The Sudbury Common Lands Charity came into being in 1897 to administer lands and property formerly held for the benefit of the freemen of the town, comprising 109 acres adjacent to the River Stour and 15.5 acres, known as Harp Close Meadow, on Waldingfield Road.
Under the constitution, the trustees are directed to maintain the property of the charity and to pay over part of the income for the benefit of the freemen, to make payments to the Sudbury Municipal Charities and for general benefit of the inhabitants of the town.
In the first half of the last century, permission was given by the trustees for sports days, carnivals and similar activities to be held on Harp Close Meadow, this continuing until the 1960s.
In 1984, the health authority was looking for a site to build the replacement Sudbury hospital and offered to buy the 15.5 acres.
The trustees proposed selling with a provision that an area (about 4.5 acres) was designated as a public open space.
This proposal was declined and the health authority stated it would accept no conditions placed on the sale as it would be paying full development market price on the whole area.
It appeared the proposals might fall through and fearing this would mean the loss of the promised facility for the benefit of the town the trustees agreed a sale at £850,000.
The money was used to purchase and refurbish the Christopher Centre, providing a base for a number of other local charities to work from, acquired grazing land over the river from Friars Meadow and assisted with grants totalling over £300,000 to many of the town’s clubs, organisations and charities as well as improving the water meadows and access.
It is important that the river pastures continue to be grazed as they have been for past centuries if they are to remain in the pristine condition they are today without the use of artificial chemicals or sprays.
The trustees’ prime aim must be to farm these lands responsibly for the benefit of the town, whilst encouraging the wildlife, flora and fauna, educating new generations in the care of our heritage so that the delightful area that is Sudbury Common Lands may be an asset to the town for another thousand years.
Sudbury Common Lands