Entry to the Cathedral is free, with donations very much appreciated.

Opening times

The Cathedral is open for visits. Our opening times for visitors are:
10.00 am to 5.30 pm Mondays to Fridays
10.00 am to 4.00 pm Saturdays and
12.30 pm to 3.00 pm on Sundays (see below for details of closures).


We look forward to welcoming you. We would ask that you continue to respect all visitors, some who will be anxious and others who will be more comfortable with the relaxation of restrictions.


The Cathedral Shop and Pilgrims’ Kitchen are open.


All of our services are open to the public and many are also livestreamed. For details see here.


Please note that from time to time, the Cathedral will be closed to visitors because other activities are taking place. Particularly at the moment, whilst some COVID restrictions remain in place, we are not always able to open the building to visitors if another event is happening in the Cathedral.

A brief introduction


Find out the story of the Cathedral.

Visiting with children


You might like to download our Discovery Detective trail

There are other activity ideas here.

Visiting by bike


The Cathedral is part of the Cathedrals Cycle Route.  Find out more here.


You are welcome to visit by bike. Do make use of our cycle parking. We have bike racks and a bike shed located on the north side of the cathedral near the Cathedral Office (Abbey House, IP33 1LS).


Our friendly staff at Pilgrims’ Kitchen will be happy to replenish your water bottle. they might also try to tempt you to refuel with some tasty refreshments.

Visiting Groups

We are pleased to be able offer group visits again but they must be pre-booked.

If you are interested in bringing a group, do please email.

Guided Tours

Regular Guided Tours have finished for this year (they are available from May to September).


If you would like a personal tour, please contact the Visitor Experience Manager.

Ancient Library and Treasury Tours

These are exclusive tours for a maximum of four people. Full details here.

They must be pre-booked by email.

60 Second Snippets

In place of our Guided Tours programme for 2020 we offer you a series of 60-second snippets which tell you a little bit more about the Cathedral.


  1. American Connections – find out more here

2. Saint Edmund – further information here

3. The Millennium Tower – listen here

4. Stephen Dykes Bower – find out more about this architect’s impact on St Edmundsbury Cathedral here.

5. St James – discover the reason for the dedication here

6. Vaulted Ceiling – read more here

7. The Nave (Part 1) – hear about John Wastell’s Nave here

8. The Nave (Part 2) – discover more about the Nave here

9. Cathedral Grounds – explore the Cathedral gardens here

10. Suffolk connections – the County seen through the Cathedral kneelers here

11. It’s all in the detail – study some of the detail of Stephen Dykes Bower’s work here


Originally dedicated to St Denys, the Parish Church of St James has grown and developed over the centuries, becoming the Cathedral of the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich in 1914. Recently the Millennium Project has seen the completion of the building with the addition of a tower, new cloisters and chapels.

History of the Church

1020 – Foundation of the Benedictine Abbey
1065 – 97 – Abbot Baldwin builds St Denys’ Church – Abbot Anselm replaces St Denys’ with a church dedicated to St James
1400s – New chancel built
1503 – 51 – New nave built, designed by John Wastell, Master Mason and resident of Bury St Edmunds
1711 – Medieval chancel replaced
1860 – 70 – New chancel built, work of Sir Gilbert Scott. Pitched roof added to the Nave
1914 – Creation of the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich (previously West Suffolk was in the Diocese of Ely and East Suffolk in the Diocese of Norwich) – St James’ Church becomes a Cathedral
1943 – Stephen Dykes Bower appointed as Architect for the Cathedral
1959 – 61 – West Porch and cloisters added
1963 – 70 – New Quire, a Lady Chapel, St Edmund’s Chapel and the crossing added

1988 – Stephen Dykes Bower retires – Alan Rome succeeds as Cathedral Architect
1988 – 90 – Cathedral Centre and Song School built
1994 – Stephen Dykes Bower dies and leaves £2 million to a Trust for the completion of the Cathedral
1997 – Millennium Commission grants £5.15 million for the completion of the Cathedral to the design of Hugh Mathew
1998 – Appeal launched to raise the remaining funds for the Project
1999 – Work starts on the North Transept
2005 – Millennium Tower completed
2008 – East Cloisters opened
2009 – Consecration of the Chapel of the Transfiguration, Crypt and Cloisters
2010 – Completion of vaulted ceiling under the Tower