Gifts received as ancient tradition continues

GIFT CEREMONY: Mayor Robert Spivey hands over some vouchers.
GIFT CEREMONY: Mayor Robert Spivey hands over some vouchers.

More than 50 elderly residents gathered in St Peter’s as a Sudbury tradition dating back nearly four centuries took place.

The Ascension Day Gifts ceremony was held in the former church on Thursday. The event, which is in its 392nd year, follows the wishes of two men who left bequests for the benefit of the elderly of Sudbury.

Martin Cole, a draper, who died in 1622, had directed in his will that shirts and smocks be provided on Holy Thursday. In 1668, former mayor Nathanial King left money for loaves of bread on the same day.

The tradition is continued by Sudbury Municipal Charities which gives vouchers worth £25 to be exchanged for clothing or food at Winch and Blatch or the Co-operative.

These were handed out to 55 residents, all aged over 70, by town mayor Robert Spivey.

“We rely on the good folk to keep applying and this is a ceremony that has been going for quite a while,” said Adrian Walters, from the Municipal Charities.

“It is quite likely lots of other towns had traditions like this, but they have fallen by the way side and it is pleasing we have kept it going.”