Next time you take a stroll around the glorious market town of Bury St Edmunds, look out for these peculiarities, embedded in the brickwork.

The Ceramic Doll

Hidden amongst the flint and mortar of the north wall of St Edmundsbury’s abbey is a curious doll. It was discovered in 1984 after English Heritage took over the site; as workmen cleaned the north precinct wall, they came across the ceramic statuette, approximately 5 inches high, set back in an arched niche.

It is a female figure, dressed in eighteenth-century costume, complete with petticoat and bonnet. It’s arms are crossed over an open book against its chest.
The niche, 10 feet high, is engraved with the date ‘1777’, though this could be wrong due to the passage of time and the ravages of the seasons.
The doll is thankfully high enough that it is protected from damage.

Balloon in a Wall

Amongst the knapped flint of No.1 Westgate Street you will find a small drawing of a balloon, shielded behind glass – most unusual!

It shows a hot air balloon with with two flags flying from the basket, dated ‘1858’ or ‘1868’ and initialled ‘W.S.M’
No. 1 was home to Lot Jackman, a distinguished builder who came from Norfolk to work as a foreman for Thomas Farrow, the restorer of the Norman Tower and builder of Savings Bank House. 
The building has all sorts of embellishments and building styles on it, including, under the eaves of the gable end, “waste not want not” written in stone, with a pair of masonic dividers, also in stone.
The only connection to early balloon flight that Bury has was the flight taken by Captain Poole in 1785. Watched by thousands, he took off from the abbey and flew 23 miles, as the crow flies, to Earl Soham.
Today, Nowton Park is the place from which balloon flights operate in the area. Wizard Balloons take you over picturesque Suffolk villages, like Lavenham and Long Melford, offering fantastic views of fabulous country houses, such as Ickworth HouseKentwell Hall and Melford Hall.

A Face in Torment

Another puzzling piece, embedded this time in the flint wall of a barn at No. 52 Abbeygate Street. The grimacing face is carved into stone at the rear of the main, Grade II listed building, which is now the Cote Brasserie.

Stay near Bury St Edmunds today: Jermyn Cottage is a sweet, countryside escape in nearby Rushbrooke, sleeping 2 (one well behave dog welcome!). Families of 4 will enjoy the rural retreat that is The Ryes, 7 miles away in Lawshall. Slightly further field near Stanton is Oak Lodge, a fantastically stylish property for 2.

Information sourced from ‘Secret Bury St Edmunds’ by Martin Taylor