Landmark fenced off after stone crumbles

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ONE of Bury St Edmunds’ most iconic landmarks may be closed for the foreseeable future after part of its exterior began to crumble.

Fencing was put up around a section of the Grade I listed Abbey Gate at the entrance to the Abbey Gardens last Thursday after pieces of debris and stonework fell from the historic structure.

A spokeswoman for St Edmundsbury Borough Council said last Friday that the damage was weather related, with the building suffering at the hands of the cold.

“Council staff yesterday extended the area which was cordoned but today decided to close the gate, due to concerns that netting across the top may not be strong enough to catch masonry,” she said.

“We have taken advice from the English Heritage and will be discussing future repairs with them,” she said.

She added that people would still be available to access the Abbey Gardens through other entrances.

Initial safety measures were put in place around a fortnight ago.

But the damage has since worsened, leading the borough council to widen the fenced-off area.

The gate is expected to remain partially fenced off until at least the end of the winter while the cold weather subsides.

English Heritage, which has responsibility for the structural aspect of the gate, confirmed it had sent an engineer to look at the gate.

A spokeswoman said: “Old structures like the Abbey Gate are susceptible to extended periods of extreme cold weather.

“It is not a structural issue, but we will keep a close eye on the situation with the help of the council and discuss with them the right course of action.”

The gate was originally built in the 12th century before being destroyed in 1327 by rioters angry at the power of the monastery.

It was rebuilt around 20 years later.