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. Meetings are held in the newly restored Medieval Guildhall in Guildhall Street, Bury St Edmunds.


2023 – 2024 Lecture season

Monday 4th December

Adrian Tindall

The Montpellier of Suffolk: Bury St Edmunds’ French connections.
From William the Conqueror’s doctor to a Queen of France, from a Georgian émigré to a Victorian cyclist, from Napoleon to D-Day, the story of Bury St Edmunds has for 1,000 years been linked with that of France.  This illustrated talk will take you on a tour through the ages, tracing Bury St Edmunds’ sometimes surprising French Connections.

All meetings are held in

The Guildhall, Guildhall Street,

Bury St Edmunds, IP33 1QB

and begin at 7.30pm.

Full Lecture Programme



Abbey of St Edmunds Heritage Partnership


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 2023/24

President: Margaret Statham
Chairman: Stephen Cook
Vice Chairman: tba
Secretary: Patricia Mackie
Treasurer: Stephen Cook
Website: Andrew Norburn
Membership Secretary: Patricia Mackie
Spanton Jarman Project: Betty Milburn
Programme Secretary:  Jane Patton
Publicity: Martyn Taylor


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 £16.00 per person, or £22 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