Town to commemorate its most famous names

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THE legacy of some of the most influential talents to have graced Bury St Edmunds is to be celebrated in a Blue Plaque Trail.

Seven plaques are to be installed on town centre properties which are linked to an eclectic mix of historical figures including author Charles Dickens.

The trail has been drawn up by the Bury Society, who were inspired by a similar scheme dating back to 1907 when 11 stone plaques for famous people were installed throughout the town.

Martyn Taylor, Blue Plaque co-ordinator for the society and registered tour guide for the town, hopes the heritage project will attract tourists from across the country.

He said: “There are people who do Blue Plaque trails and go to each town and city to follow them. We’re going to produce a trail leaflet to give more details about the lives of the people celebrated.”

The Bury Society is seeking consent from St Edmundsbury Borough Council to install six of the plaques on listed buildings.

They include one at Northgate House, in Northgate Street, to commemorate author Norah Lofts, who lived there.

The writer penned more than 50 novels and several were turned into films.

Another plaque at The Angel Hotel, on Angel Hill, would celebrate Charles Dickens, who mentioned the venue in his first novel The Pickwick Papers.

While visiting Bury in 1859 and 1861, he stayed there.

The blue trail continues at Norman Tower Cottage, in Crown Street, for Lewis Nockalls Cottingham – Gothic revivalist architect who helped renovate the Norman Tower.

A plaque has been earmarked for 81 Guildhall Street – former home of banker and diarist James Oakes, who kept a diary chronicling daily life for nearly 50 years from 1778. He was mayor of the town five times.

Artist Sybil Andrews will be celebrated on the Royal Bank of Scotland building, in Guildhall Street, where she was born while at the Street Level restaurant, in Abbeygate Street, there would be a plaque for cellist and clock collector Frederic Gershom Parkington. Meanwhile, a plaque at 18a Crown Street will celebrate the life of artist Rose Mead, who painted the town’s first female mayor Eva Wollaston Greene.

The project is being funded by a variety of sources and has received support from a number of organisations.