Visit England’s Annual Visitor Attractions Survey for 2020 (published 19 August) lists Bury St Edmunds Abbey Gardens and Abbey Ruins as the fifth most visited free attraction. The 14-acre town centre attraction welcomed some 1,021,048 visitors last year and was the only attraction outside of London in the top five.
St Edmundsbury Cathedral also featured in the Top 10 free attractions in the East of England, while Ickworth House, Park and Gardens is listed as number five in the Top 10 paid attractions in the East of England.
The Abbey Gardens are home to the remains of the Abbey of St Edmund, which will be celebrating its 1000th anniversary throughout 2022. Founded by King Canute, the Benedictine Abbey was one of the richest and most important monasteries in Medieval Europe attracting pilgrims from across the globe, including royalty. Today visitors are also drawn by the outstanding floral displays as well as the aviary, bowling green, family play area, garden café and riverside walk.
Sue Warren, Brand and Marketing Manager, at the town’s official tourism brand Bury St Edmunds and Beyond, said: “We are absolutely thrilled that Bury St Edmunds’ top attraction is featured for the first time in the Visit England annual attractions survey, and is the fifth most visited free attraction in England and first in the East of England.
“Bury St Edmunds is becoming increasingly well-known thanks to the work by Bury St Edmunds Beyond, Our Bury St Edmunds, and our partners in the town and we are thrilled that this very special place, where the Shrine of St Edmund used to stand within the Great Abbey Church is recognised in this way.
“The Abbey Gardens team, Abbey Gardens Friends, Bury in Bloom, and West Suffolk Council should be congratulated on their fantastic work not only in a very challenging year but over the years in keeping the Abbey Gardens looking at its ‘jewel in the crown’ best for visitors and residents alike.”
Cllr Jo Rayner, Cabinet Member for Leisure and Culture said: “This is great news to be named in the top five visitor attractions. The gardens in their historic setting are very popular and in the past year or so we have opened new tennis courts to encourage sport and activity, as well as a wildflower labyrinth which attracts bees and butterflies and adds to the beauty and enjoyment of these wonderful surroundings. My congratulations to our team of rangers and volunteers who work tirelessly to keep the gardens looking so colourful and attractive and of course to the Friends of the Abbey Gardens for their continuing support.”
For more information about things to see and do visit www.burystedmundsandbeyond.co.uk.