Bury St Edmunds

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The Abbeygate, a local symbol of the town.

Bury St Edmunds is a town in the county of Suffolk, England. It is the main town in the borough of St Edmundsbury and is probably most famous for the ruined abbey which stands near the town centre. The abbey is a shrine to Saint Edmund, the Saxon King of the East Angles, who was killed by the Danes in 869 AD. The town initially grew around Bury St. Edmunds Abbey, a site of pilgrimage, and developed into a flourishing clothmaking town by the 14th century.

The abbey was largely destroyed during the 16th century with the dissolution of the monasteries but Bury remained a prosperous town throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. As would be expected of a town in such a rural area, Bury fell into relative decline with the onset of the industrial revolution and accordingly remains an attractive market town.

Next to the abbey is the cathedral, created only relatively recently in 1913. It was extended with a new eastern end in the 1960s, and a new Gothic revival cathedral tower was finished in 2005. The opening celebration for the new tower will take place in the summer of 2005. This makes St Edmundsbury the only recently completed cathedral in the UK; only a handful of Gothic revival cathedrals are still being built worldwide. The tower is being constructed using original fabrication techniques. Six highly skilled masons cut and place every stone individually.

For a later important service at the new cathedral in the 1960s Benjamin Britten wrote his Fanfare for St Edmundsbury, a work for three trumpets which is now well-known.

The abbey gardens had an Internet bench installed in the late 1990s, which allowed anyone to plug in a portable computing device and connect to the Internet. It was the first bench of its kind, though within the first week of it being there, two teenagers discovered a flaw: that one could also make free telephone calls from the bench. They contacted Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, in person to tell him about this problem.

The town has a small Theatre Royal which is a vital part of the town's cultural identity. Every May, Bury St Edmunds holds its annual festival including concerts, plays, dance and culminating in fireworks.

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The Nutshell pub

Britain's smallest public house, The Nutshell, is just off the town marketplace.

The Greene King brewery is to be found in Bury. Greene King produce the fine and universally-acclaimed IPA India pale ale. Originally brewed for expatriates in India, legend has is that a boat transporting it spilled its load on the Suffolk coast line. The locals found it so delicious that they demanded it be made available at home. A strange blend between lager and bitter, any true Suffolk lad loves it. Greene King also brews the slightly stronger Abbot Ale for those with a taste for someting stronger.

Bury St Edmunds boasts Britain's first internally illuminated street sign, the pillar of salt. When built, it had to be granted special permission because it did not conform to regulations.

The rock bands Miss Black America and The Dawn Parade are from Bury.

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