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Sudbury, Suffolk

Historical Description

Sudbury, a municipal borough and market-town in Suffolk, 16 miles S from Bury St Edmunds, and 56 by road and 58 by rail from London. The town stands on the left bank of the navigable Stour, and has a station on the Stour Valley branch of the G.E.R. It is an ancient place, and was known to the Saxons as Suthberie or Sudberi, had a mint at Domesday, acquired afterwards a college, an Augustinian friary, a Dominican friary, a Benedictine cell, and a house of the Knights Hospitallers, and was one of the first towns selected by Edward III. for the settlement of Flemings, in order to the introduction of woollen manufacture. It numbers among its natives Gainsborough the painter and Enfield, author of the "Speaker," and it gives the title of Baron to the Duke of Grafton. The town was incorporated in 1554 by Queen Mary, and fresh charters were granted during the Protectorate, and during the reign of Charles II. It is now governed by a corporation consisting of a mayor, 4 aldermen, and 12 councillors, and the corporation act as the urban district council. The town is the head of a union, and it has a commission of the peace and a separate court of quarter sessions. It sent two members to Parliament from 1562 until 1844, when it was disfranchised. The public buildings include a town-hall, .1 corn exchange, a large hospital supported by voluntary contributions, a literary and mechanics' institute, and a hall opened in 1887, which is [ licensed for the performance of stage plays. The workhouse stands on the banks of the Stour, and is a large building of red brick capable of accommodating over 400 inmates. The cemetery in the Newton Road, about a quarter of a mile from the town, has an area of about 6 acres, and contains two mortuary chapels. The industries include the manufacture of silk, velvet, stays, cocoa-nut matting, flour milling, malting on a large scale, and lime-burning. A market for corn and cattle is held on Thursday, and there is a general market on Saturday. The fairs, which were formerly held in March and July, have been abolished. The borough has an area of 1925 acres, and a population of 7059. It is divided into four parishes- viz. All Saints, a vicarage with Ballingdon-cum-Brundon annexed, the rectory of St Gregory with the vicarage of St Peter, and the parish of St Bartholomew, formerly an extra-parochial tract. The church of All Saints is a fine ancient building of flint and rubble in the Perpendicular style, consisting of chancel, nave, aisles, and a western embattled tower. The church of St Gregory is an ancient and interesting building in the Perpendicular style. Part of it was erected by Simon of Sudbury, archbishop of Canterbury (1375-81), who was beheaded by the followers of Wat Tyler in 1381. A skull, said to be that of the archbishop, is still shown in the vestry of the church. The body of the archbishop is interred in Canterbury cathedral. The church contains a tablet to Thomas Carter, a local benefactor, with a curious inscription; and its modern font is covered by an ancient " spire " of tabernacled work, one of the most perfect examples in the country. The church of St Peter is a building of flint and rubble in the Perpendicular style, with a lofty main arcade and some fine woodwork in the chancel screens. It has seven stained windows, and its tower has emblems of the four Evangelists at the corners and smaller figures between, with hands raised in prayer. The living of All Saints is of the net value of £207 with residence, in the gift of Simeon's Trustees. The living of St Gregory is of the net value of £250 with residence, in the gift of the Bishop of Ely, within whose diocese the town is situated. There is a Roman Catholic chapel erected in 1893, with a priest's house, convent, and school, a Primitive Methodist, two Baptist, and two Congregational chapels, and a Friends' meeting-house.

Sudbury or Southern Parliamentary Division of Suffolk was formed under the Redistribution of Seats Act of 1885, and returns one member to the House of Commons. Population, 55,638. The division includes the following:-Boxford-Assington, Boxford, Bures (St Mary), Edwardston, Groton, Milden, Nayland, Newton, Polstead, Stoke-by-Nayland, Wissington; Hadleigh-Aldham, Bildeston, Brettenham, Chelsworth, Elmsett, Hadleigh, Hadleigh Hamlet, Hitcham, Kersey, Kettlebaston, Layham, Lindsey, Naughton, Nedging, Semer, Thorpe Morieux, Wattisham, Whatfield; Melford-Acton, Alpheton, Boxted, Brent Eleigh, Cavendish, Chilton, Cockfieid, Cornard (Great), Cornard (Little), Glemsford, Hartest, Lavenham, Lawshall, Melford, Monk's Eleigh, Preston, Shimpling, Somerton, Stanstead, Waldingfield (Great), Waldingfield (Little); Risbridge - Barnardiston, Bradley (Great), Bradley (Little), Clare, Denston, Haverhill, Hawkedon, Hundon, Kedington, Monk's Risbridge, Poslingford, Stansfield, Stoke-by-Clare, Straddishall, Thurlow (Great), Thurlow (Little), Withersfield, Wixoe, Wratting (Great), Wratting (Little); Newmarket (part of)-Cowlinge, Lidgate, Ousden; Thingoe and Thedwestry (part of)-Brockley, Chedburgh, Chevington, Depden, Hargrave, Rede, Whepstead, Wickhambrook; Sudbury, municipal borough (the part in Suffolk).

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountySuffolk 
Poor Law unionSudbury 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Sudbury from the following:

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Suffolk is available to browse.


Online maps of Sudbury are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Suffolk papers online:

Postal districtCO10
Post TownSudbury