The site of the now ruined Bury St Edmunds Abbey has been in religious use since around 633 when King Sigebert, first Christian king of the East Angles, established a religious community here. In 903 the remains of King Edmund were interred here, 33 years after he was martyred by the Danes. In 1020 King Canute replaced the community of secular priests with 20 Benedictine monks which was increased by a further sixty by William the Conqueror, who also increased the monastery's privileges. In 1095 St Edmund's remains were re-interred, this time in a stone church which replaced an earlier, timber church. The first half of the 12th century saw the construction of the cloister, chapter house, refectory, dormitory, infirmary, and, walls to the forecourt. In around 1150 fire caused damage to all of these except the cloister, and they were subsequently rebuilt. In the second half of the 12th century the church continued to be extended and the abbot's and guest houses were rebuilt. The 14th century was eventful resulting from disputes between the monks and townspeople and culminated in a riot in 1327. Fire caused great damage in 1465 to the church and refectory, and they were subsequently repaired.
In 1540 Henry VIII dissolved the abbey, which was considered to be of considerable value. Sold to John Eyer and then Thomas Badyby, all valuable materials were stripped of the abbey buildings, with the exception of the abbot's palace, which survived as a house until 1720. Between the 17th and early 19th centuries houses were built into the west front of the abbey church, some of which still survive.
Today, the remains comprise the church, crypt, crossing, transepts and east bays of the nave. Around the cloister, fragments of the parlour, refectory, chapter house, treasury, warming room and night stair can be recognised. North east of the refectory, remains of the Queen's Chamber, abbot's chapel and larder can be seen.
The site is under the guardianship of English Heritage.