Friday, 28 June 2013

Costume History in Bury St Edmunds, Near Cambridge, UK

With all the wealth of sights around Cambridge, it is easy to overlook some local gems. One of the best is the ancient Burgh of St Edmunds some 30 miles due east of Cambridge where in 869AD the Christian King Edmund was shot to death by Viking arrows. The Burgh became rich as pilgrims from Europe came to vist the tomb of the martyr and the abbey built there to commemorate Edmund was the third largest one in Europe. Today you can find a delightful county town. The first place to visit is the museum, Moyse's Hall. Here you can explore the collection of costumes and textiles that dates from around 1600 to the present day and includes some fine examples of seventeenth-century embroidery and eighteenth-century embroidered waistcoats as well as a great variety of nineteenth century women's and children's wear.

Moyse's Hall is an ancient building that has had many uses through the course of time. Today, it houses a textile collection specializing in fine embroideries and costume with ornate surface decoration. The seventeenth-century examples include sleeve-panels with fashionable strawberry designs in red silks and gold thread. An elaborate man's cap and a lady's coif are decorated with Tudor rose and other floral motifs, while a frame picture of the same period has the classical figure of Charitas, surrounded by similar creatures created in numerous exquisitely detailed embroidery techniques.

Don't miss a period production at the Theatre Royal while you are there - the pretty theatre dates back to regency times.
Have lunch in Pea Porridge 28-29 Cannon Street for a wonderful local produce menu served for £12.50 for two courses - £16.50 for three. It is next door to the Old Cannon Microbrewery where you can enjoy a numbered bottle of Gunner's Daughter for aperitif.
And THE place to stay is the Angel Inn overlooking the wide square which fronts the Abbey grounds.

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