Main Road, decorated for the visit of Princess Alexandra, Princess of Wales, wife of the future King Edward VII

1872


The History of the Sudbury Estate

The manor of Sudbury is listed in Domesday book (1086).

Sudbury became the property of the Vernon family in the early 16th century through the marriage of the heiress, Ellen Montgomery, to Sir John Vernon (d.1545) a younger son of Sir Henry Vernon of Haddon Hall in north Derbyshire.

George Vernon (1636-1702) started building Sudbury Hall shortly after the restoration of King Charles II in 1660. The Hall is a magnificent example of English architecture from one of the finest periods of country house building.

At the same time, George Vernon built a new Estate village adjacent to the Hall, to house his servants, Estate labourers and tradesmen. The heart of the village has changed little since the late 17th century. The Main Road, the former Estate Office and the Vernon Arms coaching inn - which is still a country pub today - are remarkable survivals.

The Vernon family was ennobled in 1762.

Later Vernons made additions to the village; most prominent are the school (1830s) and remodelled village shop (1900). The lake was created in the 18th century from a series of Medieval fish ponds and was extended in the 19th century.

During the Victorian era the 6th Lord Vernon promoted modern agricultural methods, especially in dairy farming, and built several substantial farmhouses on the surrounding Estate. At this time the Sudbury Estate stretched from Cubley in the north to Marchington in Staffordshire.

In 1919 the 9th Lord Vernon sold land - as well some of the contents of Sudbury Hall - to pay debts and taxes, following the death of his elder brother in World War I. However, he consolidated the core Estate in the 1930s and 40s by buying back several farms and building cottages to provide social housing in the village.

Sudbury experienced considerable change in the mid 20th century.

The site of the World War II US Army hospital in Sudbury Park was bought by compulsory purchase in 1948 and converted into a prison: HMP Sudbury. A modern housing estate, intended to house prison officers, was also built by HM Prison Service in Sudbury Park.

In 1967 Sudbury Hall, its principal contents, part of its gardens and a small acreage of parkland were transferred to the National Trust by the 10th Lord Vernon, in part payment of death duties.

In the early 1970s increasing traffic through the village led to the building of a bypass through Sudbury Park; this now forms part of the A50 dual carriageway between Derby and Stoke-on-Trent.

The Sudbury Estate remains in the hands of Vernon descendants to this day.

Scroll down to see historic images of Sudbury village. Click on the images for larger versions and for captions. With acknowledgements to Sheila, Lady Vernon and Mr Sam Jenkinson.