Skip to main content

Bury-St.-Edmunds, Abbey of


Former Benedictine monastery in the town of Bury-St.-Edmunds, Suffolk, England, Diocese of Norwich. Founded by King canute (1020) at the shrine of King St. edmund the martyr, the abbey was England's chief center of pilgrimage until Thomas becket's murder (1170). Colonized from ely and richly endowed with lands and churches, Bury ranked among England's wealthiest and most influential monasteries throughout its existence. Bishops of Norwich failed to gain control of it, and its exemption was confirmed (c. 1100). Its great abbots included Baldwin (106598), physician and builder; Anselm (112148), anselm of canterbury's nephew; samson (11821211), the subject of jocelin of brakelond's chronicle; and Samson's successor. Hugh II of Northwold, who played an important part at the Fourth lateran council (1215) and became bishop of Ely (122954). Since the town of Bury was a monastic borough, the abbey was continuously involved in town affairs; and since it held by the king a service of 40 knights, the abbey often quarreled with both king and tenants. Dependencies included thetford priory (dissolved 1160) and six hospitals in Bury. Important persons were buried at the abbey; kings paid visits and sent abbots on missions; the abbot sat in Parliament, which sometimes convened there. The number of monks rose from 20 (1020) to 80 (c. 1260). Bury's library had about 2,000 books, including such rarities as Caesar's Commentaries and Plautus. The Bury Bible at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and the Life of St. Edmund in Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, are outstanding productions of its scriptorium. Bury monks wrote annals and hagiography and started a school of monastic history (14th century); they numbered among their authors John Lydgate, the poet (1370?1451?). Bury sent monks to Oxford, fostered the cult of Mary in England, and was a center of musical life. When henry viii dissolved the abbey in 1539, there were 43 monks in the community and little sign of decay. Substantial building had taken place in the 15th century, but today little remains at the abbey site, which is designated an ancient monument.

Bibliography: Memorials of St. Edmund's Abbey, ed. t. arnold, 3 v. (Rerum Britannicarum medii aevi scriptores 96; 189096), including Jocelin of Brakelond's chronicle. w. dugdale, Monasticon Anglicanum 3:98176. m. r. james, On the Abbey of St. Edmund at Bury: I. The Library. II. The Church (Cambridge, Eng. 1895). r. graham, English Ecclesiastical Studies (New York 1929) 146187, 271301. d. knowles, The Monastic Order in England. d. knowles, The Religious Orders in England. d. knowles and r. n. hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales 61, 250.

[r. w. hays]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Bury-St.-Edmunds, Abbey of." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . 23 Feb. 2019 <>.

"Bury-St.-Edmunds, Abbey of." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . (February 23, 2019).

"Bury-St.-Edmunds, Abbey of." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Retrieved February 23, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.