Tickets are now on sale for St Edmundsbury Cathedral’s Secrets of the Abbey: History Returns exhibition which runs 2 May to 8 June 2022.
For the first time in almost 500 years, seven ancient manuscripts from the Abbey Scriptorium will return to where they were written, and this free-of-charge exhibition will give people the rare chance to view these amazing artefacts up close.
The Abbey’s library had about 3,000 books by the time it was closed by Henry VIII in 1539. Of these only 270 survive. 154 are in Cambridge libraries, with 121 in Pembroke College who has generously loaned these manuscripts for the celebration. Most were originally given to Pembroke College in 1599 by William Smart, Portreeve of Ipswich, and one was gifted by Edmund Boldero, who was born in Bury St Edmunds and became Master of Jesus College, Cambridge in the mid seventeenth century.
Accompanying the display of these manuscripts is an exhibition detailing life at the Abbey, how manuscripts were written in the Abbey Scriptorium and more about life in the town during abbey times.
Secrets of the Abbey: History Returns is part of the Abbey 1000 series of events to mark the millennium of the founding of the Abbey of St Edmund. This exhibition has been made possible by a Heritage Grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund. Abbey 1000 celebrations are being coordinated by the Abbey 1000 C.I.C. (which includes St Edmundsbury Cathedral), alongside The Abbey of St Edmund Heritage Partnership.
The Revd Canon Matthew Vernon, who is part of the Abbey 1000 C.I.C., said, “We are delighted to welcome back these ancient works to the site of the Abbey. The monks showed their religious commitment by creating objects of great artistic skill and beauty. These manuscripts are some of the amazing creations surviving today which help us understand the life of the Abbey and its monks’ faith in God.”
Tickets are now on sale via stedscathedral.org/abbey-1000-events and are free. However, booking is essential as entrance into the exhibition is timed.