those events to an thankless COVID-19 must make the organisers of the founding of the Abbey of St Edmund by King Canute 1000 years ago pretty despondent.

But what can they do?

A year of celebration had been planned but event after event has had to be cancelled or moved forward into the year in the hope that it might still happen.

It must be even more annoying since Canute is one of the few pre William the Conqueror kings that nearly everybody has heard of.

He founded the abbey in memory of the first patron saint of England and king of East Anglia, Saint Edmund. It was only in 1348 that Edward III replaced St Edmund with St George as England’s patron saint.

Twice in this century which is just twenty years old there have been campaigns and restore St Edmund as the patron saint of England based on the fact that he was an Englishman and that St George wasn’t and probably never even visited England!

St Edmund gave his name to the town as well as the abbey and, each year on November 20th – St Edmund’s feast day – there are events staged in his memory in the town. His body is no longer in the abbey having disappeared before the dissolution of the monasteries. Where is Time Team now that you want them?

Come November 20th and the celebrations should be able to go ahead because surely COVID-19 can’t still be stopping us getting out and about?

But, as I mentioned earlier, many events have had to be moved. Usually about 1.3 million people a year visit the abbey but not this year.

Tomorrow and Sunday would have been one of the highlights.

There was to have been a procession of 100 Benedictine monks and nuns, plus 400 others, from communities across Britain. They would have been joined by Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury. Other special events include a pilgrimage from St Benet’s Abbey in Norfolk and Ely in Cambridgeshire and an exhibition of seven manuscripts from the Abbey Scriptorium, being reunited in their place of origin for the first time since 1539.

For more information on the anniversary and celebrations visit and for more information about where to stay and things to see and do in Bury St Edmunds and the surrounding area visit

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