Bury St. Edmunds  
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Photographed May 2002  

Angel Hill
Boer War Memorial
Bury Cathedral:
  King Edward VI School
St. Edmund's: Thomas Harvey

St. Edmund's Place: Calvary
St. John's Parish
St. Mary's:
  Suffolk Regiment
  Charles Brett

When writing Bloody Good (2004), I paired Bavarian memorials with those in Bury St. Edmunds, using the often-extravagant and overt religious imagery of the former to emphasize the restraint evident in the religious content of the latter.
The town of Bury is full of memorials, many of them private (usually small plaques). The memorial cross at Angel Hill dominates the central town square. Designedby Sidney Naish, it was unveiled on 13 October 1921, and stands 15 feet high. Beneath it one can read the names 427 servicemen and seven air-raid victims; a leatherbound scroll made to accompany the memorial is kept in the catheral. Such crosses were from the beginning, and in many places still are, the focus of memorial services on November 11 each year, Remembrance Day, a custom that dates from 1919. (IMW numbers given throughout refer to the catalogue of memorials in the Imperial War Museum, London.)

This cross seems to be the model for many much smaller crosses located in or outside of villages in the vicinity, such as the roadside memorial at Higham St. Mary's (see Suffolk link above). Most of these memorials were adapted to commemorate the dead of World War II.

Most war memorials in Bury line the walls or occupy recesses in the town's many churches. There are several in the cathedral. One of them, from King Edward VI School, lists 32 dead on a marble plaque that features two shields with crossed arrows. Arrows were the instruments of Edmund's martrydom and these may be a reference to him; if so they are the only such references I saw on the war memorials in Bury (IWM 5137).

King Edward VI School memorial, Bury cathedral
and a modern embroidered representation of Edward's martyrdom

The grandest memorial in the cathedral is a large three-light window in memory of Capt. Clement Beckford, who was killed at the Somme in November 1918. The memorial was dedicated on 11 November 1919 and so is very early by any standard.

The window memorialzies two others members of the Beckford-Bevan family, both of whom died before the war, and features three Old Testament scenes: Joseph and his brothers on the left; thePassover, center; and Samuel, David, and Hosea on the right (IWM 5136). These subjects fit the Old Testament illustrative programme of the cathedral windows and do not seem to have been chosen with the war or these particular individuals in mind.

The other great locus for memorials in Bury is St. Mary's Church, where a large cenotaph and a book of honor commemorate the dead of the Suffolk Regiment and their relatives. Four mourning angels, two on either of the long sides, represent France, Flanders, Egypt, and Palestine. The memorial was dedicated on 15 March 1920 but was subsequently altered to include World War II. St. Mary's contains other memorials to men of the Suffolk Regiment and at least three private memorials (IWM 5153, 5157, 5158).

Suffolk Regiment Memorial, St. Mary's Church, Bury, and, below, a private memorial
to Charles Brett, a commanding officer killed just three weeks into the war.

The Catholic church of St. Edmund contains a plaque listing the dead of the parish (IWM 21305) and also holds a large altar dedicated to Lt. Harry Thomas Harvey (IWM5180), who died at Ypres in 1917. The altar is 15 feet high; a statue of Mary is positioned against a blue background. The integrates a request for prayers with the memorial act: "Of your charity pray for the soul of Harry Thomas Harvey."

Lt. Harvey memorial, St. Edmund's Church, Bury

In the church entrance there is a memorial to the men of the parish.

Another church memorial that invites prayer is found in St. John's Church, where a prayer station features a crucifix and kneeler; on either side of the crucifix are plaques naming 119 dead (IWM5162).
This small memorial (left)is for Ernest Geoffrey Adams, who died in June 1918, son of the vicar of the parish.

Also impressive is the calvary at St. Edmunds Place, a corner of Bury so remote that three policemen and a tour guide could not tell me where it was. This is one of the few memorials calvaries to be found in Suffolk, and one must make an effort to find it (others arefound at Boxford, Bucklesham, Edwardstone, Felixstowe St. John, Lound, and Stoke-by-Nayland(list courtesy of Gwyn Thomas). Inscribed "In Jesus' Keeping," the wooden structure has been placed on a worn brick wall; it bears the names of ten men and a cross. The carver was E. W.Cotlis; the memorial was refurbished in 1992 by a citizen of the town. The memorial was dedicated on 28 August 1920 (IWM 5171).

Calvary at St. Edmund's Place, Bury

The best memorial in Bury is "Vulneratus," the Boer War memorial. Nothing the town did to remember World War I matched the power and force of this soldier or his commanding position in the town.


Outside of Bury memorials are much more colorful and expressive. I visited fourteen villages and saw memorials in twelve of them. For these memorials, follow this link.