Welcome to the Bury St Edmunds Past and Present Society website.

Welcome to the Bury St Edmunds Past & Present Society, and the wonderful Spanton Jarman Photographic Collection.

The Society was formed in 1960 to promote and encourage an interest in the history of our town and its surrounding area. To this end we hold a series of lectures each year from October through to March on topics of local history. From this year the meetings will be held in the newly restored Medieval Guildhall in Guildhall Street, Bury St Edmunds.



1st March                               

Annual General Meeting followed by

Jo Sear, ‘Trade and commerce in late medieval Newmarket’


The full proposed programme for 2020-2021 season can be seen by clicking on the link below.

Covid-19 restrictions will determine if and when we can resume our talks in person.

In the meantime we will be using Zoom to run these lectures.

We will send out to the membership the links for these lectures.


Full Lecture Programme


Abbey of St Edmunds Heritage Partnership


Abbey of St Edmund Millennium 1020 – 2020

From Rise to Ruins

Four online talks live-streamed free from St Edmundsbury Cathedral to celebrate the 1000th anniversary of the founding of the Abbey

  • 2pm, Sat 28 November 2020: Dr Richard Hoggett
    The Abbey, the Antiquaries and the Archaeologists: Discovering the Abbey of St Edmund’
  • 2pm Sat 23 January 2021: Dr Abby Antrobus
    The Relationship between the Abbey and the Town’
  • 2pm, Sat 27 February 2021: Professor Sarah Foot,
    Patrons and Benefactors of St Edmund’s Abbey, c.900-1086
  • 2pm, Sat 27 March 2021: Professor Mark Bailey
    The Abbey of Bury St Edmunds and the History of Suffolk

Talks will be live-streamed free on:
https://www.facebook.com/stedscathedral/ and https://www.facebook.com/SuffolkInstitute/

Talks organised by the Abbey of St Edmund Heritage Partnership and the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History

The financial support of the Heritage Fund is gratefully acknowledged

About The Society

The Society’s NAME is taken from the title of a book by Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), the eminent author, biographer and historian. Published in 1843, its title was Past and Present. Carlyle devoted the whole of Book II to a description of life in the Abbey of St Edmund. The earliest edition of the Jocelin of Brakelond’s Chronicle, edited by John Gage Rokewode (a member of the Gage family of Hengrave Hall) was published by the Camden Society in 1840. This, of course, gave only the Latin text, and Carlyle’s brilliant English version made it available to those who had not had a classical education.

A copy of our constitution can be downloaded here


Committee 2020/21

President: Margaret Statham
Chairman: Stephen Cook
Vice Chairman: Anne Sutton
Secretary: Patricia Mackie
Treasurer: Stephen Cook
Website: Andrew Norburn
Membership Secretary: Patricia Mackie
Spanton Jarman Project: Betty Milburn
Programme Secretary:  Jane Carr
Publicity: Martyn Taylor
Committee Member: David Sherlock


The collection includes images in and around Bury St Edmunds, from weddings, local events, property, villages.

About the collection

View the collection

How to Join the Society

Membership is open to everyone, we charge a minimum subscription fee of £15.00 per person, or £20 for two people living at the same address.

Visitors are welcome to attend our lectures for a fee of £5 per meeting.

If you wish to apply for membership, or want to see the benefits of becoming a member You can read more on our join us page.

Membership Application Form

Picture of the Month