St Edmundsbury Cathedral

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St Edmundsbury Cathedral
Cathedral Church of St James
Cathedral from the east
St Edmundsbury Cathedral is located in Suffolk
St Edmundsbury Cathedral
St Edmundsbury Cathedral
Shown within Suffolk
52°14′38″N 0°43′00″E / 52.243889°N 0.716667°E / 52.243889; 0.716667Coordinates: 52°14′38″N 0°43′00″E / 52.243889°N 0.716667°E / 52.243889; 0.716667
Location Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
Country England
Denomination Church of England
Tradition Liberal Catholic
Style Gothic, Gothic Revival
Years built 1503–2007
Diocese St Edmundsbury & Ipswich (since 1914)
Province Canterbury

The Right Reverend Martin Seeley

The Right Reverend Mike Harrison
Dean Frances Ward
Subdean Matthew Vernon, Canon Pastor
Precentor Philip Banks
Director of music James Thomas
Organist(s) Daniel Soper
The choir, looking east towards the high altar

St Edmundsbury Cathedral (formally entitled The Cathedral Church of St James) is the cathedral for the Church of England's Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich. It is the seat of the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich and is in Bury St Edmunds.


A church has stood on the site of the cathedral since at least 1065, when St Denis's Church was built within the precincts of Bury St Edmunds Abbey.[1] In the early 12th century the Abbot, Anselm had wanted to make a pilgrimage along the Way of St James to Santiago de Compostela. He was unsuccessful and instead rebuilt St Denis's and dedicated the new church to Saint James, which served as the parish church for the north side of Bury St Edmunds.

This church was largely rebuilt, starting in 1503, with more alterations in the 18th and 19th centuries. When the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich was created in 1914, St James Church was made the cathedral. In 1959 Benjamin Britten wrote the Fanfare for St Edmundsbury for a "Pageant of Magna Carta" held in the cathedral grounds.

From 1960 onwards there was renewed building work designed to transform the former parish church into a cathedral building, with the rebuilding of the chancel and the creation of transepts and side chapels. The cathedral architect from 1943 to 1988 was Stephen Dykes Bower and he left £2 million for the completion of the cathedral.[2] In the cathedral grounds a new choir school and visitor's centre were built which were opened in 1990. Work started on a Gothic revival style tower in 2000; funded by the Millennium Commission, the Stephen Dykes Bower Trust and others, the Millennium Tower was designed by Hugh Matthew, an associate of Dykes Bower. The 150 foot (46 metre) structure was built from 600,000 bricks and faced with Barnack and Clipsham stone. Its completion was officially celebrated on 22 July 2005.[3]


The font was designed in 1870 by George Gilbert Scott, constructed on a medieval shaft, with a cover by F. E. Howard of Oxford. The decoration was added in 1960.

In addition to guided tours of the cathedral itself, visitors can view changing exhibits of art in the Edmund Gallery, and an exhibit of historic and religious regalia and artefacts in the Cathedral Treasures display. The painting "The Martyrdom of St Edmund" by Brian Whelan hangs in the Lady Chapel.

Dean and chapter[edit]

The Dean of St Edmundsbury is the head (primus inter pares – first among equals) and chair of the chapter of canons, the ruling body of the cathedral. Before 2000 the post was designated as a provost, which was then the equivalent of a dean at most English cathedrals. The first provost was John Orpen.

Organ and organists[edit]


The two organ cases, in the north transept and north choir

Details of the organ from the National Pipe Organ Register

Director of Music[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "History - Building The Church". St Edmundsbury Cathedral. Retrieved 2008-03-10. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Harris, Brian L (2006). Harris's Guide to Churches and Cathedrals: Discovering the unique and unusual in over 500 churches and cathedrals. London: Ebury Publishing. p. 58. ISBN 978-0091912512. 
  4. ^ St Edmundsbury Cathedral – Installation of Ward as Dean
  5. ^ St Edmundsbury Cathedral – Appointment of Sub-Dean
  6. ^ Emmanuel, Hong Kong – Installation of Canon Vernon
  7. ^ St Edmundsbury & Ipswich – Former Chartered Surveyor to be Canon

External links[edit]