Market Hill c. 1920s. The siting of St. Peter’s Church & and the wide open spaces surrounding it was a deliberate & successful piece of fourteenth century town planning. Here clearly seen Old Market Place on the left. Borehamgate above & Market Hill right.
On this page are ancient maps with links to some of the buildings that still can be seen today.
These maps clearly show the old centre of Sudbury before Market Hill became the Town centre as above.
Sudbury showing the Saxon Ditch and Rampart
The Great Ditch and Rampart was an impressive earthwork built by the Saxons to completely encircle the town that had expanded way beyond the old Iron Age defences. It was to mark the confines of the town until the fourteenth century and today’s street pattern within the old town is a direct consequence of it. The date of its construction was unknown and an attempt to determine it was taken in 1992-93 at a section in Mill Lane.
The excavation was carried out under the direction of Stuart Boulter of the Fields Project Division of the Archeological Unit associated with the Suffolk County Planning Department. The opportunity arose following the demolition of the nineteenth-century school buildings prior to the construction of a new school. It was the first time ever that a site had become available for examination on the line of the ditch to determine its size and age and when it was filled in. Unfortunately its age was not determined.
The profile and dimensions of the ditch, at least this section of it, were revealed and were surprising. It was 21 metres wide and 3 metres deep with a flat bottom and sloping sides. It was estimated that the upcast, or soil removed from the ditch, would have formed a rampart on the town side 15 metres wide at the base, 6 metres in height with an angled slope of 40 degrees. This would have created a most effective defensive barrier. It would seem that there was one main entrance through the rampart into the town where present day Gainsborough Street begins, at the foot of Market Hill.
Sudbury around 1200 AD
Information on the properties named in orange can be found here.
Plan of Sudbury from around 1200 showing the expansion of the parish of All Saints beyond the ditch. Modem street names are used. This street plan, the historic core of modern Sudbury, has remained intact ever since with the exception of Mill Lane which has been replaced with a diverted footpath. One can plainly see why Christopher Lane was called Wylewerfelane, every other street or lane either follows the curve of the ditch or is straight, indicating a planned Saxon town, almost certainly by Edward the Elder in around 911-17.