Task Two: Research

History of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England - the town's history goes beyond the well-known tales of St Edmund & Magna Carta. Two battles were fought nearby, a prince died here and the heir to the throne was murdered here. High treason was plotted. The town also has links with the ransom of a king, the divorce of another and the burial of a queen; Not to mention the abolition of slavery and the Salem Witch Trials ...:
I was lucky enough to find this brief time line that ends at the 1800’s, reading through it I rather like the idea of creating a piece that focus’s on the expulsion of the Jews in 1190. This is because I never knew that it was Bury St Edmund’s that was the first town to do such a horrific thing. I researched into this further to find out more in depth of the events that happened in this expulsion, I learnt that the turmoil around King Richard the first’s organised crusade had large consequences for the quaint Jewish community at this time; Around two/three thousand Jewish residents at this point. Living under a man named Stephen they had been largely protected, in turn they had provided banking services that aided to the economic growth. I had also discovered that, In Bury St Edmund’s a pocket sized Jewish community had also developed under the protection of the abbey. This helped to benefit from loans that had been provided by the Jewish traders. The abbot, Hugh, who allowed his abbey to become seriously honour bound sadly died in 1180. Poorly-judged and unaware of the consequences to follow, the Jewish moneylenders attempted to have an abbot of their own choice elected and as he didn’t get the majority vote he lost, and Abbot Samson who won held a sore grudge. On March 20 1190 Samson was probably one of those who sent men off to the Crusade, along with many others to bombard the Jews who had been living in Hatter Street, killing 57 of them. He soon afterwards thought of the expulsion of the survivors

I like this idea but I feel like we would need to have a lot of time to perform a scene to approach this as it is not very well known and the people that shall be seeing the tour would need time to get context of the events that happened around this particular topic. With this in mind, I do not feel like this idea would be done justice in such a short amount of time for it to have the desired affect.

Jews Massacred in Bury St Edmunds

Another aspect of this timeline that interested me was the dissolution of the monastery’s in 1528. Many monasteries were destroyed by King Henry VIII, over 800 monasteries, with in these includes Abbeys, nunneries and friaries. Some of these brought in a huge amount of wealth as well as being homes to more than 10,000 monks, nuns, friars and canons.



I have also started a pinterest page so when I find useful things online I can keep it all on one page rather then having to search back for the pages that I have found so I can refer to them when I need to.

So far I have found some interesting reads on witch craft in Bury, workhouses, witch craft and information about monasteries.

14th April 2016:

History of witch craft in Suffolk:

According to Woodger’s account of witch trails in Suffolk on the BBC website, the biggest single witch trail took place in Bury S.t Edmunds itself where 18 were put to death by hanging alone in 1645. He goes on to talk about how Est Anglia became well known for the witch trails due to the “self-styled” witchcraft general Matthew Hopkins. Up until Hopkins arrived in Bury S.t Edmunds the biggest case had been the Lancaster trials which excecuted 11 ‘witches” on Pendle hill (1612), this was Hopkins largest case before he came to Bury S.t Edmunds. Woodger talk about how the local parishes would often pay him to find the witches. The most common way to do this would be through confessing that you were a witch, ways to draw out the confessions would be though “witch pricking” which included needles and one of the most popular technique which was dunking. This one is fairly straight forward, if the accused floated then the devil had saved them and they would be executed, however if they drowned they were innocent and they died. Woodger states that approximately 100 people were sentenced to death during Hopkins work in East Anglia.

BBC (2009) Suffolk’s history of witch trials. Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/suffolk/hi/people_and_places/history/newsid_8389000/8389033.stm (Accessed: 14 April 2016).

16th April 2016:

There were many method’s that were used to draw out a confession from a person that was accused of witchery. In relation to Andrew’s document on the methods used in Salem some of them were:

  1. One of the most bizarre is a techniques was one called ‘witch cakes’, here they would take the urine of a victim then mix it together with rye-meal and ashes, they would then fed to ‘animal familiars’ or animal helpers of witches in hopes that they would then reveal the name of the person responsible for the witchery.
  2. The Prayer test is one that was used as hard evidence against the accused. It involved speaking the lords prayer out loud or any passage from the bible, however it was usually the Lords prayer. If any mistakes were made then it was ‘proof’ that the accused had the devil in them and they were sent to the gallows.
  3. The touch test is another theory where the victim would have a special reaction to the person who had ‘witched’ them. This would only be used if the victim had fallen into fits, spells or possession. If the suspected placed a hand on them and they came out of the fit/spell or possession then it was proof that they had placed a spell on them before.
  4. The one that is heard of more commonly which is the “swimming test” or “Dunking”. Which is the same as the dunking that Hopkins would use during his questioning on the accused.

Thomas, R. (2012) 10 tests for guilt at the Salem witch trials. Available at: http://listverse.com/2012/07/27/10-tests-for-guilt-used-at-the-salem-witch-trials/ (Accessed: 16 April 2016).

I think that if we did a piece around the witch hunts then we could use documents form people who were actually accused and see what happened to them during the trial period and if any of the methods that I have listed or any more as I have only listen a few,


The History of the local workhouse’s in Bury St Edmunds dates back to around the 1620’s, however the date of when it came about is not specified and was located in a house in Whiting Street. By 1622, one of the house’s in Churchgate Street was also converted into a workhouse, along with Moyses Hall was used a workhouse around the 1630’s and was also a house for “correction”, as well as being the town gaol. By the 1700’s Bury was faciltaed with two work houses. One in Eastgate Street for the parish of St James, and one in Schoolhall Street for St Mary’s.

A local history – st Edmundsbury from 1539 to 1699 (no date) Available at: http://www.stedmundsburychronicle.co.uk/Chronicle/1539-1699.htm#1690 (Accessed: 16 April 2016).

In 1623 there was a rather pitiful harvest and a depression that engulfed the enitre country. Following this lack of work, St Peters Hospital, Out Risbygate  was converted into a correctional facility. Due to the thickness of poverty and virtual starvation in Bury, many were thrilled with the opportunity to have a placement in the workhouse and would feel blessed.

(No Date) Available at: http://Theborough of st Edmundsbury – the religious hospitals and schools of the area (no date) Available at: http://www.stedmundsburychronicle.co.uk/Rel-hospitals.htm (Accessed: 14 May 2016) (Accessed: 16 April 2016).

Precedent to 1834, due to the deficiency of the indivdual parishes inwhich the poverty relief was left to, it was believed that it lead to a great deal in illness and suffering amoung the less fortunate. The Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 marshalled the prompt a swift fall in the costing of relief areas that had been made intentionally nasty. Nevertheless the of the evils that it was to undo only ended up embellishing more to it. This included the documents on the expenditure in population growth within certain areas. Along with social and economic corruption of giving money to the lower orders. The silver lining is that it did put a limit on power to local rural dictators.

The poor law amendment act, 1834 (2016) Available at: http://www.historyhome.co.uk/peel/poorlaw/poorlaw.htm (Accessed: 16 April 2016).

The equipment of the new Poor Law in itself constituted a pratical management revolution: a central commission that was not under any direct for of control provided by ministors or parlement, this gave the power to do the following

  • “establish efficient local administrative units

  • supervise the work of locally elected guardians

  • prescribe the qualifications of local officials

  • make regulations for the general administration of relief.The principles on which the commissioners were to act followed from the recommendations of an earlier report:

  • the principle of ‘less eligibility’ (workhouse conditions should be made less preferable than those of the lowest paid labourer)

  • the prohibition of outdoor relief (relief outside the workhouse)

  • the segregation of different classes of paupers (including the separation of married couples)

  • the abolition of the ‘rate-in-aid’ (grants to supplement low wages).”

The poor law amendment act: 14 august 1834 (2002) Available at: http://www.victorianweb.org/history/poorlaw/plaatext.html (Accessed: 16 April 2016).

The integrity of the New Poor Law were never fully enforced. The elderly in many areas did continue to receive some comfort outside the workhouse but it would not have been much. Workhouses is most cases were abominable: in 1845, In one unfortunate case the inmates of a workhouse in Andover were starved and were found to be chewing gristle off of the bones that they were to grinding and crushing. The workhouses came increasingly to rest on a fearsome reputation mainly by fear of being branded as a ‘pauper’. Instead of the diabolical conditions. When the middle classes started to use the Poor Law hospitals, it was governed that they should be brought into the hospital through the workhouse yard, so that they would know where they were.

British social policy 1601-1948 (1946) Available at: http://www.spicker.uk/social-policy/history.htm (Accessed: 16 April 2016).

If we did a piece on the workhouses I would like to focus on the inmates of the workhouses and the conditions that they were kept in, the situations that would have forced them to go to the workhouse. We could also do a piece about the rise and the fall of the workhouses. I think this would be a good idea, as for many the generic idea of workhouses summons the image of ‘Oliver Twist’ pleading for food from the Master of the house The reality was much different and not a romantic as the tale.

17th April 2016:

History of bury –

“630 A monastery is founded on the site of Bury St Edmunds

869 King Edmund is martyred

1100 Bury St Edmunds is a flourishing town

1150 Bury St Edmunds has a population of about 4,000. The main industry in the town is making wool.

1180 Moyses Hall is built

1214 The barons swear an oath in Bury St Edmunds Abbey to force the king to accept Magna Carta

1235 Bury St Edmunds gains two annual fairs

1465 Bury St Edmunds abbey burns down

1539 Bury St Edmunds abbey is closed

1550 Kind Edward founds a grammar school at Bury St Edmunds

1589 Plague strikes Bury St Edmunds

1606 Bury St Edmunds is given a charter (a document granting the townspeople certain rights).

1608 Bury St Edmunds is badly damaged by a fire

1637 Bury St Edmunds is struck by plague again. The population of Bury is about 5,000 making it a large town.

1693 Cupola House is built

1700 Bury St Edmunds has declined in importance and is becoming a market town rather than a manufacturing centre.

1780 Market Cross is built in Bury St Edmunds

1801 Bury St Edmunds has a population of about 7,665, a respectable size

1811 A body of men is formed to pave, clean and light the streets

1819 Theatre Royal is built

1834 Bury St Edmunds gains gas light

1837 The Church of St Edmund is built

1846 Bury St Edmunds is connected to Ipswich by rail

1899 The Borough Museum opens

1900 Bury St Edmunds has a population of 16,000

1914 St James Church is made Bury St Edmunds Cathedral”

1916 A zeppelin raid kills 7 people

1952 Bury Water Tower is built

1964 A new Police Station is built

1972 Bury St Edmunds Art Gallery opens

1974 A new District Hospital opens

1975 A new Sports Centre is built

1987 A new Fire Station is built

1993 Manor House Museum opens

2001 An Internet Bench opens

A Timeline of bury st Edmunds (no date) Available at: http://www.localhistories.org/burytime.html (Accessed: 16 April 2016).

St Benadictine Monks:

St Benedict

St. Benedict is known to us principally through the Second Book of the Dialogues of St. Gregory the Great: “The Life and Miracles of St. Benedict” . This text appeared within 50 years of St. Benedict’s death.

The Order of St Benedict

Saint Benedict was the founder of the Order of Saint Benedict and was also was one of out of the many Abbots who wrote a Rule for the monks. Over the course of two centuries the Rule spread, it was due to the supremacy of Charlemagne that it gathered a collection of possessions in the West country.

With in each of the maverick  houses of the Order, is a separate family dominated by an Abbot. Each also has their  Each independent house of the Order is a separate family ruled by an Abbot and has its own novitiate, which is a form of probation or training in a religious house of this time.

While each monastery will have its specific role with in their ‘family’ common attributes are discovered in all of the Benedictine houses, Christ will be at the centre of all things. Each community will always aim and work to attain a healthy balance between prayer,  work and study.

Monks, B., reserved, A. right and Website (2015) St Benedict & the order. Available at: http://www.benedictinemonks.co.uk/news/st-benedict-the-order/ (Accessed: 16 April 2016).s

Nuns and sisters:

The difference between a nun and a sister can be confusing as they overlap quite often, however there are distinguishing differences. In brief a nun is a woman allied to a religious order and has taken vows of poverty, chastity and finally obedience. The nun make their vows publicly and are to be received by their superior before the church. Once they have been attached by their vows in the name of the church, the women are commenly known as ‘Sister’, although depending on their rank they may also be known as ‘Dame’, ‘Mother’, ‘Reverend Mother’, etc. When women have taken their simple vows and not their solemn vows and women is then a ‘Sister’ and not a ‘Nun’.

User, S. (1996) The meaning of the terms nun, sister, monk, priest, and brother. Available at: http://www.catholiceducation.org/en/culture/catholic-contributions/the-meaning-of-the-terms-nun-sister-monk-priest-and-brother.html (Accessed: 17 April 2016).

21st April 2016:

Today I found an article that told the story of Maria Monk who was sexually abused in a reputable convent in Montreal. The story that has been exposed caused a group of anti-Catholics to crusade across North America. The article discusses how nuns from profitable families were often killed or held captive if they were not satisfactory. It goes on to say how they were ‘ordered’ by the priests to have involvement with them and the outcome if they dismissed the ‘order’ then murder took place. The article that I have found is a document about the book that Maria Monk wrote, it talks about how some view her accounts being flawed and inaccurate. Her book was published in 1836, after she had escaped after becoming pregnant and found aid from a hospital for the poor in New York. Maria Monk.

247, valerieo (2015) Religion 331. Available at: http://relg331.umwblogs.org/2015/01/27/the-nuns-story/ (Accessed: 21 April 2016).

“I really believed that the priests were acquainted with my thoughts; and often stood in great awe of them. They often told me they had power to strike me dead at any moment. Maria Monk”

There is another book about a different document from an un-named woman, a 40 year old nun who has written down her story of her abuse when she was fourteen and it continued for a number of years. The book is titled “Giulia and the Wolf: A Story of Sexual Abuse in the Church,”. 

“The memoir is also being published with the backing of the Archdiocese of Milan, one of the largest and most influential in Italy, and a priest, the Rev. Hans Zollner, who is a member of Pope Francis’ panel on fighting clergy sexual abuse, has written the preface.”

McKenna, J. and More (2016) Nun recounts rape, abuse by priest in memoir backed by Catholic church. Available at: http://religionnews.com/2016/03/21/nun-recounts-rape-abuse-priest-memoir-backed-catholic-church/ (Accessed: 21 April 2016).

In an article form ‘The Gurdian’ newspaper in 2001, the sexual abuse that occurs with the  Roman Catholic priests and bishops have been exposing their dominance in over several parts of the globe. Documents from 23 countries of abuse have been made, many of which have occurred in Africa, Ireland, Italy and the United states of America, just to name a few. This ‘dominance’ achieve sexual favours from the nuns that have sometimes resorted in unwanted pregnancy that has happened through the act of rape. The nuns that had fallen pregnant were obliged to leave their congregation for a period of time while the abortion took place then they were welcomed back. According to The Guardian’s document of this account, its said that in one congregation over 29 nun had become pregnant, when the mother superior finally raised the problem with the archbishop at the time she was removed almost instantly from her post.


“What does the Bible say about prostitution? Will God forgive a prostitute?”

As my character was previously a prostitiute I wondered what the Bible said on the ‘Oldest proffession’. The account that I have found is one by Andrew Landson,

“The Bible teaches that sex is a good gift from God to any heterosexual couple who in love and law promise enduring and exclusive fidelity to one another. Sex is God’s gift to every bride and groom, to be unwrapped on the honeymoon and enjoyed throughout the marriage. In short, scripture highly approves of sexual intimacy between a man and a woman for the purposes of pleasure, love and procreation, provided they have committed themselves to one another in the covenant of marriage.”

“The Bible warns against women engaging in prostitution. Leviticus 19:29 states, “Do not degrade your daughter by making her a prostitute”. Prostitution degrades women. Consequently, a woman is not permitted to become a prostitute, and no one is permitted to make her one.”

Forder, G. (no date) Life ministries. Available at: http://lifeministries.org.au/pamphlets.php?content_id=53 (Accessed: 21 April 2016).


In this account I have learned that the Bible is very much against prostitution as I had thought. However it is also stated in the article that if a  woman does become a prostitute then she is to be burned for it as she has disgraced her father and therefor the whole family. Whenever prostitution is discussed in the Bible it is always in regards to filth and adultery as it is unfaithful toward the person you have been wed to. Using a prostitute is also forbidden much like eve and her forbidden apple, people still went to prostitutes knowing what has been written in the Bible.

My next question on this is “What happened when a prostitute turned to religion for redemption?”

I automatically turned to the story of Mary Magdalene as in our minds she is semi-naked but no matter how far you may have fallen you can have redemption. However in the Bible it does not mention that she was a prostitute, her redemption has no support from the witten words in the Bible according to Kristin Swenson account on the subject of Mary Magdalene, it has church support but no backing form the Bible itself.

“Pope Gregory I (d. 604) gave legs to this misinterpretation by delivering a sermon that equated both Mary of Bethany and the anonymous hair-washing sinner woman (Luke 7:36-50) with Mary Magdalene. This portrait also absorbed the story of the unnamed woman caught in adultery (John 7:53-8:11), the combination making the popular image of Mary Magdalene quite different from the biblical depictions. “

In a different document when discussing Mary Magdalene from Biblegateway, it suggests that Luke made a link with two other women, Susanna and Joanna along with other unnamed individuals as those who have been cured from the evil spirits such as ‘the seven devils’ whom we should call ‘the seven demons’ as there is only one devil, much like how people think there is only one God. Mary’s condition that Jesus healed must have been a great deal worse, for it is said in the article that he saw within her the angel who is  a blessing to his own heart. He ordered the spirits out of her. ““Back! back! to your native hell, ye foul spirits of the pit,””. She was then clothed and in her ‘right mind’ after the miracle has taken place.

The story of Mary Magdalene is one that still tells people of the faith that no matter you sin, you can have redemption.

Zondervan (1988) Mary Magdalene – all the women of the bible. Available at: https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/all-women-bible/Mary-Magdalene (Accessed: 21 April 2016).

25th April 2016:

Christmas in Edmundsbury in 1433 was an eventful one, King Henry VI came to stay. He did extend his stay for much longer than anyone had realised, he stayed for four months before he returned home. Events had already been taking place which has been threatening the reign of the English monarchy to come to an abrupt end in France. Henry VI was only twelve when he was crowned.

King Henry VI’s timeline:

Timeline for King Henry VI Historical Timeline 800 – Present
 1422  Henry aged 8 months becomes King of England on the death of his father, Henry V, and then, two months later, King of France on the death of his grandfather, Charles VI.
 1422  John, Duke of Bedford, is appointed Regent of France; Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, becomes Regent of England.
 1429  Henry VI is crowned King of England
 1429  The young peasant girl Joan of Arc begins her campaign to expel the English from France. She inspires the French army which relieves Orleans besieged by English troops.
 1431  The English capture Joan of Arc. She is burned at the stake as a witch and heretic in Rouen on 30 May.
 1431  Henry VI of England is crowned King of France in Paris
 1437  Henry assumes personal rule of England
 1440  Eton college founded giving free education to 70 scholars
 1445  Henry marries Margaret of Anjou
 1453  End of 100 Years’ War. Gascony and Normandy fall to the French. England retains only Calais and The Channel Islands.
 1453  Henry becomes mentally ill. Richard, Duke of York, is made Protector during Henry’s illness
 1453  Battle of Heworth between supporters of the Neville and Percy families marks the beginning of the feud between the Houses of York and Lancaster
 1454  Henry regains his senses but disaffected nobles take matters into their own hands. Supporters of the Dukes of York and Lancaster take sides.
 1455  Beginning of the ‘Wars of the Roses’. Duke of York is dismissed. York raises an army and defeats the King’s Lancastrian forces at the Battle of St. Albans.The Lancastrian leader, the Duke of Somerset, is killed. York takes over the government of England.
 1457  Henry unsuccessfully tries to broker peace between the Yorkists and Lancastrians.
 1459  War is renewed and the Lancastrians are defeated at Blore Heath; the Yorkists are then defeated at Ludford Bridge near Ludlow. Parliament declares York a traitor and he escapes to Ireland.
 1460  Yorkist army led by Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, defeats Lancastrians at the Battle of Northampton. Henry VI is captured and his wife, Margaret, escapes to Scotland. Richard of York is again Protector.
 1460  Margaret raises a Lancastrian army in the north and defeats and kills Richard of York at Wakefield. Henry VI captured by the Yorkists at Northampton. Earl of Warwick takes London for the Yorkists.
 1461  Yorkists win Battle of Mortimers Cross. Queen Margaret marches her army South, defeats Earl of Warwick at St Albans, and frees Henry. Edward, son of Richard of York, defeats Margaret’s Lancastrian forces on 29 March at the Battle of Towton – the largest and bloodiest battle ever on British soil when 28,000 lose their lives. Margaret and Henry flee to Scotland. Henry is deposed by Edward who declares himself King Edward IV
 1462  Lancastrian revolts are suppressed.
 1464  Warwick defeats Lancastrians at Battle of Hexham; Henry VI is captured and brought to the Tower of London.
 1469  Warwick falls out with Edward IV, and defeats him at Edgecote. They are later reconciled but Warwick is banished. He makes peace with Margaret, returns to England with an army, and Edward flees to Flanders. Henry VI is restored to the throne.
 1471  Edward returns to England and defeats and kills Warwick at the Battle of Barnet. Margaret is defeated at the Battle of Tewkesbury; her son Edward, Prince of Wales, heir to the Lancastrian throne is killed in battle.
 1471  Henry is murdered by being stabbed to death in the Tower of London.


King Henry VI (no date) Available at: http://www.britroyals.com/kings.asp?id=henry6 (Accessed: 25 April 2016).