14 Unusual Facts about The Suffolk Town of Sudbury
28th February 2017
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14 Rather Unusual Facts About Sudbury, Suffolk


Decapitated Arch Bishops, mummified cats and corrupt politicians. Sudbury, the small but mighty market town in West Suffolk has had quite a checkered past. Here are 14 facts about the town you may not know 


  1. Former Chancellor and Arch Bishop, Simon Sudbury’s severed head is in St Gregory's Church. Why was his head removed from his body? He got on the wrong side of the Peasants Revolt in the 14th Century. His head was decapitated and ended up on a stick, outside the Tower of London. It was eventually returned to Sudbury, where you can still visit today. 
  2. There’s a mummified cat in the lobby of the Mill Hotel. It was seen as good luck to wall up cats. When the cat was sold to a nearby shop during renovations, the shop caught on fire. Only the mummified cat remained unscathed. It was therefore believed, the cat came with some supernatural power. There’s a bit more info here
  3. Sudbury was the inspiration for Dicken’s fictional town Eatanswill, in the Pickwick Papers. Eatanswill was a Rotten Borough, so probably something Sudbury shouldn't be too proud of.
  4. Back in Medieval Times, Sudbury had a dedicated hospital for Lepers, St Leonards Hospital just off Melford Road, now called Colney Close. Colney was the name of the hospital’s founders, who unfortunately died from the disease.
  5. Sudbury’s history is closely weaved (sorry) with the textile industry and  was once the largest producer of silk in Europe. This is possibly still the case today. Many members of the Royal Family have worn silk from Sudbury in their wedding dresses and coronation gowns. Michelle Obama is a fan of Vanners Silk, having the dress she wore for her husband’s presidential  inauguration made from silk weaved in Sudbury
  6. Although it’s impossible to prove, but it’s highly likely the first American Star-Spangled Flag was made in Sudbury, possibly in Cross Street, Sudbury. During the 18th Century, a clothier and very successful business man called Thomas Griggs, had the monopoly on flag bunting and developed close ties with America silk exporters.
  7. It’s not just silk that was made in Sudbury. Bricks made in Ballingdon helped construct the Royal Albert Hall and museums in South Kensington. Ballingdon wasn't the only brickworks in Sudbury, with bricks being made in Bulmer and around Chilton and sent around the country.
  8. Sudbury has a colourful political history. As mentioned earlier, the town was Dicken’s inspiration for Eatonsville. He stayed in Sudbury, whilst working as a journalist and wasn’t overly fond of the place. Corruption at the time was rife, with bribery and rigged elections. A true Rotten Borough. During the 1840s, David Ochterlon Dyce Sombre, was the country's first mixed race person to be elected into British Parliament. However, his political career was short lived, due to bribery of the election process, followed by his wife declaring him insane.
  9. In 101 Dalmatians,  Pongo and his friends run by the River Stour to Sudbury, where they have a drink at the water trough outside St Peters Church
  10. Apparently there are loads of tunnels running under Sudbury, some of which date back to prehistoric times.
  11. Red Barn Murder victim Maria Marten and her killer lover, lived together in Plough Lane
  12. Ballingdon Hall was physically moved in 1972 from the bottom of Ballingdon Hill to the Top. The move was witness by 10,000 spectators and filmed for television
  13. Classic 1980s TV series, Lovejoy was often filmed in Sudbury, as was this rather excellent Mars Bar advert from the same decade
  14. There are loads of ghost stories, from heartbroken Nuns in Borley, to ghouls in haunted hotels. There have been sightings of the undead at Abbas Hall too. Hardly surprising for a town with so much history


I'd like to thank the good people of the Facebook Group Sudbury, Suffolk UK, for their input and for sharing their facts and stories. If you have any other facts about our town, please leave me a comment below or drop me an email at sudbury@thebestof.co.uk. I’d love to hear them.

About the Author

Penny W

Member since: 17th March 2014

Hello! I'm Penny from thebestof Sudbury, shouting about the best local businesses from Hadleigh through the Clare. When I'm not doing that, you'll find me knitting socks or tending to my 6 chickens

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