Update July 2021 – monthly meetings and coach trips remain suspended.

Welcome to the website of the Sudbury History Society.
This site is provided for the benefit of all those interested in the history of Sudbury through its buildings and people, some of whom have become household names.

This site features mainly our recent and forthcoming activities. There is a wealth of information about the history of Sudbury, including its people and buildings, on our older site: www.sudburyhistorysociety.co.ukThis is best accessed via the Sudbury’s History page.

Coronavirus Message, 29 July 2020

SHS – Covid-19

Sadly we are still unable to hold our monthly Sudbury History Society talks at the Scout Hut near the Quay due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic and social distancing measures. Safety conditions permitting, we hope to resume the monthly talks in due course, to welcome back members and open our doors to new members. We will keep you posted of any change in the situation. Coach Trips are also suspended.

Update July 2021 – monthly meetings and coach trips remain suspended.

VE Day 75 Virtual Celebrations – Friday 8th May 2020

This information is from Sudbury Town Council.

Friday 8th May 2020 Virtual Celebrations of the 75th anniversary of VE Day

2.45 pm The Last Post followed by two minutes silence and Reveille

2.50 pm The Mayor, Robert Spivey –

Tribute to the Millions

The Nations Toast to the Heroes of World War II – “To those who gave so much we thank you”

2.58 pm Town Crier, Robert Drawbridge –

A Cry for Peace Around the World

3 pm      Town Piper Tricia Drawbridge –

The Piping of “Battle’s O’er” and “VE 75 Years”

Join us from the comfort of your homes and stay safe by visiting www.Sudburytowncouncil.co.uk/VEDay75 .

See also the poster .

As you may know, the Early May Bank Holiday this year is moved from Monday 4th May to Friday 8th May in order to celebrate VE Day. Many diaries and calendars were already printed before the decision was announced.

March 2020 Meeting

At our March meeting we were told that the next meeting, on Wednesday 8th April, would be the AGM. Nominations for the committee were requested – see 2020-agm-notice.

The subscription for the year from April 2020 is increased to £12. To apply or re-apply for membership, see shs-membership-form-2020.

A list of the proposed outings for 2020 was distributed – see coach-trips-2020.

The major part of the meeting was a talk by 94 year old Len Manning. He concentrated mainly on his experiences during the second world war, and brought many memorabilia to show us.

Rear gunner Len Manning survived after his Lancaster bomber was shot down by a German night-fighter over northern France on his third ever mission, targeting a railway goods yard in 1944. Len, who was 19 at the time, had to bail out at 4,000ft (1,200m) with a burning parachute after his plane was hit by the Germans. Four of the crew were killed. Len avoided capture and was hidden by the French Resistance until the country was liberated.

After the break, Graeme Pulham spoke of his time in occupied Jersey during WW2.

Syon House Outing

Sudbury History Society

Outing to Syon House, Thursday 24th October 2019

Syon House in west London is one of the last great houses of London, and has been in the family of the present owners, Ralph Percy, 12th Duke of Northumberland, for more than 400 years.

Profoundly historic, the House holds a wealth of art within its grand classical interiors, while the Park and Gardens feel like deep countryside, although barely nine miles from Charing Cross.

Syon Park contains a great variety in a relatively small area, from Gardens and Arboretum through to parkland and the unique tidal water meadows.

We enjoyed sunshine during our journey there, but rain started as we arrived. Some of us opted for a coffee or early lunch in the nearby café.

The main house was a short walk away. There we discovered a multitude of treasures. The basement display outlines the history of the Bridgettine Abbey of Syon, established in 1415 by Henry V and dissolved by Henry VIII in 1539.

During the remainder of the 16th century, the Abbey complex was transformed into a grand private house. Two hundred years later, the Scottish architect Robert Adam was commissioned to create a series of striking classical interiors, filled with antiquities shipped from Italy.  Adam was not able to change the interior layout of the House, and so used a number of architectural devices to create a suitable impression. These rooms formed the major part of our tour of the house.

The Great Hall, the Ante Room, the State Dining Room, the Red Drawing Room, and the 136ft Long Gallery were sumptuously decorated and filled with paintings and furniture. In Princess Victoria’s Bedroom we learnt that the 3rd Duchess was given the coveted role of being Princess Victoria’s official governess, and in doing so prepared the young princess for her future role as Queen.

In the 18th century, the landscape architect Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown transformed the grounds surrounding the house, creating the open views characteristic of the English Landscape movement.

Some of us visited the enormous 19th century Great Conservatory, where the use of cast iron allowed for a very large area of glass, and a remarkably delicate structure. It contains a wide variety of plants, including extensive grape vines.

The poor weather failed to deter at least one member of the group from exploring the extensive grounds, walking across the eighteenth-century iron bridge and around the lake. On the way, the viewing platform looks over the Tide Meadow, 40 acres of tall grass washland, a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The Tide Meadow is the only significant section of unembanked riverside on the Tidal Thames, and as a result it floods at high tide, creating a unique and special habitat and a historical artefact in its own right. There have been few changes to these meadows in 400 years.

There was time to enjoy a welcome pot of tea with cake in the warm, dry café before the journey home. Frustratingly, as we queued on the M25 following an accident ahead, the low sun emerged from the clouds to illuminate the Essex landscape. Nevertheless, a most enjoyable outing.

Report above by Malcolm Snow, incorporating text from www.syonpark.co.uk , where more information can be found.

A slideshow of photos from John Beavan:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A slideshow of photos from Malcolm Snow:

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October 2019 Meeting

At our October meeting, we heard an illustrated talk from Adrian Walters, Clerk/Ranger of Sudbury Common Lands Charity. The charity was established in 1897. The rangers and volunteers maintain a unique riverside habitat with a wide range of flora and fauna, including some rarities. See more at http://sudburycommonlandscharity.org/ .

After the interval, Barry Wall spoke about Fullingpit Meadows and links with John Knight of Gosfield Hall.

Information about the October and November outings was announced. See the Outings page.

September 2019 Meeting

At our meeting on Wednesday 11 September 2019, Barry Wall gave us a talk based on a recent episode of Fake or Fortune, entitled A Venetian View (Series 8 episode 4).

The team investigates a beautiful 18th-century Venetian view in the style of Canaletto. Could this be a work by one of the Italian masters, either Francesco Guardi or Michele Marieschi?

The programme can be seen on BBC TWO next Wednesday at 00:05, and is available on BBC iplayer until August 2020. There is a summary of the programme at www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0007m6z.

Barry also thanked members for the gift he had received at the August gathering. He used it to acquire two books. One was Angel Roofs of East Anglia. He mentioned the splendid roofs at St Mary’s, Bury St Edmunds, and at Westminster Hall in London, as well as numerous other examples in our region.

June 2019 Meeting

At our meeting on Wednesday 12 June 2019, Barry Wall gave us a talk about the street scene in Sudbury in the 1730’s, as the schoolboy Thomas Gainsborough would have experienced it while living at the family home that is now Gainsborough’s House, on Gainsborough Street, and before he moved to London.

Barry also spoke about the presentation of the 2 volumes of Hugh Belsey’s books on Gainsborough to Sudbury Library the previous day, on behalf of the Sudbury History Society. He read the press release to us.

Chairman Graeme Pulham gave details of outings planned for this year – see the Outings page.

The annual “Summer Bash” on Wednesday 14 August will be at Shrubs Farm, Lamarsh as before. The cost is £3 and members are asked to sign up to bring an item of food.