Sudbury in Derbyshire, situated in the lower Dove valley is a former estate village and farming community, dominated for hundreds of years by its relationship with the Vernon family of Sudbury Hall.
Today Sudbury has a population of around 500, a similar figure to that of 100 years ago. A moderb bypass, constructed in 1972 brought a measure of peace and tranquility to the largely 17th century village. To the north one can see Sudbury Open Prison which holds about 500 inmates and has around 200 staff. The inmates are classed as category'd', some of the least dangerous of britain's prison population.
The most impressive building in Sudbury of course Sudbury Hall, built by George Vernon in the second half of the 17th century. It is a redbrick building, now owned by the National Trust who first opened it to the public in 1972. One of the many features restored by the trust is the small dome, crowned with a golden ball on the roof of the hall, which acts as a beacon for travellers. It contains many fine rooms, the most interesting being, the Long Gallery and the Main Hall with its beautiful staircase, featured in the BBC's Pride and Predudice. The formal garden and meadows at the rear of the house lead down to the lakeside
Next to Sudbury Hall is the Museum of Childhood and a reconstructed Victorian schoolroom and nursery with old toys and games. During school holidays or by prior arrangement the National Trust runs regular activities for children such as treasure hunts, craft days and wildlife days.
Also next to the hall but partly hidden from view, stands the church of All Saints, which was recorded in Domesday but has been extensively restored in later years. The east window was given by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in memory of George Edward Anson, brother of the then rector. More recently a new stained glass window has been donated on behalf of all the children who were evacuated to Sudbury from Manchester at the start of WW2.
The sweeping curve of the road through the village is lined on the south side by terraced cottages, which apart from the interiors, have changed little since the 19th century. A lane to the south takes one past the Victorian butchers shop to the school built in 1831 by the 4th Lord Vernon and still in use as a school. Lower down farm buildings have become blacksmiths and joiner's workshops, whilst opposite, still in use is the local butcher's slaughterhouse.
On the north side of the main road stands the Vernon Arms, an old coaching Inn built in 1671 and bearing the Vernon Crest above the entrance. Here is also the village shop cum post office. At the rear of the shop, where bread was once baked, the warehouses have been converted into a modern medical centre.
A strong community feeling still exists. Thriving clubs, including cricket and football, compete in the idyllic settings of the sports field opposite the hall. In equally attractive surroundings is the bowling green and clubhouse.
See also :
Photos of Sudbury and Sudbury Hall at Derbyshire Photographs
For opening times at Sudbury Hall see Sudbury Hall