Sudbury Heritage Centre 2020

Sudbury Heritage Centre Online


Welcome to Sudbury Heritage Centre Online, the website of the Sudbury Museum Trust. Scrolling down we introduce you to our Heritage Centre in the Town Hall with its entrance in Gaol Lane. We hope that the brief description and images will tempt you to visit the Centre if you live locally or are visiting the town.

The second part of our website gives you direct access to a wide range of online content. For example, you can explore the Sudbury Photo Archive, find out more about the USAAF 486th Bomber Squadron during 1944-45 or explore the Virtual Museum.

Visitor Information

COVID-19. Regrettably  we are currently CLOSED

Watch this website for updates and view LATEST NEWS

Free Admission

Opening Hours

Monday to Friday – 09:00 to 17:00
Saturday – 10.00 to 12.30
Sundays – closed
Bank Holidays – closed


The Heritage Centre is accessible for wheelchairs and visitors with limited mobility.

Both the carpark in Girling Street and the carpark between North Street and Croft Road are within a short walk of the entrance. Parking is free but you must take a parking ticket which limits you to a maximum three-hour stay. There is a free long term carpark next to the Kingfisher Leisure Centre off Great Eastern Road.

Sudbury Heritage Centre
Town Hall
Gaol Lane
CO10 1TL

Click the map below to enlarge, or find us on Google Maps


NEWS: Scroll right down to view our first online presentation ‘The Wealth beneath our feet’

NEWS: Scroll down to Recent Research for the story of how ‘Rubens Old Masters’ came to Sudbury

NEWS: Also go to Recent Research for the story of the Lady and the origins of Market Hill

NEWS: COVID-19. Regrettably we are currently CLOSED. Any changes will be posted here.

What to see

​Moments after you step through the door you realise that you are in an unusual space. Moored high on your left is an airship, a two-metre long model of the German Zeppelin that raided Sudbury in WWI. Below is a bomb dropped that night in 1916 and recovered from the river. Curved panels and display cases offer windows on the town’s past from the Iron Age to the 21st Century and you can even meet Simon of Sudbury face to face. He was the Archbishop of Canterbury beheaded in the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381.

Conflict dominates the area to the right of the entrance. The town’s war memorial outside St Gregory’s Church lists the names of the 300 Sudbury men and women who died in the two World Wars but here a series of panels reveals more about their lives and deaths and also the experiences of the 3000 young Americans who were stationed here in WWII.

Star exhibit is a dramatic WWII image of a crippled American Flying Fortress bomber zooming out of a birds’ eye view of Sudbury at that time. Next to it you’ll discover the Local History Booth. This is a virtual storybook of life in the town for you to browse on a large, user-friendly touch screen. Subjects include railways, firefighting and our important silk industry as well the latest featured presentation.

Passing through the doorway you can explore more of Sudbury’s long history. There are three more screens, two with permanent displays of images exploring Edwardian Sudbury and religious life in the town. The third is an interactive screen that gives access to more than 1,000 historic images of the town and its people, some captured in the 1850s when photography was in its infancy.

Discover Sudbury’s Heritage Online

Sudbury Photo Archive

The market town of Sudbury, on the borders of Suffolk and Essex, has a long and fascinating history. Much of the way of life in the town since the invention of photography has been caught on camera. The Sudbury Museum Trust has developed this website to show and provide information on a selection of these photographs.

Virtual Museum

View on-line, interesting objects that we can’t have on general display, such as the partly mummified head of Simon of Sudbury preserved in St Gregory’s Church, the mummified cat preserved in the Mill Hotel to ward off evil spirits or this 17th century wall painting in a private house. Explore them using the drop down menu.

Recent Research

‘Recent Research’ contains previously unpublished articles on topics of local interest, reflecting the research carried out by the many people who take an active interest in Sudbury’s fascinating local history. Some of the articles are based on the popular local history talks which are given each year at the Quay Theatre.

WW1 Roll of Honour

During the First World War 236 men from Sudbury families joined the war effort and lost their lives, not always in action. Some died of disease, others in accidents. Here are just a few of their stories.

WW2 Roll of Honour

In the war years of 1939-1945 Sudbury men fought on land, in the air and ay sea, in all the main theatres of war including the jungles of the Far East and the deserts of North Africa. This tells the stories of some of the 60 who died in this conflict.

Americans in Sudbury

A deserted airfield lies just to the east of Sudbury. For some eighteen months in 1944-45 this was ‘home’ to some 3,000 young American GIs of the 486th Bomber Group. B17 and B24 heavy bombers took off on missions into Occupied Europe. This part of our website tells the story of the 486th and is dedicated to the memory of those who died.

1885 Map of Town Centre

In 2007 the Sudbury Museum Trust acquired a folder of early 1885 Ordnance Survey maps of Sudbury. Each of the 15 maps measures 97 x 65 cm and covers a small area of the town in incredible detail, even showing garden paths and trees. Here you can view each of the maps online.


Local people tell their stories



Watch our first online presentation, The Wealth beneath our Feet


The Heritage Centre has a large interactive screen in the Local History Booth. Here visitors can explore a good number of presentations based on research carried out by local historians. Here you can discover fascinating subjects as Simon of Sudbury and the Peasants’ Revolt ;a profile of Mark Catesby, a local naturalist who explored America in C18th; the coming of the railway and even ‘Death from the Sky’ – story of a zeppelin raid.

There are many more subjects and soon we hope to make the presentations available online.

Heritage Centre Presentations

  As seen on the Big Screen in the Heritage Centre. Take your pick!

Before 1900

Catesby – Naturalist


Sudbury’s Waterloo Man


Simon of Sudbury


The Peasants’ Revolt


Simon of Sudbury – for kids


A Star Spangled Banner


The Boer War


Sudbury Corn Exchange


After 1900

Sudbury Fire Service


Belle Vue House


Zeppelin over Sudbury


Sudbury Silk


Sudbury and the Railway


Sudbury Police Force


WW2 American Airbase


Local Flying Hero


Wealth Beneath our Feet

Stuff for Kids

The Heritage Centre welcomes visits from school parties. These can be pre-arranged if class teachers contact our Education Officer by e-mail. It may be possible for one of our volunteers to take visitor groups around the museum and give more in-depth knowledge about the various displays.

There is also a series of Quiz Sheets to help young people to engage with the different aspects of the history represents. There are hard copies at the Heritage Centre or you can download them them to print out before you arrive.


The Painter, The Princess and The Statue

Celebrating One Hundred Years of Gainsborough on Sudbury’s Market Hill

Edited by Valerie Herbert
80 page, Hardback. Over 130 illustrations


Tourist Information, Sudbury Library

What’s in a Name? (new edition)

Origins of Sudbury Street Names

Written by Anthony Wheeler, Edited by Valerie Herbert

Profusely illustrated, 28 pages, A5



Tourist Information, Sudbury Library

No Glorious Dead

The impact of war on Sudbury, a Suffolk market town

Written by Valerie Herbert & Shirley Smith.

Profusely illustrated, 148 pages.


Tourist Information, Sudbury Library


The enigma in Sudbury’s shadow

The story of this tiny rural hamlet just across the river from Sudbury. Written by David Burnett. A4 format with glossy cover. 33 pages with map and illustrations.

Out of print

Chilton. The First Three Thousand Years

Written by David Burnett,
Edited by Valerie Herbert
152 pages, A4. Profusely illustrated

Special offer – £5.00

Sudbury TIC, Sudbury Library

Friends of The Heritage Centre

Why not join the Friends of Sudbury Heritage Centre? It is Internet based, free and without any commitment on your part although some members choose to become more involved. They host occasional sessions at the Heritage Centre on Saturday mornings, others help with school projects and research. Friends get regular and exclusive email bulletins about our plans, activities and new exhibits as well as other history-based events in Sudbury.

Join the Friends

Useful Information

Contact Us


You might wish to comment on the content of our website, offer further information on an old photograph or perhaps offer a Sudbury related item to our collection. However we cannot offer help with family history research – please refer enquiries to the Sudbury Group of the Suffolk Family History Society.


© Sudbury Museum Trust 2019
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