Today (Sunday 4 September) I appeared again on Jon Wright’s Sunday breakfast show on BBC Radio Suffolk, this time to talk about my new book The Abbey of Bury St Edmunds: History, Legacy and Discovery which will be published on 8 September. You can listen here at 01:22:00. The interview was recorded on 31 August in the ruins of the crypt and chapter house, and snippets were broadcast on Thursday (here at 54:48). There is a short video of me in the ruins here.
In the interview, I explained that the new book is the first to tell the complete story of the Abbey from foundation to dissolution, and expressed my hope that the book will make people already familiar with the Abbey much better informed about it. The sheer size of the Abbey Church – at least 13,700 square metres – is not appreciated by many people, and made it the largest complete church in the world at the time it was demolished (St Peter’s Basilica, which is bigger, was just being built). I explained how the Abbey accrued vast wealth from the donations of pilgrims and from landholdings as far afield as Northamptonshire, Essex, London and even Normandy, but suggested that the Abbey gave far more to the local area than it ever took. Where it had been a major royal centre, the dissolution turned Bury into a marginal provincial town, and the town’s economy did not recover until the eighteenth century.
I am launching the book at St Mary’s Church, Bury St Edmunds at 5pm on Thursday 8 September.