Exploring Sudbury

Walking trail

The close-by village of Sudbury was improved and extended by George Vernon, the builder of Sudbury Hall. The village once provided homes for servants, work people and other tenants. It would have been a thriving estate community from the large numbers of staff needed to maintain the hall, its gardens, parkland and farms.

Sudbury village archive image

Map

Sudbury village explorer map

Start:

Sudbury Stable Yard

1

The Gamekeeper's Tally Board on a central door in the Stable-yard. A traditional tally-board using animals'feet (or pads) to record kills. Many of these painted-over bones are believed to belong to otters, hunted because of their attacks on fish stocks in the nearby River Dove.

game keepers tally board of otter bones

2

The Mounting Block A standard stable-yard feature even today use to help when mounting horses. Note the carved stone Vernon fret on the base, a crossed diamond motif.

Sudbury stable yard mounting block

3

The Deercote A beautiful castle-like, fanciful structure originally of the 1700s, was more purposeful than the temples and follies seen in many parks and gardens at this period. It provided shelter for deer in the park and at one point was partially thatched. It's best seen from the first floor of the hall in the Queen's room, sometimes in the winter months you can catch a glimpse of it through the leafless trees on the far side of the A50. Unfortunately you can't visit it as it now sits on privately tenanted farmland on the far side of the dual carriageway.

Sudbury Deercote

4

Look up at the front of the hall and you'll see this striking feature, it shows that George Vernon was familiar with the work of professional country house architects of his day. The crowning golden ball (first gilded in 1687) reflects the sun's rays acting as a beacon for travellers. Inside the dome there is a decorative plaster ceiling and fine spiral staircase leading to the roof. Perhaps ladies and gentlemen came up to view the estate and watch hunting parties or even just to look at the stars.

Sudbury's golden topped Cupola

5

Church Gate Like an entrance to the secret garden, this gate was the Vernon family's own entrance into the churchyard from Sudbury Hall's garden. The Latin inscription over the stone doorway 'OMNE BONUM DEO DONUM' translates as - all good things are a gift from God.

Church gate at Sudbury Hall

6

All Saints' Church The Church was extensively restored by the 6th Lord Vernon's architect, George Devey, in 1873-83. The tower was raised, windows replaced and pews installed. There are fine family monuments in the church, some dating from as early as the 1600s. A church has existed on this site since the Early Middle Ages.

7

South Lodge Sitting on the boundary between the Hall and the village and was designed and built by Thomas Gardner of Uttoxeter in 1787. It is paired by the later North Lodge which you can see on your left as you walk down from the National Trust car park. Amazingly both were occupied by families right up until the 1920s.

South Lodge

8

The Old Estate Office This building was built by George Vernon in the the late 1600s. The management of the Vernon's properties and his numerous building projects took place here . The building has had many jobs through the generations but was once again the manager's office by the early years of this century. Note the Vernon coat of arms above the door with the Latin inscription SEMPER VIRET which means Vernon always flourishes. The estate maintenance yard was located directly behind it, it is now Sudbury Courtyard with shops and a small cafe, it is still owned by the Vernon family.

Vernon coat of arms above the door of the old estate offices

9

Sudbury Courtyard This area was once called the wood yard and later the Estate yard. Here, over some 350 years it would have been a hive of activity with joiners, maintenance workers doing repairs around the estate. The workshops and buildings have changed over the centuries to accommodate developing tools and machinery. Many of the buildings that now house retail units were built in the 19th and early 20th century. One from the 1920s was actually an ambulance garage, provided to serve the village and surrounding area by the 9th Lord Vernon.

sudbury estate logo

10

The Bowling Green Created by the 9th Lord Vernon before WW2, it was one of several measures to provide social and leisure activities for villagers. These included a double tennis court in Sudbury's stable yard and a dedicated sports ground opposite the Hall which is still used by the village today.

11

The Vernon Arms An inn since the medieval times it appears on the earliest known plan of the village dated 1659. Built afresh in the 1670s by George Vernon it was an important feature of his improved estate village and a busy stage-coach travel stop. The building actually straddles a small stream - a great advantage before piped running water. The stream still runs beneath the building today and emerges on the far side of the road next to the bowling green.

12

The Village Shop It may seem small today but it was originally a substantial bakers and general store, delivering bread for mile around.

13

Main Road Sudbury may seem a quiet little village but just think about how busy it would once have been and would be now had the A50 bypass not been added. Imagine the stage coaches coming and going on the Lichfield-Buxton turnpike road.

Sudbury village in 1972

14

The Butchers Shop The butchers used to sit opposite the village shop but was moved in the 1800s. The Customised awning, shutters and doorway have remained unaltered since that time.

15

Sudbury School Compulsory education was introduced in England from 1870. At Sudbury, the Vernon family had been paying a village schoolmaster since the early 1700s. Cottages in School lane were converted into a long low schoolroom for boys in 1831 (now Sudbury preschool). A large purpose built building was built the following year to house a school for girls, it is now the main primary school building. We still work closely with the school and they visit us regularly on school trips but also to help us with projects. Recently they've been giving us a hand with out Exploring Childhoods project in the museum.

An old archive image of Sudbury school students

16

The Gas Works This unusual building was designed by George Devey in 1874 and displays the extraordinary attention to detail seen in Victorian service buildings. Coal was once brought from Poynton, another Vernon Estate just outside Manchester, to create gas which was then piped to the hall and areas of the village. In the 1870s it would have been state of the art technology. Unfortunately the building has fallen into a state a disrepair over the years. However the future looks bright for the building and it will hopefully once again become a place to serve the community thanks to the hard work of the Sudbury Gas Works Restoration Trust.

Sudbury Gas works

17

The Footbridge Seen in the bottom corner of Sudbury lake down near the boat house, is not all it seems to be. It is ornamental, never intended for much use as a bridge, it does however have another purpose. The structure actually conceals a dam to maintain water levels in the lake. Excess water joins a small stream which leads to the river Dove.

The ornamental bridge on the lake

18

The Boat House A typical late-Victorian construction hidden in the bottom corner of Sudbury's garden. It would once have had a jetty leading down to the lake where small boats could be launched beneath a willow tree. It is now used in the warmer weather for children's crafts and workshops as well as a handy picnic space!

sudbury boat house

19

The Lake The perfect end to a stroll around Sudbury with a view of the lake. The lake wasn't always as we see it today, it was originally a series of fish ponds serving the manor house that stood before the hall we see today. The 18th century fashion for natural landscaped settings saw them converted into one singular lake.

A painting of Sudbury c.1690 by John Griffier the Elder

End:

Sudbury Lake

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Exploring Sudbury

How to get here

Address
Sudbury Hall Stable Yard
By road
6 miles east of Uttoxeter at junction of A50 Derby to Stoke and A515 Ashbourne
Parking: free, 500 yards
SatNav: enter DE6 5HT
Exploring Sudbury

Facilities and access

  • cafe
  • shop
  • Village pub
  • Toilets in Sudbury Stable Yard