Every street harbours an untold story and Bury St Edmunds historian Martyn Taylor has uncovered some of these gems in his latest book.
In ‘A-Z of Bury St Edmunds’, Martyn has rattled through the alphabet to chronicle fascinating tales of select locations in the town from the iconic Angel Hill to the tucked away Zulu Lane.
“There’s over 60 locations and many have never been covered before in books - I’ve tried to keep away from some of the classic historical locations,” he said. “I’ve tried to introduce something which people can resonate with.”
The book took more than a year to write after Martyn put forward the idea to publisher Amberley. He compares the process of finding streets for each letter to Scrabble as ‘some letters are more popular than others’ and admits that ‘X did pose a headache’.
The book covers an eclectic mix of pubs, people and places; buildings and architecture, churches to chapels and local anecdotes.
Highlights include never before published photographs of Suffolk General Hospital, in Hospital Road, and details on the former Victoria Infant School, in Victoria Street. Martyn shines the spotlight on Peckham Street where there was a ‘rope-walk’ - a ‘long, covered way where lengths of jute or hemp were twisted under tension, creating ropes of different plys’.
Focusing on Cotton Lane, there are details about the discovery of a medieval well and there is a section devoted to Pea Porridge Green.
There is a look at the former Everards Hotel, in Woolhall Street; the history of Durbar Terrace and the building of the A14 flyover in Fornham Road. Martyn also gives a mention to some of the ‘characters’ of Guildhall Street including Anne Major-Davies, who ran a newspaper and tobacconist shop.
“The stories behind these streets and many others are fascinating - how they were named, who lived where, what was there and what is there now,” he added.
n ‘A-Z of Bury St Edmunds’ is available now from Moyse’s Hall, Waterstones and the Cathedral Shop. Martyn will sign copies at Waterstones, in Buttermarket, on October 1 and at the Cathedral Shop on October 8. Both are from 11am to 1pm.