Glen’s and Jim’s Tread and Thread Tour round Sudbury – Sunday 2nd April

Text and pictures by Christina Bail with annotations from Jim Grundy

On a Sunday morning in early April, 34 IOGers joined organisers Glen and Jim on their double act based in Sudbury and its surroundings. It is the third tour of its kind Jim has done with the Ipswich Outdoor Group; we did Colchester in 2019, then more recently the market town of Lavenham.

The first part of the day – the ‘tread’ bit – comprised a stroll of 6.5 miles. Glen led us to the north/northeast of Sudbury, followed by a lunch stop in Belle Vue Park and a stroll through the picturesque cemetery with its majestic cedar.

After lunch, Jim, an experienced tour guide, guided our group for about one mile around key locations in the town.

We admired the bronze statue of painter Thomas Gainsborough followed by the façade of The Lady Elizabeth, a charming 16th-century inn named after Elizabeth de Burgh, Lady of Clare. One of the wealthiest women in England during the 14th century, having outlived three husbands by the age of 28, Sudbury was located on her land and owes a lot to her, as she invested substantially in Market Hill, Sudbury’s main trading centre at the time. We then went down by the River Stour and paid a brief visit to the reception area of the Mill Hotel, in the corner of which was a glass case with an emaciated cat inside. The poor beast had been buried alive to keep evil spirits out of the Mill’s walls as it was the tradition in East Anglia.

Our group then gathered around the statue of the Saxon Bishop of Dulwich, Aelthun. It is located in front of St Gregory’s, one of Sudbury’s three churches, where we listened to Jim’s account of Aelthun who had dropped dead on this very spot; as a result Sudbury got mentioned in a chronicle in 779 for the first time.

Inside St Gregory’s lies the decapitated head of Simon of Sudbury, the Archbishop of Canterbury, born in Sudbury. This attractive market town of Saxon origin has a great deal on offer, as we realised when we visited Gainsborough’s House, 46 Gainsborough St., the birthplace of the famous English painter Thomas Gainsborough (1728-88). Thomas was lucky enough to acquire fame during his life time, unlike many painters whose style was odds with contemporary taste.

We ended this very interesting tour with a drink at the Maldon Grey – big thanks to Jim and Glen for all their efforts to make this event happen.