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Bury St Edmunds market hall and theatre (later the Market Cross), Suffolk: executed designs for the building, 1775 (3)

Signed and dated

  • 1775


In January 1775 Adam was commissioned to rebuild and enlarge the market hall and theatre at Bury St Edmunds. This was completed in 1780, having been executed in accordance with Adam’s extant drawings. It was built by a local stonemason called Thomas Singleton (1715-92) who also carved the decorative relief panels on the exterior. According to Pevsner and Radcliffe it is ‘the finest post-medieval building at Bury’. The design is cruciform in plan, and gave an open, rusticated, arcaded ground storey for a covered market, with a theatre above.

The ground-storey was enclosed in the 1840s to provide shops, and at the same time the theatre above was converted into a town hall, and the windows on the north front were filled in. If an Adam interior was originally installed on the first storey, this was lost during its conversion in the 1840s, or during a fire in 1908. The arcades on the west and north sides were re-opened and glazed as shop fronts in 1970-71, and the former theatre (later town hall) on the first storey has been used as an art gallery since 1972.

A.T. Bolton, The works in architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, Index p. 5; N. Pevsner, and E. Radcliffe, The buildings of England: Suffolk, 1974, p. 55; D. King, The complete works in architecture of Robert and James Adam and unbuilt Adam, 2001, Volume I, pp. 32, 48-50; S. Colman, 'The de Carle Family: stonemasons of Bury St Edmunds', SIAH Proceedings, Volume XL, part 4, 2004, pp. 466-479; ‘Market Cross, Bury St Edmunds’ British listed buildings online

Frances Sands, 2014



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Contents of Bury St Edmunds market hall and theatre (later the Market Cross), Suffolk: executed designs for the building, 1775 (3)