The Friends of the Unitarian Meeting House invite you to a birthday party for this magnificent landmark on Friday 20th March from 6.30 onwards. As one of the vital original contributors to the restoration of this building in 1991, we would like you to share this celebration with us. It’s not a major anniversary, only 309 years, but still a grand age and any excuse for a party. . . There is no entry fee, but donations will be gratefully received.

There will be wine and bites, followed by a short concert by members of the Bury based Arcadian Consort. During the celebration, the Friends will be launching their 2021 calendar with photos of the UMH and also a monograph by conservation architect Peter Riddington: ­ A Very Special Building.

It was on 21st March 1711 that the non-conformists in Bury St Edmunds decided to proceed with the building of this meeting house, the town’s oldest surviving brick building. Nathaniel Lloyd said of it: “It would be difficult to find a Non-conformist Chapel of this or any date which could vie with this building built for worship. The designing and execution of details are all excellent and, architecturally, it is the finest building in the town.”

The Arcadian Consort came together in Bury St. Edmunds in 2008. In the words of organiser Mike Feinson, the purpose was “to explore the vast range of music available for recorder consorts and to demonstrate what a delightful sound a quality consort of recorder players can produce.” And a delightful sound they will make for us – performing music from the time of the building’s construction to the modern day (with, perhaps, a TV theme thrown in).

The calendar for 2021 includes historic and modern colour photographs of the Unitarian Meeting House and significant Bury events, such as participation in the Hidden Gardens and Heritage Open Days.

The monograph by Peter Riddington is an exploration of why the building is special:

“The UMH is highly significant in all pertinent ways:

  • it has an important cultural history which reflects the history of the town and the country;
  • it is an extremely rare survivor of an early non-conformist building from a troubled period of English history;
  • architecturally it is a rare example of a very finely designed and built English baroque building and also remarkably intact;
  • but most of all, it is a building which is deeply loved by very many people who enjoy seeing it and using and long may they do so.”

The monograph is illustrated by colour photographs with information endorsing the above points.

Both the calendar and monograph will be available for sale at the birthday party.

We hope that many members of the Bury Town Trust will join us for a delightful early-evening birthday party.