Bury St Edmunds, or St Edmundsbury, a clean, well-built town of West Suffolk, on the little river Lark, 26 miles NW. of Ipswich, and 76 NNE. of London. It was named after Edmund the Martyr, who on Christmas-day 856 was crowned here king of the East Angles, and who in 870 was shot to death at Hoxne by the Danes. His relics were translated hither in 903, and in 1020 Canute reared a Benedictine abbey in his honour, which in time became the richest and most important in England, Glastonbury only excepted. Little now remains but the noble Abbey Gate (1327-77), Decorated in style, and 62 feet high; and the Norman Tower or Church Gate (c. 1090), a quadrangular tower of massive simplicity, 86 feet high. The cruciform church itself, which measured 512 by 212 feet, is represented only by the west front and the piers of the central tower, one of which bears the inscription: 'Near this spot, on 20th November 1214, Cardinal Langton and the Barons swore at St Edmund's altar that they would obtain from King John the ratification of Magna Charta.' St Saviour's Hospital was founded by that notable abbot, Samson, whose life and actions, as recorded by Jocelin de Brakelonde, Carlyle has so vividly recalled in his Past and Present. The poet Lyd-gate was a monk of Bury St Edmunds; and Bishops Gardiner and Blomfield, Sir Nicholas Bacon, and Crabb Robinson were natives. St Mary's and St James's churches are both fine Gothic edifices of the 15th century; in the former is the tomb of Mary Tudor, the widow of Louis XII. of France. The grammar-school (1550) was rebuilt on a new site in 1883 in Queen Anne style at a cost of £12,000. Donaldson was one of its head-masters, and amongst its scholars have been the Norths, Sancroft, Cumberland, Blomfield, J. M. Kemble, FitzGerald, and Sped-ding. Defoe, Wollaston, ' Mr Pickwick,' ' Ouida,' and F. W. Robertson were residents. Since 1883 .
Bury St Edmunds has returned only one member to parliament. Pop. (1801) 7655; (1841) 12,538; (1901) 16,250. See works by Gillingwater (1804) and Thomas Arnold (1893).