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Ruins of the western front of the Abbey church in St Edmunds Bury

Ruins of the western front of the Abbey church in St Edmunds Bury

Artist and engraver: Kendall, J

Medium: Aquatint with etching

Date: 1787

Shelfmark: Ktop XXXIX

Item number: 13-e-3

Genre: Topographical Print

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The Abbey of St Edmundsbury was one of the wealthiest and most influential Benedictine abbeys in England, holding the relics of the local saint, Edmund. The Benedictine presence dates from the 11th century. At 505 feet long and with a west front spanning some 245 feet, the Abbey church was huge, dwarfing most other cathedral churches in England. The west front was built around AD1140.

The abbey church was damaged a number of times, mostly by riots and fire, and by the time of this picture it had fallen into ruin. Daniel Defoe, wrote in the 1720s: "The abbey is demolish'd; its ruins are all that is to be seen of its glory." In the print, the west front wall appears to have been partially buried and some townhouses have been built into the medieval wall.

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