From Rise to Ruins: Four Abbey Millennium talks

Abbey of St Edmund Partnership - Millennium celebrations 1020-2020

From Rise to          Ruins

2020 marks 1000 years since the founding of the Benedictine abbey in Bury St Edmunds by Cnut. Our joint conference will be held as four separate lectures, to be live-streamed in sequence, between November 2020 and March 2021. Thanks to heritage lottery funding there are no charges involved, so you can encourage your friends, family, and non-members to listen too.

We hope you will find these talks stimulating, and you can take part in the question time afterwards. The sessions will be chaired by Dr Nick Amor and you can watch them in your own homes. Following the initial streaming of all four talks, they will be available to watch again at: 

Photo: Bob Carr.


Saturday 28 November 2020: Dr Rik Hoggett, The abbey, the antiquaries and the archaeologists: discovering the abbey of St Edmund

This lecture examines the ways in which antiquaries and archaeologists have approached the study of the abbey since the Dissolution, and reveals what recent archaeological fieldwork has told us about the development of the monastic site.

Dr Richard Hoggett is a freelance heritage consultant, writer and lecturer, with an academic background in Anglo-Saxon and medieval monasticism. In 2018, he completed a detailed Heritage Assessment of the former abbey site, which has informed the ongoing work of the Abbey of St Edmund Heritage Partnership.

This talk has been recorded, so is not a live-stream. It is introduced by Dr Nick Amor. The address to visit in order to hear the lecture by Dr Rik Hoggett is:  and click on videos in the menu on the left of the page to find it.

Available  to watch on YouTube:

Saturday 23 January 2021: Dr Abby Antrobus, From rise to riots: the relationship between the abbey and the town

This talk will examine how, focussed on the shrine of St Edmund, the abbey and town developed from their Anglo-Saxon origins into the Norman period. It will consider the archaeological evidence for the growth of the built environment as wealth was generated and expansion took place, in this period of cultural change.

Dr Abby Antrobus is a Senior Archaeological Officer at Suffolk County Council where she provides advice on the archaeological implications of development across Suffolk, particularly in the county’s towns. Her doctoral thesis was on the development of Bury St Edmunds.  


The video recording is online at

Saturday 27 February 2021: Professor Sarah Foot, Patrons and benefactors of St Edmund’s abbey, c.900-1086

The origins of the first community of St Edmund remain obscure, but probably date back to the late ninth century. From the earliest surviving written records, we know that the leading families of Suffolk and Norfolk took a close interest in promotion of the saint’s cult and support of the abbey. This paper discusses those patrons and benefactors, explores Cnut’s re-foundation of Bury in 1020, and considers why William the Conqueror also chose to patronise Bury St Edmunds.

Sarah Foot is the Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History and a Canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford. She has written extensively on early medieval monasticism and the Anglo-Saxon church and has, with Kathryn Lowe, prepared an edition of the pre-Conquest charters of Bury St Edmunds. She is currently working on an intellectual biography of the Venerable Bede.

Saturday 27 March 2021: The abbey of Bury St Edmunds and the history of Suffolk

Mark Bailey, Professor of Late Medieval History, UEA, and President of SIAH

The abbey possessed vast landed estates and extensive judicial powers throughout Suffolk, and the ways in which it exploited its properties and its rights had a profound influence upon Suffolk life in the Middle Ages: and, indeed, the consequences of some of those decisions are still evident in the modern landscape. This lecture considers the abbey's external relationship with the people of medieval Suffolk, including its stormy relationship with the town itself.

Mark went to school in Suffolk, and played sport for the county in his youth. He has just finished a stint as High Master of St Paul's School, London, and returned to UEA. In 2019 he delivered the Ford Lectures in British History at the University of Oxford, and the book of the series will be published in February 2021 by OUP as After the Black Death: economy, society and the law in fourteenth-century England.