Lecture reveals startling Sudbury death figure

THE anguish of being a parent in Sudbury in Victorian times has been revealed in a history lecture given at The Quay Theatre.

In the first of a series of talks, historian Dr Jonathan Belsey said records from Sudbury Cemetery revealed that, over a 50-year period, a third of those buried there were children under the age of five.

Dr Belsey, who is a trustee of Sudbury Museum, said the results of analysing the records were a revelation to him.

He said: “I knew child mortality figures were high in the 19th century, but I was shocked by the Sudbury figures.

“Most of the deaths would have been for the same reasons – infectious diseases, contaminated drinking water and the poor health of mothers.”

He told the theatre audience that child deaths in the 50 years after the cemetery opened in 1859 amounted to more than 2,300 under fives.

He said a quarter of these deaths occurred in just three roads – Ballingdon Street, Cross Street and North Street.