Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Sudbury Society was formed in 1973 after a successful campaign to save the Corn Exchange from developers. However, in protecting its ancient centre the town has not shut itself off from modern development. As the town has expanded (to a population in 2004 of 11800) modern retail and industrial developments have been added on sites close to the centre. The eighteenth and nineteenth century houses near the town centre have been added too by modern developments.
Sudbury was a borough until the local government reorganisation of 1974. Since then it has been a civil parish; being an urban area the parish council and its chair are known as the Town Council and Town Mayor respectively
Sudbury's history dates back into the age of the Saxons, the town's earliest mention is in 799 CE, when Aelfhun, Bishop of Dunwich, died in the town.
In 1086, the town is also mentioned in the Domesday Book back, as a market town where the local people came to barter their goods. The weaving and silk industries prospered for centuries during the The Later Middle Ages. As the main town in the area, Sudbury prospered too, and many great houses and churches were built, giving the town a major historical legacy.
The Woolsack was originally stuffed with wool from the Sudbury area, a sign of both the importance of the wool industry and of the wealth of the donors.
One citizen of Sudbury, Archbishop Simon Sudbury showed that the not even the Tower of London guarantees safety. On 14 June 1381 guards opened the Tower's doors and allowed revolting peasants to enter. Sudbury, inventor of the Poll Tax. was dragged to Tower Hill and beheaded. His body was afterwards buried in Canterbury Cathedral, but his skull is kept in St. Gregory's with St. Peter's Church, one of the three medieval churches in Sudbury.
During the eighteenth century Sudbury became famous for its local artists. John Constable painted in the area, especially the River Stour. In 1727 Sudbury became the birthplace of the painter, Thomas Gainsborough, who was educated at the local Grammar School. His birthplace, Gainsborough House, is now a museum to his work and is open to the public. It houses many valuable pictures, and some of his family possessions.
In 1913 a statue of Gainsborough was unveiled in the Town centre, outside St Peter's Church, on The Market Hill.
The railway arrived in Sudbury in 1847. The town escaped the Beeching Axe of the 1960s and maintained its rail link with London, although it became the terminus of the Stour Valley Line, and many villages further up the River lost their rail stations. Road links with the major cities of the area are being improved, and the river has fallen into disuse as a commercial artery.
Once a busy and important river port, the last industrial building on the riverside has been converted in the very successful Quay Theatre.
However the river is no longer subject to the local ordinance of 9 November 1893, when the Town Council decided that bathing in the river was to be banned after 8 am, except at Dobs Hole, where screens had been erected.
- Thomas Gainsborough
- John Constable – a local if not a native of the town
- Simon Sudbury, Archbishop of Canterbury
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