BSE or Bury
As Bury St Edmunds is quite a long name, it is shortened to either Bury or BSE. When speaking Bury is usually used and when writing BSE.
When Great Britain suffered with the 'mad cow disease' - Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), this did cause confusion as we'd always used BSE as a shorthand for our home town, not for some horrid bovine illness!
Using Bury can also prove problematic as there is a town called Bury in Lancashire (in the North West of England). So if you are talking to someone in England about 'Bury', check which one they mean!
Things to see in the abbey gardens II
Between St. Mary's and the cathedral, you will find four private houses which were built into the abbey ruins. They were built into what were once the entrances for the abbey church. The famous bronze door which was once stolen from townsfolk and hidden in the guild hall was from one of these entrances. Given the size of these entrances, you could imagine the size of that church. Its tower had three and a half times the size of the nearby Norman tower (visit the cathedral for an artists's impression of the abbey church in comparison with today's cathedral). People may ask themselves who would buy such a house and why Victorians did use the ruins for building houses. Well, Victorians were eccentric and today's people are too. One of the houses was sold recently for over a million pounds. And if it wouldn't have been for the architects who had that idea, those ruins may have been decayed or pulled down like most of the rest. By the way, remains of the former abbey can be seen throughout the town. Have a look at different walls and houses in the town centre and you will find some odd-looking limestones.
The pillar of Salt
This thing looking like a model lighthouse is a real traffic sign. It needed a special permission when it was installed in 1935 as the letters deviated from the norm. It's unique – although I am not yet sure, if I like this thing or not. It looks strange on the former market place (now just a glorified car park), in front of a Gothic gatehouse. In 1998, it became grade II listed and is believed to be the UK's first internally illuminated traffic sign.
Bury St Edmunds
It is supposed to be the hub of East Anglia, a market town.
This needs to be explained, if you know anything about the Fens at all. The surrounding landscape is very flat and fertile, good farming country and before being drained was know as wetlands. Good for hunting ducks and gathering reeds to roof the houses, you know, those chocolate box type pictures of the cute little reed thatched cottage with the roof full of mice and spiders, the doors so small you need to be a midget with a widget to get through them and the tiny windows that let in about as much light as an anaemic glow worm.
People lived and farmed in splendid isolation, the small villages had not yet grown up when Bury St Edmunds was invented. So, to sell their produce and assure themselves that they were not the only person on the planet in deep dark East Anglia, every Wednesday they all went to market in BSE. I wonder if this is where they got the initials for the Mad Cow Disease?
Anyway. So, all and sundry came to the Market Town to see, be seen, trade, shop, get essentials and meet a prospective partner. It was all go.
When I last visted, it was market day and you could only find parking behind Woolworths in a VAST car park. You can imagine that this was the traditional place for all the carts and horses to wait while business was being transacted.
Beware the horrendous one way system that is now in place in BSE. It is poorly signposted, lots of ways to get lost and end up heading out of town. Not as bad as Norwich though. THAT town is really car unfriendly.
You can imagine footpads and viillains lurking down this lane to trap the unwary back in olden times.... I assume that was a gas lamp at some point, there on the wall... pretty spooky eh?
The small houses, the posh one opposite and the cobbled, rain dampened street all added to the charm of the place.
Note the gutter running down the centre of the street. People threw their rubbish and poo and stuff into the street and it ran down the middle and got (hopefully) washed away by the rain.
Thank heavens for flushing bogs eh?