Guildhall – Bury St Edmunds

254 Reviews

Star Travel Rating

4/5

Review type

Things to do

Location

Date of travel

July, 2019

Product name

Product country

Product city

Travelled with

Wife

Reasons for trip

Wednesday is Market Day in Bury but there is now an alternative or extra attraction: the Guildhall may be even older than Moyses Hall, the Norman era museum. It is thought to have been built in the mid-twelfth century. There is documentary evidence of its use in 1279, and the Council continued to meet there until the 1960s. One extra unique characteristic is that it accommodates the only surviving Royal Observer Corps Control Centre from World War II. If none of this appeals, a Sensory and Herb Garden has been established just outside.

Approaching on Guildhall Street there is nothing significant about the exterior. Victorian or Georgian brickwork is no preparation for the interior of the porch. A crenellated facade hides a Medieval doorway and the vaulting has heraldic insignia. The public rooms, one for meetings, the other for banquets, are elegantly Georgian in style, but the lower parts of roof timbers hint at something older. Although they can’t be seen by visitors, the timbers are magnificent, with a king post above where the high table would have been in the Middle Ages. Another clue to the building’s age is the thickness of its walls, seen in the window splays.

At the rear original Normal flint courses remain visible. Proof that the large windows are late insertions is provided by brickwork that forms a key between the window frames and the walls. Upstairs some sections of original walls are displayed in what became part of the Control Centre (previously the robing room for dignitaries). It is eerie to be in the Control Centre and see Suffolk divided into small sectors with an aerodrome in most of them and windmills in many that were used as observation posts. These had telephone links with aerodromes and the Control Centre but, astonishingly to post-war ears, the aircraft had no contact with the ground.

An issue that has a contemporary resonance is that women were paid 10d per hour and compared with 1s 6d for men. (No need to translate these figures into decimal equivalence for Silver Travellers!) Equally quaint was the instruction that forbade night shifts by mixed gender staff!

Renovation of the building was achieved by means of a Lottery grant, which means it can be visited on Wednesdays and Sundays between 11 am and 4 pm. There is a Tudor kitchen which serves twenty-first century refreshments and opportunities for children to participate in workshops and re-creation activities. An aircraft treasure hunt is offered in the gardens, where a blast wall was built to defend the Observer Corps, who were further protected by the removal of a glass cupola that could have become a landmark for raiders.

Specialist talks are offered as are flower workshops, while a further use is as a wedding or event venue. On such occasions visitors may feel comforted by the various worthies whose portraits gaze down from the walls.

Bury has more than enough to keep any visitor busy and interested. Now it has one more, and a few steps away is the excellent Guat’s Up coffee house and cafe.

John.Pelling

Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.