Great shop­ping, great food and drink, and lots of fas­ci­nat­ing his­tory


SUD­BURY is a vi­brant mar­ket town at the heart of the Stour Val­ley. The river runs through it and has al­ways played an im­por­tant part in the town’s for­tunes.

Sud­bury has a long her­itage in the weav­ing and silk in­dus­tries, which was par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant dur­ing the late mid­dle ages, when nearby mar­ket towns like Laven­ham were ben­e­fit­ing from the wool trade. Part of Sud­bury’s his­toric wealth comes from its lo­ca­tion – near to the coast for ship­ping wool ex­ports via the River Stour, and near to Lon­don and Colchester for trans­port. Sud­bury is only fif­teen miles from Colchester and has good road and rail links with the rest of the UK, es­pe­cially Lon­don.

Sud­buy is also well known as the birth­place of the painter Thomas Gains­bor­ough. There’s a statue of him in the mar­ket Square, with St Peters Church be­hind him, and you can visit his birth­place, Gains­bor­ough’s House, which is now a mu­seum and art gallery. www.gains­bor­

There are lots of lovely walks in and around Sud­bury, par­tic­u­larly the wa­ter mead­ows, which have been im­mor­talised by the works of Gains­bor­ough and John Con­sta­ble. The mead­ows have been con­tin­u­ously grazed by cat­tle since the mid­dle ages, and are care­fully main­tained today by the Sud­bury Com­mon Lands Char­ity. Dis­sected by the me­an­der­ing River Stour, they are a rich source of wild flow­ers, in­sects, birds and mam­mals. The best way to en­joy the mead­ows is via the 3.5 mile Meadow Walk. www.sud­bury­town­coun­


Re­li­gious per­se­cu­tion of the Huguenots, the French weavers, from 1572 led to their evac­u­a­tion from France to Eng­land. At first they set­tled in the Spi­tal­fields area of East Lon­don, but wages were high and con­di­tions in East Anglia were more favourable due to bet­ter wa­ter sup­plies, ac­cess to ports, cheaper premises and a good sup­ply of skilled, cheap labour within easy dis­tance of Lon­don. So silk pro­duc­tion mi­grated to Sud­bury, Nay­land, Hadleigh and some parts of Es­sex, and by 1714 the trade was es­tab­lished in the re­gion. Ge­orge Cour­tauld lived in Sud­bury and started a silk busi­ness nearby in 1798, and Regi­nald Warner started the Gains­bor­ough Silk Weav­ing Com­pany in 1903, which is still thriv­ing in Sud­bury today, as are Stephen Wal­ters and Van­ners.


The Secret Gar­den café, Fri­ars Street, open for freshly cooked break­fast and pas­tries, light lunches and snacks, and cream tea. The Secret Gar­den Wine Bar & Restau­rant, Buz­zards Hall, Fri­ars Street, lunch and din­ner, events and cook­ing lessons. Huf­fers, King Street, cafe and restau­rant. The An­gel, Fri­ars Street, gas­tro pub and restau­rant serv­ing lo­cally sourced food. www.thean­gel-sud­

Above: Cat­tle at Sud­bury wa­ter mead­ows

Left: St Peter’s Church on Mar­ket Hill in Sud­bury and the statue of Thomas Gains­bor­ough

Below: Gains­bor­ough’s House, birth­place of the painter and now a mu­seum

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