Bury St Edmunds Christmas Lights

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December, 2016

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By no means as spectactular as Norwich, but then it is a fraction of the size. Nonetheless some wag had tied what looked like a Norwich City scarf (in fact in Bury Rugby Club colours) around the neck of St Edmund’s wolf on the way into town.

Driving meant no photo of the wolf but after dark we thought we’d look for the pied wagtails the Norfolk naturalist Mark Cocker had seen a few years ago. It had been a few days earlier than our visit, although the trees were illuminated and the Christmas Market had just closed. With no market we had hopes of a sighting. The tree was there outside the Nutshell pub, claiming to be the smallest in England. No wagtails though.

The lights hung in large globes from the branches, contrasting with others lining the roofs of buildings around the Market Place. Only the Cupola, reconstructed after the disastrous fire of a few years ago, was unlit. It will become a restaurant, and there are notices invited potential staff to apply, but all it can do for now is reflect the lights of Harriet’s Tearooms opposite.

The twelfth-century Moyse’s Hall was also unlit. Why does it need lights? Superdrug next door and the adjacent Starbucks offer all the glitz to compare unfavourably with its elegance.

There are few shops around the market that are not part of an historic building, all on sites once occupied by medieval traders, with the exchange building still in use, sometimes appropriately as banks, otherwise tea rooms, bars and franchises. All had their rooflines picked out in elegant blue lights. A recently opened jeweller’s shop had a stunning silver window display.

Our car was near the cathedral gardens so the way back took us past the Christmas tree standing boldly against the Abbey Gatehouse tower. A restrained Nativity in three dimensions is displayed nearby, across the road from The Angle, where Dickens and the deposed Louis Napoleon had once stayed.

There may be much more to see in daylight, walking around Bury. We do that often enough. At Christmas, though, not only the lights, but a film presentation of the Bolshoi’s spectacular “Nutcracker” – unfortunately not amenable to photography although inside the Moscow theatre flash photos and selfies seemed almost more interesting to the audience than the dancing.


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