Your Majesty should holiday in Bury St Edmunds at least once in your lifetime because there is so much history here that is connected to your ancestry.
I remember your dear, late sister coming to inspect the troops in the fifties. I was in the brownies when the then Princess Royal planted a tree in the Abbey Gardens. It was also agreed that King John should sign the Magna Carta in the Abbey Ruins.
Just in front of the Athenaeum where your majesty will lunch today, I stood with hundreds of other school children on Coronation day and sang. I particularly recall Non-Nobis Dominee which you might remember, ma’am was sung at the ceremony.
The Witchfinder General
As you go in the Athenaeum, where I have enjoyed many happy nights dancing, to the right stands The Angel Hotel where many great people have stayed including Christopher Lee and Patrick Whymark when they were making Witchfinder General in which my husband, John, was an extra along with many other townsfolk and not forgetting Charles Dickens.
Under your feet ma’am, there is said to be a network of tunnels connecting the Abbey ruins to the town which the monks would use to make a quick getaway when threatened.
Just round the corner are two lovely churches, St James Cathedral a grand church with many unique features and further along St Mary’s of which I am very fond as John and I married there in 1959.
The Norman Tower
Between these stands a Norman Tower, one of the oldest in the country. In our town, there are many grand buildings and museums well worth a visit and twice-weekly a market where locals meet and enjoy a gossip and buy a varied selection of local goods and crafts. The smallest pub in England, The Nutshell, can also be seen next door to the Corn Exchange with its facade of steps and columns.
A little on the macabre side, the remains of the gaol where many villains were kept before being hung on the gallows in Station Hill.
Further out of town there is Ickworth House, set in its own park, now run by the National Trust but originally a home of the Marquis of Bristol. Tragically the most recent Marquis died a few years ago, a victim of drug abuse after spending most of the family fortune.
Around the town are many pubs, mostly owned by local brewery of Greene King which stands in Westgate Street opposite the exquisite Theatre Royal which used to be used as a storeroom for the brewery but has now been fully restored and I’m sure you would enjoy one of the many plays put on there each week.
If you got bored with all this, you could spend an afternoon a few miles away at a past time I know you enjoy, the races at Newmarket or in the other direction, a short break at Centre Parks, which recently has been the victim of fire but is now being built again and modernised, having £35 million spent on it.
I do hope you take advantage of all this, ma’am and enjoy a stay in our beloved town.