Abbey Gardens improvements to offer more to visitors

The Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds will be improved with a new information point and plant sales area to offer even more of an attraction to visitors.

The Abbey Gardens, part of the former Abbey of St Edmund founded 999 years ago, attracts more than 1.2 million visits per year with the footfall recorded at its entrances.

One of the big attractions of the Abbey Gardens is the floral displays looked after by the West Suffolk Council Parks Team and a team of volunteers. People are also interested in the history of the Abbey and finding out more information about the area.  

The aviary also continues to be popular and while it will remain, part of it which has stood empty for more than five years, is to be demolished over the next few weeks. That will make space for the installation of the new visitor information point and plant sales area.

While plants have been sold in the gardens for many years, a lack of space in the rangers hut by the bowls green has meant that they have had to be moved in and out of the building at the beginning and end of each day. The new modular building, which will have a sedum roof, will overcome this and allow the plants to be displayed much better. The new facility will be operated by the Parks Team, and will replace the rangers hut which is no longer fit for purpose. A decision on the future use of the old rangers hut has not yet been made.

The existing kiosk, known as The Garden Café, sells ice cream, lollies and drinks and is expected to stay open throughout the construction work which it is hoped will be completed by early in the school summer holidays.

A spokesman for the West Suffolk Council said: “The Abbey Gardens and the wider historic fabric and heritage of the Abbey of St Edmund continues to be a popular attraction for local residents and visitors alike.

“We recognise that people visit the gardens for leisure activities as well as to relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings and that is why we are continuing to invest in its facilities as well as building new tennis courts on the site of the former Eastgate Nurseries on the other side of the river.

“West Suffolk Council is a member of the Abbey of St Edmund Heritage Partnership, set up to help people better understand the life and times of St Edmund and the Medieval Abbey and to ensure its conservation for future generations to enjoy. Further improvements will be made in the area as the work of the Heritage Partnership progresses including a series of community celebrations next year to mark 1000 years since the foundation of the Abbey.”