Chapter 14 of Pickwick Papers charlesdickenspage.com/pickwick.html is so full of incident in Bury St Edmunds – and the Angel – that Dickens titled
it: "Too full of adventure to be briefly described."
"Beg your pardon, sir,' said Sam, suddenly breaking off in his loquacious discourse.’Is this Bury St. Edmunds?' 'It is,' replied Mr. Pickwick. The coach rattled through the well-paved streets of a handsome little town, of thriving and cleanly appearance, and stopped before a large inn situated in a wide open street, nearly facing the old abbey. 'And this,' said Mr. Pickwick, looking up, 'is the Angel! We alight here, Sam. But some caution is necessary. Order a private room, and do not mention my name. You understand.' In half an hour, (with Sam’s help) Mr. Pickwick was seated at a very satisfactory dinner."
Later Mr. Pickwick was confined to his room in the inn with chronic rheumatism and here he received the news from Dodson and Fogg that Mrs Bardell intended to bring an action against him for breach of promise. It was here in the stable-yard of the Angel that Sam Weller encountered the mulberry-liveried Job Trotter and innocently made Mr. Pickwick once more the victim of the devious Jingle.
Dickens knew the Angel well. He first stayed here in 1835 when he was reporting the Suffolk Parliamentary Elections for the Morning Chronicle. He stayed here again in 1859 when, as an established and famous author, he gave readings in the Athenaeum which forms one side of this beautiful Georgian square. From the inn in he wrote: "Last night I read Copperfield at Bury St Edmunds to a very fine audience. I don’t think a word – not to say an idea – was lost".
Following another reading tour and whilst styaying in the Angel in 1861 he wrote: "we had a splendid hall last night, and that I think Nickleby tops all the readings! Somehow it seems to have got in it, by accident, exactly the qualities best suited to the purpose, and it went last night, not only with roars, but with general hilarity and pleasure that I have never surpassed".
The Angel on the old fairground slope known as Angel Hill, was built as a hospice for the Abbey of Edmundsbury in 1452. The present Georgian building dates from 1799. Today there is a warm relaxed atmosphere enhanced by an interesting collection of antiques and art.