A number of outstanding buildings dominate Market Hill one of which is St. Peter's. Created originally as a chapel to serve the trading area, St Peter's was completely reconstructed in the 15th century resulting in a large and lofty church. St Peter's is now redundant, but it is cared for by the Friends of St. Peters, with support from the Churches Conservation Trust, and hosts a wide variety of concerts, markets and craft fairs and an annual
On the north-east corner of Market Hill stands the mid-19th century Town Hall which replaced the
At the foot of the hill on the south-west side stands the Victorian Corn Exchange, symbolic of the marriage of town and country, which gives a special atmosphere to Sudbury. Despite its outstanding architectural qualities, it was once threatened with demolition and was only rescued following a popular campaign after which it was transformed into a public library, which it remains today.
The River Stour played a significant part in the commerce and in the survival of modern day Sudbury. The river was used to transport coal to Sudbury while bricks, grain and other products were sent down river to the estuary and then by sea to London where many fine public buildings were constructed from the white Suffolk bricks crafted in nearby Ballingdon. Sudbury also offered, as it does now, employment in the cloth trade having the great honour to weave cloth and silk for the Royal Family.
Today, proximity to the River Stour makes Sudbury a uniquely beautiful place in which to live and to visit. Few towns have managed to conserve an unspoilt waterline with an expanse of green meadows nearby. Without the administration, planning and supervision of the Trustees of the Sudbury Common Lands Charity and a full-time ranger, with support from Sudbury Town Council and other bodies, these pleasures would be lost to residents and visitors alike.
Perhaps Sudbury's main claim to fame is that it is the birthplace of the famous portrait and landscape artist Thomas Gainsborough, born in Selpulchre Street (renamed Gainsborough Street) in 1727. His birthplace dates back to the fourteenth century and the building has a brick front which was added in the 1720s. In 1958 a charitable trust was formed to buy the building and open it as a memorial to the artist. Today it is a thriving museum and gallery and it is unique as the only birthplace of a great artist open to the public in Britain. More of Gainsborough's work is on display at Gainsborough's House than any other museum in the world. It also displays exhibitions by contemporary artists and houses a recently refurbished workshop where artists can make prints (click on the Local Attractions link for more information on Gainsborough's House and it's opening times).